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 critical 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.