Sublime Stim’s exploration into autistic culture creates “a safer space for generations to come”
Arts House season two launched on June 30, and starting off the program in August is Sublime Stim, which has been commissioned through the performance space’s The Warehouse Residency program.
As the lead artist and creator of Sublime Stim, Mishka is passionate about helping the wider community understand the “beauty of [autistic] culture” through their work on stimming.
Stimming refers to self-stimulating behaviours, such as repetitive movements and sounds, and is a practice that is used regularly by people navigating the world through their senses.
“I care deeply about de-stigmatising stimming and helping support a culture where people sensory seek freely to regulate in ways that are safe for themselves and others,” Mishka said.
“I became interested in developing a work around stimming, because I think it’s a beautiful part of autistic culture that is very human and is experienced by all people in some way.”
Mishka is the first autistic person in the first round of Arts House’s The Warehouse Residency program, a new Arts House initiative centred around celebrating the creative works of deaf, disabled, neurodiverse and chronically ill artists.
Through sharing dialogue between care professionals, the autistic and wider communities, Mishka wants to create an environment where people feel safe and free from discrimination when using their stimming practices.
“I want people to see me flapping my arms like a bird and feel like it’s poetry, or jumping up and down and wiggling my fingers and see it as part of a cultural dance,” Mishka said.
“I want to create a safer space for generations to come, [and] I hope people take away irreverence for sensory seeking, and a sense of safety with expressing autistic cultural expression.”
Sublime Stim will run as an explorative exercise, allowing for people to delve into their responses to expressions of neurodiversity and stimming.
“The show re-writes questionnaires used for diagnosis as a playful invite for everyone to explore their own responses, and it explores difference as a point of value and beauty,” Mishka said.
“People can expect live performances from [the] autistic and care community. There will be a live band and exhibition of more than 50 brain mapping artworks created in collaboration with the community, sensory films, projections, installations, alternative outsider questionnaires, braille books, sound cones, glowing objects, and sensory sculpture.”
While Mishka hopes attendees leave inspired to self-educate on autistic culture, and with the understanding that autistic people “have a different beautiful and different way of forming connection that enriches the world”, Mishka also wants people to have fun.
“I’m giving an artist talk [as well] which delves deeply into the politics and history around autism, but the show itself is mostly light and invites the viewer to make up their own mind and relationships,” Mishka said.
As for the opportunity to create and present this work, Mishka couldn’t be more grateful to Arts House.
“I feel humbled by the generosity and warmth from the staff at Arts House and their efforts towards inclusivity. I’m regularly brought to tears when asked what this opportunity means to me,” Mishka said.
“I [also] feel deeply proud and simultaneously sad to know I am part of such a small minority, and the first to ever have this opportunity. I grieve for the disabled people that fought and died before having an opportunity like this.”
“I’m glad that I didn’t give up and worked everyday towards this opportunity.”
The Sublime Stim exhibition will open on Saturday, August 5, with an artist talk on Wednesday, August 9, and a performance on Saturday, August 19. •
For more information: artshouse.com.au/events/sublime-stim/