Event Description

Shy Radicals, Awkwoods & Neurodivergent Revolution

Shy Radicals, Awkwoods & Neurodivergent Revolution

Tue 25 February 2020 18:30-20:00 - Students' Union Cafe

Join us for an artist’s talk with Hamja Ahsan. Hamja talks about his award-winning book Shy Radicals, imagining a utopic homeland called ‘Aspergistan’, in the context of debates around intersectionality, radical mental health and neurodiversity.

How can citizenship, nationalism and the state be reimagined to be more homely to neurodivergent people? Can shy, awkward and neurodiverse people be reimagined as dissenters, subversives and revolutionary leaders? How can art and performance reimagine identity and society to make life less alienating?

Drawing from the worlds of teen movies, constitutions and human rights law, the rhetorics of 1960s Liberation movements and anticolonial struggles, grunge, DIY Zines and indie music and anti-psychiatry, Hamja explores these questions. Recent developments, such as the birth of the neurodivergent Labour movement, and attempts to recontextualise the project as the Aspergistan Referendum in Post-Tito Slovenia, will be further elaborated on.

A film of the book is currently in production with Tom Dream of Black Dog Films of Ridley Scotts Associates to be released later in 2020. 

The book is a syllabus text for several University degrees around the world including Goldsmiths in Media and Communication, Fine Art, Disability Studies, Drama, Graphic Design and English Literature.

The talk will be followed by a book-signing

Daniel Oliver will also talk about his new book Awkwoods: Daniel Oliver’s Dyspraxic Adventures in Participatory Performance. Hamja Ahsan and Shy Radicals features in a chapter in his new book Awkwoords on Neurodiversity, world-building and Revolution. He is a lecturer at Queen Mary University in Drama.  



Hamja Ahsan is an artist, writer, activist and curator based in London. He is the author of the book Shy Radicals: Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert, and recently award the Grand Prize at Ljubljana Biennial 2019 for the work Aspergistan Referendum based on it.  He is founder and co-curator of the DIY Cultures festival of creative activism, zines and independent publishing since 2013. He was shortlisted for the Liberty human rights award for Free Talha Ahsan campaign on extradition and detention without trial under the War on Terror. His recent writing was anthologised in No Colour Bar: Black Art in Action 1960-1990. He has presented art projects at PS1 MOMA New York, Tate Modern, Gwangju Biennale, Guild Gallery New York, Shaanakht festival Pakistan and Shilpa Academy, Bangladesh; forthcoming exhibitions in Glasgow Internaton 2020 and CCA Warsaw Poland. His practice encompasses all media: conceptual writing, building archives, performance, video, sound and making zines. He is currently working on a project on the role of zines in the Hillsborough Justice campaign, Britain’s largest police cover up. He is currently a resident artist at Jan Van Eyck Academy 2020-2021 in Netherlands. He was a visiting artist / guest tutor in Goldsmiths in BA Fine Art for 2020-2021. He instagram / tweets : @shyradicals and @hamjaahsan

Daniel Oliver is dyspraxic and creates awkward participatory performance worlds. He has done so since 2003. This book documents some of those worlds, as well as bringing together critical and creative responses by Aby Watson, Jo Hauge, Luke Ferris, O. Husch, Chloe Spicer, Hamja Ahsan and Nwando Ebizie. These writings focus on discussing, embracing, and celebrating dyspraxic approaches to performance making, socialising, world building, thinking and writing. It is especially for everyone accept of course for those who choose to identify as ‘everyone’ rather that someone else - but it will be great for anyone who, for example, is invested in dyspraxia, neurodiversity, Live Art, Audience Participation, World-Building, and sentences like this one. 


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