Josh x Nadia
How do you express the complexities, while challenging the stereotypes of living with OCD?
Through movement, light and sound, mental health advocate, Josh Di Nucci, and artist, Nadia Milford, capture the depth and intricacies of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This creative dance piece explores the duality of ritualism; from initial comfort to anxious entrapment, while instilling hope for those living with obsessions and compulsions.
Josh Di Nucci (he/him)
During my early teenage years, I started noticing that something wasn’t quite right. I had this urge to retrace steps and repeat simple tasks until I felt I had done them in a perfect way. Over a number of years my thoughts became more complicated, and my behaviours became more and more ritualistic. This began to take up a significant portion of my day and caused large amounts of distress, to the point where I was so heavily silenced and gripped by my experiences.
In 2016, I was officially diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I worked closely with a network of people, who empowered me to become the ‘master of my own illness’. Despite my continual efforts to challenge rigid, unfunctional thoughts and behaviours, I still live a life impacted by OCD. I see my recovery as management. This creative expression really speaks the intricacies of my day-to-day living.
Nadia Milford (she/her)
VisAble knott expresses an interpretation of Josh’s lived experience of OCD, in particular the emotional journey of a compulsion. The use of wool was inspired by Josh’s cathartic love of knitting, conveying both the comfort and entrapment of a compulsive ritual. Initially there is a sense of calm, careful measurement and sterile perfection.
Each object introduced is symbolic of ‘triggers’ or ‘barriers’ which become entangled in the web of anxiety that can feel strangling for those caught inside it. Leaving the tangled wool represents overcoming the compulsion.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
OCD can make living a functional life difficult, but it is not impossible, and doesn’t define a person.
OCD is so nuanced and different for everyone. It was important that the common stereotype of OCD in society wasn’t further reinforced in this expression, by just showing someone washing, cleaning, or organising things. There is so much more depth to the illness, which may not always be seen.
By visually depicting the deeper meaning, I wanted those who may have an experience of OCD or mental ill health to know they are not alone in their intricate, embarrassing thoughts and behaviours. You can live a life of meaning and purpose while managing this mental illness.
My main objective was to bring Josh’s voice and message to life, so I felt it was important that some movement came from him. I gave Josh creative tasks via email and he sent me back videos, images and writings. From these ideas I formed choreography and a storyboard for the piece. Alec (director) and Joseph (sound artist) came on board to help bring to life an elaborate set design and incredible visuals. We worked closely and meticulously with Josh’s message at the heart. It’s the love and passion thrown into the project from each of the members involved that made this piece what it is.
Nadia’s genuine care and interest in my journey really demonstrated to me that I could trust her with my vulnerable experiences. To then hear snippets of her thoughts and ideas around portraying OCD and mental illness was truly inspiring. It was really hard at first to get my head around the idea of letting someone else creatively express my lived experience, but it turned out to be a really positive experience.
Josh Di Nucci (he/him)
Josh is passionate about making a change in the lives of those subject to stigma. He draws on candid experiences from his sporting career and personal life aiming to help empower, motivate, and inspire others. In his role as an Australian Youth Advocate for Mental Health, Josh wishes to plant seeds of change within society about the impact that mental illnesses can have on someone’s wellbeing. He loves engaging in positive conversations around mental health with the hope that it may save someone’s life.
Nadia Milford (she/her)
Nadia is a 24-year-old dance artist currently based in Brisbane. As a performer and choreographer, she uses the intrinsic language of the body to encourage awareness and empowerment. Nadia had worked with dancers, actors, poets, visual artists, technology artists, filmmakers, and circus performers to develop a diverse body of works. She is passionate about connecting with people through physical dialogue to cultivate compassion.