Horizontal is an ongoing piece of artistic research lead by artist Suriya Aisha. Horizontal investigates the relationship between invisible disabilities, capitalism and all the awkward bits in between. The project was inspired by Suriya's own experience of living with rare brain condition Chiari Malformation Type 1. THE HORIZONTALS are a group of women and non-binary people who live with invisible health conditions and seek to raise awareness through open conversations, artistic experiments and most importantly sharing pots of hummus.
Jenica Leah is a self-published children’s author of ‘My Friend Jen’ and a passionate advocate for sickle cell with a positive outlook on life. Living with sickle cell anaemia herself, she has battled with the many complications that come with the disorder; but she has never let this stop her from being who she is. From being a full-time model at the age of 14, to organising and managing catwalks with an international events specialist by the age of 20, Jenica refuses to let her condition hold her back. After undergoing total hip replacement surgery in 2014, which changed her whole outlook on life and her perception of her illness, Jenica vowed to help others living with the sickle cell condition by being more open about her health and her journey and by doing more to create awareness and get people talking about sickle cell. She shares her experiences of living with sickle cell anaemia on her blog Me Myself & Sickle Cell and YouTube channel 'United Sicklers'.
Mimey is a primary school teacher and angry intersectional snowflake. Through Horizontal they are interested in investigating the difference between normal human life pain and living in the horizontal zone. They're growing passionate to question the power of making invisible disabilities visible, particularly in the context of teaching and the positive impact that can have on children.
Hannah Rebecca-Joy Eldritch is a postgraduate student in Disability Studies and Global Development. Disability is an issue she is particularly passionate about due to her personal experience and it has led her to build disability based social enterprises, most notably Considering Disability. This is what keeps her busy and helps her to make a huge difference.
Naadirah Qazi has suffered with Endometriosis since she was 13, but it was undiagnosed for 8 years. Despite this, Naadirah continued to hone her skills and creativity. She was an actor and model as a child and aged 16, after long term hospitalisation and major surgery, Naadirah began writing songs. In a year, she had written and performed a leading soundtrack for a feature film. She extended her passion for music by founding and directing Sofar Sounds Birmingham in 2012. Sofar Sounds recently collaborated with Amnesty International to host the largest music movement to have come together in one single day in support of charity - for the global refugee crisis. Naadirah also performs in duet Qazi & Qazi who played their first shows in London and L.A. in 2017. She reads Liberal Arts at King's College London and is currently producing and co-writing upcoming Musical 'Hoops of Fire’.
Pippa Frith is an award winning independent arts producer based in Birmingham. She works with different artists and organisations to create and/or present new and exciting work to audiences regionally, nationally and internationally. As well as being Producer for Horizontal, her current portfolio includes projects with independent artists Francesca Millican-Slater, Stephanie Ridings and Caroline Jester. She primarily works in theatre, but regularly produces projects which push the boundaries of art form and practice. She is the Producer for the internationally renowned Fierce Festival, and is a regular visiting lecturer at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University.
Suriya Aisha has been a practicing artist for four years. Her work originates in poetry, but she has worked across wider disciplines including theatre, live art and spoken word. In 2016 Suriya was commissioned to write a new play for Live Lunch – an initiative led by the Royal Court. Nine Nights enjoyed sell-out readings at The Royal Court and Birmingham REP. In 2015 Suriya was selected for Talawa’s Studio First which lead to her project Dark Room to be commissioned for Talawa First, allowing her to develop this live art project to full fruition. She was also selected to be part of Birmingham REP’s Artist Development - her latest piece ‘Horizontal’ explores the relationship between invisible disabilities and capitalism. Suriya has worked as a workshop facilitator primarily with young people in a wide range of context and she is passionate about equal opportunities and representation, having launched a peer and social support network - UNMUTED for young people of colour who identify as LGBTQI.
“Are you afraid?
The truth is /
I feel safest horizontal
Head propped up
Legs out stretched
Wrapped in the familiar
That is not strong
That is not commended
That is not valued
That is not paid for
If I could work from this position, I would be better
than I am
Fighting off the dizzy behind my eyes
left to stop the shaking
Hiding in cubicles
To let my Black smiling woman face
Relax into deep tired cheeks
Untouched by sleep
To give in
To give in is failure
To give in is safety
Are you afraid?
I’ve silenced my sick voice.