Coming to SPILL Festival of Performance, Ipswich, and then on to the Barbican, London as part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change, Imagined Touch is a multi-sensory arts performance project exploring the world of deafblind culture with its own tactile sign language, unique relationship to the senses, space and navigation of the world.

Imagined Touch centres on a collaboration between two deafblind women, Heather Lawson, a performer, and Michelle Stevens, a pianist. The performance encourages the audience to consider how deafblind people use touch to navigate, communicate and connect with others. In a society where touch is not necessarily encouraged, deafblind people grapple with universal questions of isolation, access and human connection.

In this installation, audiences watch a short introductory film and are then provided with goggles and headphones to be guided through to an unseen promenade installation. With light and sound distorted and restricted, it is touch that becomes integral to connection so this immersive event shares the humour, grief, beauty and profound isolation of stories as experienced by deafblind artists.

Director, Jodee Mundy, is fluent in Australian sign language because everyone in her family is deaf except for her. Collaborating with Lawson and Stevens – experts in tactile sign interpreting and social haptic communication – she has shaped Imagined Touch into a piece that alters our perceptions. It reframes disability as an opportunity for untapped human potential. Jodee Mundy, explained ‘Our journey has challenged us to ask “Is touch the most important sense?” The language of touch shows us that race, religion, ability, gender and skin colour is simply irrelevant when all that matters is that the person offers a kind hand. All people, with diverse sensory combinations, can experience this installation in different ways.  We hope Imagined Touch awakens not only your senses, but also  ignites the power that lies in your head, your heart and your hands to connect with others.’

In Ipswich as part of SPILL Festival, Artistic Director, Robert Pacitti said, ‘Imagined Touch is the best work of its kind that I am aware of anywhere in the world. It was quite understandably a huge hit in last year’s Sydney Festival and so I’m incredibly excited that we are able to bring the work to Ipswich then London – the first time it has been presented outside of Australia.’

Imagined Touch, 31 October – 3 November, Dance East, Ipswich. SPILL Festival,
Barbican, Southbank, London, 7 – 11 November,

SPILL Festival of Performance: On Time
Ipswich, Suffolk | Thursday 25 October to Sunday 4 November 2018

SPILL Festival of Performance is an international festival of live art, activism and performance presenting the work of exceptional artists from around the globe. Created in 2007 by artist Robert Pacitti and produced by Pacitti Company, SPILL is now recognised as one of the world’s premier artist-led festivals of live work.

The Art of Change

The Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. The season sees the Barbican present bold artistic responses to vital global issues including feminism, climate change and human rights, while providing a platform for voices currently underrepresented in the arts. The season includes world-class music, theatre, dance, film, visual arts and learning and runs throughout 2018.

Imagined Touch

Imagined Touch premiered at Arts House, Melbourne 7th-11th September 2016 and then presented at CarriageWorks, part of the Sydney Festival.   Recipient of the Green Room Award for Innovation in Experiential Theatre 2016.

About the Barbican

A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.1 million people attend events annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, the Pit, Cinemas 1, 2 and 3, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery the Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, Associate Producer Serious, and Artistic Partner Create. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue, Cheek by Jowl, Deborah Warner, Drum

Works and Michael Clark Company. The Los Angeles Philharmonic are the Barbican’s International Orchestral Partner, the Australian Chamber Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble.

Creative Team

Performers and Collaborators – Heather Lawson, Michelle Stevens
Installation Concept, Director and Audio Description – Jodee Mundy
Set Design, Lighting and Visual Design – Jen Hector
Composition and Sound Design – Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey
Director of Photography – Tom Chapman
Technical Manager – Taran Ablitt
Producer – Erin Milne, Bureau of Works

Imagined Touch – Project Partners and Supporters 

Able Australia, Arts Access Victoria, Australia Council, Besen Foundation, Pratt Foundation, City of Melbourne, Auspicious Arts

Jodee Mundy 

Jodee Mundy Collaborations is an independent creative producing company formed in 2012, in response to the multiple collaborations and partnerships established and continuing to develop with artists, diverse communities, organisations and funders.  Artistic Director Jodee Mundy is committed to producing high-quality theatre works, public events, installations and artistic interventions, bringing together diverse cross-sections of the community who may not regularly encounter one another.  Recipient of the Green Room Award for Innovation in Experiential Theatre 2018, her artistic aim is for audiences to witness works that challenge and inspire them to acknowledge: the value of live performance and communities and the ability of the art to redefine and skew the notions of inclusiveness.  Her work ultimately points to a future ‘beyond inclusion’, where diversity is inherently valuable to the art. Rather than a point of difference, it is considered a point of commonality.