["STAY MAD" finger painted on the wall with hundreds of finger strokes encircling it. This invitation hangs above dark blue/black wings and hand prints, swirls, clouds, squiggles in six different shades of deep dark blue. The words "BE" and "NO" are printed repeatedly]
Sparked by dales’ poem “deep dark blue,” an invitation to wade into our darkest waters, we also created a collective wall mural in our Mad Home, painting a collaborative story that our living room wall could tell. Each collaborator chose a paint color to reflect their own ‘deep dark blue.’ We labeled each of our paint tins with instructions, such as “please use with Lindsay’s consent” or “for use by [a specific set of people]”, and included an additional color of deep dark blue that could be used by anyone. We used fingers and brushes and our bodies to craft an evolving, swirling, textured and winged invitation to “Stay Mad”. This work is reflected in a time-lapse video hosted below.
Ahmed (2017) insists that: we have to keep trying. We want the walls to come down. Or, if they stay up, we want the walls to talk, to tell our story. A story too can shatter: a thousand tiny little pieces, strewn all over the place… in making an ordinary out of the shattered pieces of a dwelling, we dwell. We dwell, we tell. How telling. (p. 222) I experience Mad Home as both a story that can shatter, written all over our walls, as well as a site of complex collective self-care. Throughout our collaboration, many of us spoke of caring for ourselves in pieces, or caring for others when we can’t care for ourselves. Ahmed (2017) draws on Audre Lorde’s articulation that “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” (1988, p. 131). Ahmed (2017) writes that: in queer, feminist, and antiracist work, self-care is about the creation of community, fragile communities… assembled out of the experiences of being shattered. We reassemble ourselves through the ordinary, everyday and often painstaking work of looking after ourselves; looking after each other. We need a handle when we lose it. A killjoy survival kit is about finding a handle at the very moment one seems to lose it, when things seem to fly out of hand; a way of holding on when the possibility you were reaching for seems to be slipping away. Feminist killjoys: even when things fly out of hand, even when we fly out of hand, we need a handle on things. (p. 240) For Ahmed, these ‘handles,’ which compose her feminist survival toolkit, include books, things, tools, time, life, permission notes, other killjoys, humour, feelings, and bodies. She writes: “wiggling is in my survival kit. Dancing, too” (p. 247). What moves me is how each of these above ‘handles’ were featured, in an intensely literal sense, so prominently throughout the home we made together. Mad Home, in all of its iterations, is an enactment of a queer Mad survival kit “assembled out of the experiences of being shattered” and the stories we want our walls to tell (p. 240).
[Wooden floor covered in plastic taped down with blue painters tape. Four closed paint cans, each with instructions written on them, such as "don't use" or "please ask before using", paper towels, small paper bowls, and a box of gloves and paint stir sticks. A wooden hutch with two printers, some drawers, and random stuff shoved into open shelves a blue sign covered in waves, that reads:]
Take a bowl and ask us for some of our deep dark blue or use some of the Mad home paint
[a white bathtub with the imprint of Alexis' shoulders, back, buttocks, and feet on the bottom in shades of our deep dark blue. Her arms are printed on the sides of the tub, and on a grab bar]