Alison Paradoxx’s 'Floral Peroxide' is a multimedia poetry performance, which draws on her own experience living with a disability, and builds on previous work that won her the 2016 South Australian Poetry Slam.
The artist depicts through poetry how being ill from a young age has affected her throughout her life, with a reading style that is fierce, fervent and captivating.
Her art is real, visceral and powerful, conjuring images of degeneration and pain in all its beauty and ugliness. She creates perfection through imperfection, and beauty out of the flawed nature of life. Her work aims to shed light on some of the paradoxes of life and illness, which those with a disability know too well, beauty and pain, the natural and the unnatural, the clinical and the personal. Her poems remind us that death walks hand in hand with life.
Alison challenges assumptions that illness is something to be covered up, fixed, pitied or feared. She brings awareness to the social conventions that can traumatise people with disabilities, such as the need to cover up pain, to pretend you are fine, and the fear that causes people to dehumanise those with a disability, in case they see in them their own pain and fragility.
She explores the clinical violation that comes with being ill, experiencing multiple surgeries, and having one’s pain analysed and examined repeatedly. She brings into her work lived experience and metaphors to describe the sanitisation of both the body and the experience of people with disabilities.
She chronicles her relationship with pain and illness, after being a survivor of severe burns as a child, experiencing degenerative disease and coping the only way she knew how. She talks about disassociation, trauma, the silence of suffering as a child, her pain unheard, and healing through art.
Alison manages to describe eloquently, beautifully, and with feeling, many common experiences that people with disabilities or chronic illnesses go through, despite the varied nature of illness. It is exceptional performance poetry that utilises costume, visual art, interpretive movement, and atmospheric music that feels eerie, surreal and slightly disturbing.
Despite the difficult themes, her poetry is affirming and empowering. She is a much-needed voice in society, and I think everyone needs to see (or read) her work, which gives a truly authentic and rare perspective on what is an important and emerging issue.
Alison Paradoxx plays Courtyard at The Libertine by Louis again on 17 March.