Disorienting the Past, Cripping the Future in Adam Elliot’s Claymation
Acclaimed Australian animator Adam Elliot dedicated his career to illustrating the experiences of people with disabilities. Elliot’s first trilogy – Uncle (1996), Cousin (1999) and Brother (2000) – is a black and white claymation accompanied by narration reminiscing beloved family members with disabilities. The article intersects disability studies, phenomenology and film studies in an analysis of the disabled body in Elliot’s claymations and the crip ethics they may evoke in spectators. The author argues that Elliot’s clayographies disorient the past by yearning for it and crip the future by criticizing the marginalization of people with disabilities, and focusing on the desire for life ‘out-of-line’. The hybridity of the trilogy is an infusion of documentary ‘domestic ethnography’ or home videos, centering familial ‘others’ with fictional film-noir that allows entrance into the dark realm of recollection. The viewers are offered bodily experiences that emphasize the body’s vulnerability and perishability, presented not in a tragic or inspirational fashion, but as inseparable from human existence. By conjuring these oppositional cinematic styles and genres in clay, disability is represented as the definition of the human experience through an ethical remembrance.