BLOOD AND SNOW MANIFESTO. Concept, visuals, text: Louise Westerhout. Editing: Louise Bruwer. A short film premiering at the National Arts Festival 2020.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
Blood and Snow Manifesto is Louise Westerhout’s intimate account of her journey through Stage 4 Lymphoma and disability. At least, that’s what she says it is. I was privileged to preview this strange and wonderful piece of work and it is so much more than that, I know I will struggle here to find the words to describe it. In fact, I am going to leave the description to a minimum and rather speak more of how I was moved by it.
Louise is narrator, poet, prophet and performer here, and even though the notion of survivor is examined and underscores the work, it is never foremost, full frontal. That is what I was reticent about, to be honest. A manifesto that speaks about surviving cancer, and disability, throws any potential audience member into the seat of discomfort by just anticipating how this may assault us. There is no assault. It is the opposite in fact; a gentle luring into the idea with perfectly framed domesticity, Louise’s clear and lyrical voice, artistry and movement, and something miraculous about the witnessing of it.
Disabled become abled
There is no linear narrative here, but one of exposition, learning, admission, shifting, and exploration. More surprising is the sense of wonder and acceptance of a ‘cyborg, hybrid self’ and how disabled becomes abled in the healing, with the notion that ‘the body is constantly working to a blueprint of perfection’.
And just when it all becomes metaphysical, and the cynic would say, ‘out there’, Louise is also cheeky, bold, hilarious and irreverent.
A timeline of tears, blood, anguish and despair gives way to clarity, and then, love. Big love. Life love. Transcendent love. Cyborg love. Who emerges to talk to us and show us, in multifaceted glory is pure Louise. Witch. Wonder woman. Writer. Dancer. Flame thrower. She says this of love: ‘It animates the earthly monster to become the spirit walker.’ My favourite line.
What: Blood and Snow Manifesto
Where: Virtual National Arts Festival 2020 until 5 July
How: Click here