Title

Bawdy Tales

Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Departments/Programs

Film and Media Studies

First Advisor

Veronique Bernard

Second Advisor

Ricardo Miranda

Academic Program Adviser

Andrew Lund

Abstract

Hansu Siirala is a Finnish-Canadian craftsperson currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Twelve years ago at the age of fifty-five, she suffered two strokes, which paralyzed her left side and required her relocation to a long-term residential care facility. Via writings to her family, Hansu shares hilarious, bitingly sharp observations about life in the assisted care facility in Vancouver. Her stories chip away at social stigmas, make us laugh at ourselves, and celebrate life in unexpected ways. “Bawdy Tales” is a project that utilizes her writing as the foundation of a series of pieces hosted via a website, providing honest depictions of how one’s body interfaces with others when it is not in their full control. Hansu has never shied away from being crass, frank, or bawdy. She tells stories about her own farts, her lady parts, and poop. When told first hand, these stories redefine taboos as shared human realities. In this project, Bawdytales.net is used as a “skeletal” element and a framework to share Hansu’s perspective on feelings of isolation, the way she connects to family, her community, and the policies that shape the conditions in which she lives. Though the body is used as a theme for each story, Hansu’s stories defy what it means to be restricted physically. She uses humor, sass, and confidence to find agency and transcend her own physical limitations.

“Bawdy Tales” includes animation, illustration, and video to create a platform for Hansu’s writing. As a result of her stroke, Hansu is partially deaf and blind. The site has been made with accessibility as a foundational principle in order for her, and those like her, to be able to experience it with ease.

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