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Down Syndrome Radical Beauties in the Truth to Power Cafe

Image credit: Jeremy Goldstein, photographed by Kate Holmes.

‘Truth to Power Cafe’ is a new international performance event wowing audiences in UK, Netherlands, Australia, and Croatia. Their only London dates are on 30th and 31st October at the Roundhouse where 20 London participants will rise up in the name of free speech and political activism, and respond to the question ‘who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’ before a live audience. 

Jeremy Goldstein, creator and host says "the show is a call to self-expression, to say what you’ve always wanted to say and be the person you’ve always wanted to be in front of a live audience. The show challenges the notion of who can take to the stage and have a voice in the process.”

Roundhouse participants include Ruth Barnett, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor; Julie Bindel, writer, feminist campaigner and co-founder of Justice for Women, Chairman Kato, Judith Knight of Artsadmin, UK activist of the year Dan Glass and writers and artists including Leon Fleming, Stephen Laughton, Vijay Patel, Xavier de Sousa, Laura Godfrey Isaacs and many more! 

Also taking part are two Down syndrome participants Otto Baxter and Ruby Bond who are both part of Daniel Vais’ Culture Devise Dance Project and Radical Beauty Project.

Jeremy spoke to Otto and Daniel about their work.

Otto Baxter: I’m an artist and I’m very independent.  Daniel’s work is fresh and daring. He has exposed me to the avant-garde in an international context.

Daniel Vais: We work in fashion, art, dance, and photography showcasing the intense beauty of people with Down syndrome. Otto is a true artist. His mind is fluid, ever-flowing, curious, and he loves to improvise. 

Otto: We want to show the world how desirable and fashionable we are.

Daniel: Sarah Gordy, a Radical Beauty model and renowned actress said “maybe one day there will be fewer people like me with Down’s syndrome.  Radical Beauty images should be part of our cultural history saved for future generations.”

Image credit: Culture Device (Daniel Vais and Otto Baxter)

Jeremy Goldstein: Why fewer people?

Daniel: Eugenics. There are prenatal tests to determine the status un-born babies, and abortion rates are at an all time high.  Whether you are Down syndrome or not, we are all human, and sometimes we all suffer from low self-esteem and feel too ugly for this world.

Otto: I’m no different. I’m happy and I’m lucky to have Down syndrome. Because of it I feel extra beauty and love for myself. I’m proud of who I am. It’s the best.

Jeremy: How do you deal with people’s prejudice?

Daniel: I have worked with people with Down syndrome for a long time. I see how people treat them like zombies, trying to take their power away. They think they have no mind, no spirit and no choice, but it’s not true. 

Otto: Even though people might see me as an oddity, I’m an individual and I’ve learnt to stand up for myself. I’m happy and that’s what counts. I don’t care what people think.

Daniel: Without love, we have hate, loathing, and abuse. Love will always win eventually. People with Down syndrome have big hearts. They don’t judge, and their minds are sharp and intelligent. We need to hear their voices more than ever.

Otto: If I am fulfilling myself as an artist, I will always win.

Image credit: Culture Device (Ruby Bond)

Jeremy: Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?

Daniel: I’m a punk. I couldn’t care less!

Otto: A lot of people have tried to abuse me, but I do what I want and I follow my dreams. This year I won the Alternative Miss Wilderness Festival, and I’ve just played Duckie. Either you like me for who I am or you can piss off!

Otto and Daniel: We’re not scared. We’re going to stand up and tell the truth in the ‘Truth to Power Café’.

Truth to Power Cafe autumn tour:
15 October - The Arts Centre, Ormskirk
30-31 October - Roundhouse, London
10 November - V&A Dundee with National Theatre of Scotland for Citizen of Nowhere

Art, Truth and Politics
Wednesday 31 October, 19:30
Roundhouse, London
Post-show discussion and audience Q&A with Jeremy Goldstein and Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship - the voice of free expression. Free with ticket to the show.

The Crowning of Reece Lyons from Jeremy Goldstein for LAP on Vimeo.

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