When Deaf people are mentioned, the default position in the cultural sector is to think about access and inclusion. But what if Deaf lives were the heritage?
For over 500 years, the Scottish Deaf community has lived creatively expressive, visual lives - virtually unnoticed amongst the hearing. Those 500 years have bequeathed to the nation a rich heritage that is both tangible and intangible. This rich heritage has now been recognised in the BSL (Scotland) Act. The Act gives us a mandate to act, to recognise and promote BSL heritage in Scotland, but it also represents a challenge. In the midst of current debates about minority heritage, and about the interface between tangible and intangible heritage, how do we understand, describe, interpret and celebrate a heritage that we have typically ignored? How do Scotland's cultural institutions represent the buildings, language, culture and bodies of the Deaf community? What does Deaf heritage 'do' to our understanding of Deaf culture, or to the BSL (Scotland) Act’s mandate to recognise and preserve it?
During the first of our four collaborative workshops we explored the future of Deaf Heritage in Scotland in relation to the National Plan and its relation to the cultural organisations that typically shape
Video Interviews, Deaf Connections - Glasgow April 2018
PROGRAMM & PRESENTERS
Exhibition in Display
Deaf Humans of Scotland
Will Clark - photograph from Scott.Campbell
Will Clark is a Scottish photographer based in Glasgow, he is also an active member of the Deaf Community! Some of you might already be familiar with his recent work, his project, “Deaf Humans of Scotland”: it aims to represent and portray the Deaf Community. Explaining the project, he says, “I want to show to the public that Deaf people are human beings with stories just like everyone else”.
The project is mostly inspired by “Humans of NY”, a documentary portrait of Strangers in NY, this documentary project capture photos of people with their stories and show them to the world on Facebook.
Looking at this project, Will was wondering if there was such a thing for Deaf people…and as I could not find anything, then he decided to take up the challenge and started this two years project!
You can find “Deaf Humans of Scotland” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and all the stories are made available both in BSL and text, according to the person's preference.
I really believe this project speaks out for itself; its strength is in the representative power. If the Deaf community and Deaf culture in the general opinion still suffer for the stigma of being “invisible in the society”, then Will challenge is in portraying it, representing the Scottish Deaf Community, with the stories, memories, or the struggling of everyday life… and making it visible through social media.
Inviting people to participate in the project Will says “The stories could be anything you want”, and he points out “Every one has a story to tell!”
Faceme - Deaf Heritage Trail
Promoting Deaf Heritage, restoring Urban Existing Heritage and giving a new critical destination.
Deaf culture does not exist in a vacuum, it exists in a culture as a whole, and there is a long history of Deaf Heritage in Edinburgh (The world’s first school for the Deaf, the world’s first effigy of a known deaf person and the world’s first Deaf Church and Society… and so on)
In 2017 Marta Discepoli produced a Public Engagement project in the centre of Edinburgh, re-using the now obsolete red phone boxes as Interpretation beacons for my project “FACEME” Deaf Heritage Trail to raise awareness of Deaf Heritage (and its exclusion) in Edinburgh. The project explores the complexities of inclusionin the cultural sector specifically looking at Deaf histories and their marginalised status.
The exhibition displayed a documentation of a series of intervention in the Edinburgh City centre that aimed to raise deaf awareness by making Deaf culture more accessible. This was done by revealing the embedded language and history in the city with design opportunities of discovery that ignite curiosity.
Each part of the trail was installed in phone boxes and followed a specific design in accordance with the place where every phone box sits, using neglected urban heritage, a red phone box, to make a connection and to talk about Heritage.
“Using creative practice as a methodology I have pursed practices of making to engage Deaf and hearing communities in an active and collaborative relationship”