Louise Westerhout


unclear is a live multimedia performance written and performed by queer disabled artist and activist Louise Westerhout. It is also a massive photographic archive by Lauren Brits, and a zine. Throughout her experience of living with a stage 4 lymphoma diagnosis since March 2022, Louise has performed unclear, in different iterations at Body Politic, Artsability Festival, Youngblood Gallery and SCAR Hair Salon and Infecting the City 2023.

Through a seemingly unrelated set of stories I (Louise) recount my journey with stage 4 lymphoma from my diagnosis in February 2022. unclear exposes the uncomfortable, shifting realities of our mortal existence and our erroneous need for meaning. As a multimedia performance, unclear breaks the narrative tropes around cancer and disability. It is live art, storytelling, exhibition, meditation and lecture performance, at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking. 

unclear subverts ableist narratives, suggesting new paradigms of viewing and understanding a queer, disabled, older body and its relationship to patriarchy, ableism etc.  unclear pulls tight focus on singular stories from my lived experience with doctors, family, therapists, patients, analysing them through the lens of critical theory to expose the cognitive dissonance we have around cancer, body autonomy and our own mortality.  unclear offers nuanced diagnoses, on interpersonal, but also the socio-cultural pathologies which perpetuate illness, such as ableism, misogyny, ageism and queer phobia.


Praise for unclear as queer activist art: https://ceconline.co.za/louise-westerhout-and-lauren-brits-work-unclear-is-an-articulation-of-queerness-activism-and-intimacy/ 

Article by Chan Croeser about the transgressive queerness of unclear: “It’s not easy being green: Expanding queer kultuur met Unclear”. Being published in July at: https://klyntji.com/joernaal/2023/7/4/louise-westerhout-lauren-brits-unclear

Link to Infecting the City 2023 performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZYxl0ja5wQ

Link to Artsability performance 2022: https://youtu.be/QUo39kPobcM

Link to a portion of SCAR performance May 2023: https://youtu.be/5L-3Q5YpCr4

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