17, Instituto De Estudios Criticos – Mexico City
In June 2018 I was fortunate to present at a 3 day conference run by 17edu.org . This was part of a longer colloquium for those studying at the ctiritcal studies institute.
Curating Disability : Developing the Climate for Change
Disabled people, or people with impairments, are under valued and under-represented in society and more so in the art world. We are often viewed as being broken, or needing fixed, with little to contribute. We have no, or very little, personal, professional, economic, cultural or social value or worth. I don’t need or want fixed. My disability is a part of me – it informs who i am but not all of what or who i am in the same way as having glasses does – I am a sum of my experiences.
The predominant view held by a ‘normative’ or ‘typical’ mainstream it is little wonder we as disabled people have little representation in places associated with worth. At the end of last year I wrote an article ‘Where are the disabled curators?’ http://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/where-are-the-disabled-curators/ outlining some of my views about their absence.
Taking this text as a foundation I will develop the discourse around the invisibility of the disabled artist to the mainstream art world and explore some of the ‘barriers to visibility’. The art world is a particular ecology, understanding the relevant food chains is fundamental to being able to adapt and change to exploit the limited resources and opportunities which are available. Along with this is the hierarchy of power and agency. Disabled people generally have less power than most because of the way society is set up, it is more difficult to exert our own agency, to make out own choices about the things which affect us rather than having them made for us.
How do we become visible?
What do we need to get into the gallery?
Where does accessibility and inclusion start and finish?
What do we need to be able to make work?
Can we be accessible for all and include everyone? Do we want to?
Sometimes to get what we want we need to play the game by someone else’s rules, but once in the game we can change the rules and even make our own. So how do we do that? Do we try and follow the well trodden path which already exists or do we create our own path? How do we address the issues of quality, of what is good enough and who decides. Where are the critical dialogues occurring and how do we embed them into practice?
Within the format of a ‘curated conversation’ we will discuss, explore, and interrogate these and other issues, hopefully with passion and good humour, related to Curating and Disability.
This was followed by a workshop and discussion around making galleries accessible and also getting artists into galleries at http://www.artealameda.bellasartes.gob.mx
This was within the context of a digital/ new media space. Although the basic premises are the same around access, inclusion, audiences and artists.
An in with a Stranger – Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre
We love to talk about the weather. It is a social in with strangers, or it was a social in with a stranger until the dynamics of social interactions changed with the increasingly prevalent life mediated through the screen. This has significantly changed the way people interact in anonymous public situations. people don’t just strike up conversations with strangers in the way they once did, particularly in dense urban environments – where often the screen is used to avoid contact, to separate ourselves from the social toxicity of the environment, precisely to avoid that opportunity of a random conversation with a stranger.
The thinking behind the exhibition is to get people talking again, and once the exhibition is over to leave a legacy of a ‘space’ where that conversation can continue.
Curating the Weather
There are probably as many approaches to curating exhibitions about the weather as variances in weather itself. To push the metaphor though, there are certain climates to curate within. Often when exhibitions are created on the theme of the weather they show landscapes by the masters or seascapes, moody black and white photographs of clouds over the moors, maybe a weather instrument – all traditional fayre. All very literal interpretations or representations of weather. This is an approach I find too literal, too reductive.
What interests me is weather as metaphor. How the internal state, the human condition, can be represented by language associated with weather. How can this further be represented through metaphor using art as a medium. In my approach to curating ‘Weather as <Metaphor>’ I am attempting to engage the same practices, approach and milieu that I employ with my practice as an artist. A multi-disciplinary, cross fertilisation approach. The weather does not exist in isolation and nor we do we, no matter how much the professional enclaves wish to be discrete and exclusive. It is of us and we are of it. It would be incomprehensible for me to think about developing an exhibition about weather as metaphor without designing it with philosophers, psychologists, meteorologists, cultural critics etc all included from the start.
Before my studios were closing down I started a series of exhibitions “For one night only” which as its name suggest was an exhibition open for one night only. This was very much a D.I.Y – on the fly – kind of thing – no white walls, no white cube, no fancy hanging systems – it had a very much “work in progress” or “project space” aesthetic but with a definite Curatorial Context and Cohesion. Small but perfectly formed. The first exhibition I showed was Cath Walshaw – Collectainea – a look back at her diverse studio work.
Layer – The Tetley
Layer – An abstract place usually conceived as having depth.
A showcase of work in a range of media including drawing, ceramics, sculpture and painting selected from artists associated with Inkwell Arts, exploring links in concept or media. The exhibition is co-curated by Aidan Moesby, artist in residence at The Tetley during 2014, and is part of the Love Arts Leeds Festival.
The work exhibited in Layer has been created by studio artists, self-directed artists and students all based at Inkwell Arts.
The artists delve into a vast range of concepts and notions through the production of their art. Some share the desire to understand and question their world and reality by looking at such subjects as the cellular particles that exist within all living forms, and the interconnecting mechanisms of nature from birth through to death. Others create work that is a personal exploration of identity and loss, personal family history, or consciousness and disassociation.