Curated by Yates Norton & David Ruebain
This exhibition is, in some ways, a manifesto. Not in the sense of a loud, avant-garde, solution-focused statement, but in the sense of making apparent a series of propositions about how we might not just be together but also thrive together. At the heart of thinking through this is disability, alongside other identities and lived experiences.
The exhibition has emerged from the thoughts and feelings of our personal relationship which, like many, entails the coming together of similarities and differences. Through this lens, we explore the profound importance of grappling with finding ways of relating to one another responsibly, lovingly. Together with artists and thinkers, poets, activists and lawyers, we have been considering how such a commitment to ever more caring, expansive and intricate ways of relating can form the basis of nourishing relationships and, at the risk of hyperbole, ultimately of a more sustainable world.
This exhibition’s focus is on disability and ableism. In that regard, we take as our foundation the Social Model of disability, which is the basis of disability liberation movements around the world. In summary, this contends that, beyond our impairments (our medical and quasi-medical conditions), we are disabled by our environments and relationships that exclude or marginalise. However, when constructed in ways which give effect to our inherent desire and need for connection, just such environments and relationships can also be the source of our liberation.
Critically, we hold on to the essential value of connection and commitment for transformation. We have chosen artists and writers who all have something to say about these themes, through their varied lived experiences or their allyship. Through artworks and texts, the exhibition offers a series of reflections – departure points for thoughts and feelings that may flow from expressions of defiance, resilience, love, joy, pain, hope and from our complex interdependencies.
It is striking to us how, even if we roll our eyes at the often hackneyed use of “care”, “interdependence” and “love”, such words are becoming more central to our common vocabulary. The prevalence of ideologies of individualism in Western democracies throws such words into stark relief, and it seems that there is a growing awareness, however slight or uncertain, of our profound mutual connection and responsibility, not least in the context of the climate emergency. This exhibition foregrounds attention to these ideas, showing how, on the one hand, they have been individually expressed by artists, activists and writers and how, on the other, they are the shared fundamental realities of our existence.
Beholding Relations is structured around four guiding feelings, attitudes and actions. While scrolling through the artworks and texts will be, to some extent, linear, we do not want to suggest there is one narrative arc, but rather a mosaic of approaches to our various bodyminds and environments. Alongside each artist’s works, we have invited writers to offer alt-text image descriptions that incorporate their personal reflections in the context of disability liberation. These image descriptions offer an insight to the viewer’s own way of looking at the work. And so, even though you may be viewing them alone online, you will be looking in concert with another.
Facing & Challenging
These artworks and texts explore the reality and context of impairment through a world that may be uncertain and oppressive. They touch on fear, disgust, hope, insistence, love and meaning. For many disabled people, denial and exclusion form the shading to daily life and the works shown here seek to explore and understand this. Facing and challenging can be both defiant gestures of opposition and an insistence on shifting the terms of a dialogue toward more generative ends, not shutting it down completely. Tenderness and recuperation are coupled with joy and community in the works in this section, reminding us that oppression is never totalising.
Zoe’s work is rooted in the transformative time of the British disability movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when tens of thousands of disabled people and allies campaigned for civil rights. The neon slogans are direct references to the campaign, and their vivid illumination reflects both the shock and joy of a people breaking out of charitable victimhood and passivity. Bright and defiant, they are a reminder of the importance of remembering the slogans and phrases that have cohered disabled people…
Zoe’s work is rooted in the transformative time of the British disability movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when tens of thousands of disabled people and allies campaigned for civil rights. The neon slogans are direct references to the campaign, and their vivid illumination reflects both the shock and joy of a people breaking out of charitable victimhood and passivity. Bright and defiant, they are a reminder of the importance of remembering the slogans and phrases that have cohered disabled people in the defining moment of a liberatory movement. This movement was led by and for disabled people who demanded that their voices be heard and refused to accept their interests being represented by non-disabled people.
Piss on Pity
59.5 x 185.5 x 8 cm
Nothing About Us Without Us
69 x 168.5 x 8 cm
Piss on Pity
Zoe Partington (she/her) is a conceptual artist, auditor and creative equality trainer specialising in Disability Art who is based in Shropshire, UK. Through the use of 3D installation works, she explores creative and inclusive audio approaches in the arts, as well as tactile representations of disabled people’s journeys and experiences through life, landscapes and built environment.
Partington holds a BA in Media and Design from the University of Portsmouth and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art, Design and Architecture from the University of Central England. Her work Domestic Landscapes (2022) was shown in Madrid and across the UK, funded by ONCE in Spain and Arts Council England. Decoding Difference was shown at the London Festival of Design Biennial in 2023 at Somerset House. Turning it on its head was a Tu Fewn Cardiff Ffotography Festival winner (2015) and Sound Canvas was a JODI Award winner (2013). First Impressions was installed as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, developed to highlight the journeys of disabled people through urban space and challenge the lack of access in our environment.
Imagery of accidents and rescue from a 1950s Austrian alpine safety guide are overlaid with Alec’s handwritten poems, exploring help, care and power in the context of chronic illness and disability. The guide illustrates methods of support but solely in the context of an accident, when such support is immediate and partially temporary. Alec’s words reframe the imagery, asking us broader questions about sickness and vulnerability. How can we reconsider the help and support needed for a physical injury in the context of…
Imagery of accidents and rescue from a 1950s Austrian alpine safety guide are overlaid with Alec’s handwritten poems, exploring help, care and power in the context of chronic illness and disability. The guide illustrates methods of support but solely in the context of an accident, when such support is immediate and partially temporary. Alec’s words reframe the imagery, asking us broader questions about sickness and vulnerability. How can we reconsider the help and support needed for a physical injury in the context of chronic conditions? What power imbalances exist when one person is considered healthy and “strong” and the other disabled or “weak”? Challenging reigning concepts of individualism and the supposed “weakness” of needing help, these pieces reconstruct and reveal our interdependencies. They remind us that, in fact, we are all the helpers and the helped.
counterpane (‘limp limp limp’)
20.5 x 14 cm
counterpane (‘what can the sick do for the sick?’)
20.5 x 14 cm
Read the image descriptions by Jameisha Prescod, an artist-filmmaker, producer and writer
In two separate images, two illustrated bodies are depicted climbing a mountain. One person is carrying the other. The carried’s head is bandaged; it seems they were too injured to continue the climb alone. The carrier places the carried on their back and the journey resumes. Black text that says “What can the sick do for the sick?” and “limp, limp limp” are handwritten on the pages.
Perhaps we are to assume that the person carrying the other represents the non-sick, non-disabled bodies of the world. Maybe we’re supposed to believe that it’s the sole responsibility of these bodies to carry the rest of us to safety; to assume custody and dominion over us.
How could I take this stance when it’s always been the sick, the disabled and the dying that have helped me navigate a system that sees my worth directly tied to my perceived productivity? It’s the disabled bodies of the past and present that have carried me through this regardless of language, arbitrary borders and timezones.
So “what can the sick do for the sick?” The answer to that question will vary depending on who you ask. For me, it’s affirming that all human life is valid even if it’s tired and chronically ill. It’s being reminded that illness and disability are not signs of moral failure or lack of will. Like the illustrations of the climbers, it’s these affirmations that carry me when I question the validity of my existence.
Alec Finlay (he/him) is a Scottish artist and poet whose work considers how we as a culture, or cultures, relate to landscape and ecology. Through permanent and temporary interventions, integrative web-based projects and publications, he weaves together generous experiential works, often collaborative, sometimes mapped directly onto the landscape. Recently, Finlay’s work has focused on place-awareness and ecopoetics.
In 2020, Finlay received a Cholmondeley Award and he also designed Scotland’s Covid Memorial, I remember. Recent publications include I remember (2022); descriptions (2022); a far-off land (2018); gathering, published by Hauser & Wirth (2018); th’ fleety wud (2017); minnmouth (2017); A Variety of Cultures (2016); ebban an’ flowan (2015); and Global Oracle (2014).
Rooted in her experiences of intersectional marginalisat
Rooted in her experiences of intersectional marginalisat
Eco-Crip: Cybotanical Futures
64 x 280 x 12 cm
Read the image description by Rahila Gupta, a writer, freelance journalist and activist
You suck me in and spew me out
Sucked into a space both inside and out
In front of – and behind – your skin,
Layers of flesh, bones and innards
An uncomfortable space of deep intimacy and privilege
Yet your invitation seems grudgingly given
Demanding the right response – on your terms
What gaze am I allowed?
Do I dare assume equality?
Do I dare to contradict you?
Does my autonomy seek to wriggle out of your challenge?
But the hard edges are
Deceptively feather stroked by plant capillaries and fronds
I won’t get too comfortable
Sitting in the hollow of your pelvis
When bones are scaffolded by steel and strewn among flowers,
Their fragility held by pins.
I get it now – the anger
Of being locked into the medical diagnostic gaze
The loss of ownership
Your body scans belonging to an institution
Like the HeLa cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman,
Colonies of cells multiplying, as we speak, a new colonisation.
Lacks, aptly named, respect and permission.
The anger diminishes if humanity is the goal, not profit.
A light box plugged in.
A new world
A new language
Eco-crip, a cyborg, no, no computer implants, a cybotan, maybe?
A cybotanical future with green implants.
Digital art, data art, digitally produced – does AI disrupt the alliteration?
Being tugged by its roots
Stripping away layers of history, of racism and colonisation,
Naming buried artists
And shaming copyright protocols
Name under name, a pile of names, skewering the blinds of history
Exposing a different kind of privilege
They are all men.
Your unburdening is suffused with light and colour
Digitally produced, not plant based
No earthy browns of burial
No black of x-rays.
The fightback has begun.
– by Rahila Gupta
Three artworks displayed on backlit X-ray boxes and shown in a row are all the same size, divided by a thin white border between each of them.
Moving from left to right, the first work is a colourful, abstracted image in various green and yellow shades that simultaneously appears botanical and anatomical. In the centre, green and dark green columns travel from top to bottom, resembling the anatomical structure of a spine, but also large plant stems. Branching out from this are abstract shapes resembling leaves, petals and twigs in various shades of lime and yellow. Further from the central column, these branch out into green lines and curves that resemble a human ribcage. The entire structure forms an image of a torso, blending botanical and mechanical prostheses where the skeletal elements of the neck and spine would be. Towards the top of the image, on both sides, abstract yellow shapes suggest petals. Above this, in the top left and right corners, are lines of Punjabi script that read ‘ਅਪਾਹਜ ਸਰੀਰ ਵਿਰੋਧ ਦੇ ਸਥਾਨ ਹਨ’, translating to “Disabled bodies are sites of resistance”.
The second work is a colourful image in prominent shades of lilac, pink, black and green on a cream translucent panel, where botanical elements suggesting leaves and flowers merge with anatomical ones suggesting bones and joints, including the arch of a pelvis. There is also the appearance of mechanical elements such as screws, plates and devices that suggest bodily prostheses. The lilac, pink, black and green shapes arch around three lines of Punjabi script that read ‘ਅਪਾਹਜ ਸਰੀਰ ਗਤੀਸੀਲਤਾ ਨ ਪਾਰ ਕਰਦੇਹਨ’, translating to “Disabled bodies transcend mobility”.
The third work is a colourful, abstracted image in reds, pinks, greens and yellows that simultaneously appears botanical and anatomical. Two vertical columns of marks allude to flowers and other plant-like structures. There are also bold, dark red shapes that suggest bones, alongside other elements resembling mechanical screws, plates and prostheses. The columns bulge slightly in the lower third of the image and again are skeletal, suggestive of lower limbs, but their exact nature is unclear as the image also appears leafy. In the lower right corner is four lines of Punjabi script that reads ‘ਅਪਾਹਜ ਸਰੀਰ ਭਵਿਿੱਖ ਹਨ’, translating to “Disabled bodies are the future”.
Aminder Virdee (she/her) is a British South Asian multidisciplinary artist, writer, filmmaker, activist and community creative justice facilitator. Her artistic and social justice practice is navigated through an intersectional and auto-ethnographic lens; subverting and transforming spaces, routines, rituals, images, sounds and memories into political sites of radical agency.
Virdee holds an MA in Art and Science from Central Saint Martin’s, London (2022) and is a trustee at the UK’s leading disability-led live music accessibility organisation, Attitude is Everything. Her work has been featured in a variety of exhibitions, including Human Resources: Creativity as Renewable Energy in a Time of Scarcity, Lethaby Gallery and London Design Festival 2022; Beyond Breaking Point, Art Gene (2022); TATE Exchange, Tate Modern, London (2021); and Reclaimed, Art in Flux, National Gallery, London (2021).
Grappling & Commitment
Here, we consider the idea of connecting through difference without siloing our identities into opposing camps. These works explore the relational nature of identity in juxtaposition to the essential, in turn challenging us to consider the self in relation to the other, and independence versus interdependence. Real human connection generates a spectrum of feelings: the more we get to know one another, the more feelings come up and perhaps the less “smooth” relationships become. But we must hold ourselves open to the deep pleasure of more texture, more grit and more depth in relationship-building, rather than the seductive yet deceptive ease of the smooth and easy. Ultimately, this requires that we grapple with ourselves – our hurts, hopes and feelings – as well as remaining committed to one another even when (especially when) things seem difficult. Being together is relational, and it can be generative, generous and committed. Ultimately, it demands change.
Robert’s work looks at interdependency and collaboration in daily life as a queer, disabled man. A person with a spinal cord injury, he needs a lot of help on a day-to-day basis and realised soon after his injury that medical professionals were ill-equipped to consider the sex and sexuality of a young gay man, even as they were there to help him learn about his altered body. His photographs, which in his words range from “mild to wild”, are explorations of the liminal…
Robert Andy Coombs
Robert’s work looks at interdependency and collaboration in daily life as a queer, disabled man. A person with a spinal cord injury, he needs a lot of help on a day-to-day basis and realised soon after his injury that medical professionals were ill-equipped to consider the sex and sexuality of a young gay man, even as they were there to help him learn about his altered body. His photographs, which in his words range from “mild to wild”, are explorations of the liminal nature of care, intimacy, desire, tenderness and sex. He makes images in direct contradiction to the oppressive perspective of sexless, isolated disabled people and of normative assumptions about queer people too. Refusing the cold, medicalised aesthetic often associated with disabled bodies or the manipulative ambition of pornography, Robert’s photographs, with their concern for light, colour and composition, offer a tender and honest depiction of desire and eroticism, collaboration and care.
Robert Andy Coombs
Robert Andy Coombs
Grand Haven Beach
102 x 135 cm
Robert Andy Coombs
102 x 135 cm
Robert Andy Coombs
102 x 135 cm
Read the image descriptions by Josh Hepple, a writer, activist, lecturer and disability equality consultant
In the first image, Robert is topless leaning against a Black man, who is supporting his neck and head. Robert is also supported by a cushion. They are on a beach, and Robert is looking directly at the camera. His feeding tube is visible at the bottom of the image which suggests some kind of impairment. This is a beautiful way of depicting care and dependency in an unapologetic way. While Robert is requiring physical help, his facial expression demonstrates control.
In the second, two men are having sex, seen through the reflection of a glass window which looks out over a red brick house. Robert is lying on his back while sucking a Black man’s cock, the man on top is guiding his cock into Robert’s mouth which demonstrates that Robert is vulnerable. Robert’s feeding tube is also visible coming out from his groin area. The man on top is holding onto Robert’s standing machine to provide him with some stability. This shows that we all need some kind of support in different moments while not detracting from the vulnerability Robert has given, such as his feeding tube being exposed and the way he cannot lift his head or arms.
In the third, two men are having sex on a bed, a Black man is straddling another man whose legs are visible. The man on top is adjusting where his buttocks align with the other man. It is implied that the man on top could be adjusting or guiding the other man’s cock in a way that suggests that the man lying down could not do it by himself. We see a black tube behind the man on top as well as medication on the shelf on the right of the bed. This photo demonstrates some kind of connection between sexual activity and care, given the passivity of the man lying down.
Robert Andy Coombs (he/him) is a photographer based in Florida whose work explores the intersections of disability and sexuality, considering notions surrounding relationships, caregiving, fetish and sex. Granting the viewer intimate access to his daily life, the artist presents himself and others in nuanced portrayals that challenge preconceptions about disability.
During his third year as an undergraduate at Kendall College of Art and Design, Coombs sustained a spinal cord injury due to a gymnastics training accident. After a year of recovery, he returned to his studies and received his BFA in photography in 2013, followed by an MFA from Yale University. In 2021, his solo exhibition Notions of Care was shown at the Frost Art Museum FIU in Miami, Florida, followed by Fire Island Pines at the BOFFO Artist Residency, New York in 2022. The same year, his work was shown in several group exhibitions including Pure Joy, curated by Chella Man at 1969 Gallery, New York and Variance: Making, Unmaking, and Remaking Disability at RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island.
Looking intently at bodily details, Sophie explores how trauma is viscerally embodied, while also situating their work within broader geopolitical narratives of violence. In Membranes, at once immediately individual and curiously abstracted in its hyper-focus, the work explores both personal and collective experiences of trauma, particularly in relation to violence inflicted on the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) community. Documenting compulsive actions, coping strategies and self-harm, with a soundtrack that includes partially abstracted sounds associated with violence – screaming, helicopters, sirens – the source…
Looking intently at bodily details, Sophie explores how trauma is viscerally embodied, while also situating their work within broader geopolitical narratives of violence. In Membranes, at once immediately individual and curiously abstracted in its hyper-focus, the work explores both personal and collective experiences of trauma, particularly in relation to violence inflicted on the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) community. Documenting compulsive actions, coping strategies and self-harm, with a soundtrack that includes partially abstracted sounds associated with violence – screaming, helicopters, sirens – the source video for this print scrutinises how trauma is faced and re-experienced. The drawing Unwanted Contact…, suspended like a medical document or a banner, is part of Sophie’s commitment to creatively working through experiences of anxiety and the ways in which healthcare infrastructures measure, report on and image their body. Almost baroque in its fluidity and twisting forms, the drawing is defiantly expressive in the face of medically sterile representations of the body.
32.6 x 24 x 5.4 cm
30.48 x 40.64 cm
Read the image description by Gabriele Gervickaite, an artist, activist and writer
In Membranes, a colour still from a video work is a horizontal rectangle without a frame. The image shows a close-up of a person’s mouth with a black stick touching their lips. The mouth is open, and the stick pushes forcefully against the wet lips, causing them to turn inside out.
Cell coating layers or membranes could be referred to as a scientific term. We don’t say “my membrane” or “my cells”, as this creates distance from what actually occurs in an image. I would like to refer to it as “skin”. I see skin that acts as a barrier and protector of feelings, memories, thoughts, and all the organs that keep us alive. The entire video, including this still image, is abstract, making it difficult to identify a specific part of the body. This creates an intimate and welcoming atmosphere to explore internal emotions such as anxiety, fear and pleasure. The presence of plastic ropes and other metallic instruments adds an element of experiencing pleasure through pain. I refer to it as a kind of game because it reminds me of BDSM practices that involve roles and trust in each other. In this context, the membrane becomes independent, just like other body parts such as hair, hands and others, each with its own role. It evokes feelings as to how to survive, or to deal with inside / outside worlds and society.
In Unwanted Contact… a black and white drawing is inserted into a double-sided hanging lightbox with a black frame, suspended with metallic wires in the space. The image depicts a composition resembling a human-bird-fish hybrid, drawn with thin lines reminiscent of a spider web or tattoo design.
This image of Sophie Hoyle’s is very personal and political at the same time. Dealing with mental health and showing how you feel is a very powerful statement. Even if you are dealing with your own fear and anxiety alone, you should have support to talk about it. Artistic practice allows us to find our own language to talk about our inner worlds. Mental health is still a big issue for many of us. It’s political because we’re looking for support systems and help, but we’re not getting it, we’re not being accepted for who we are.
I see this image as a dancing figure, full of feelings and memories. It connects us with similar experiences. I’m dancing along with it as I write this text. As a community of artists with different abilities, we take care of and support each other.
Sophie Hoyle (they/them) is a London-based artist and writer whose practice explores an intersectional approach to post-colonial, queer, feminist and disability issues. Using moving image, installation and video-essay, they investigate how the personal and political intertwine and how alliances form at the crossroads of inequality and marginalisation.
From lived experience of psychiatric conditions and trauma (or PTSD), Hoyle began to explore the history of biomedical technologies in relation to state and military surveillance and control. Recent projects and exhibitions include LA Freewaves Presents: Vaguely Human, Spectacle Theater, New York; Mad Time Warp – Infinite Playlist, Party Office, documenta fifteen, Kassel; Social Marginalisation and Machine Learning: Defying the Labels of the Machinic Gaze, Autograph, London (all 2022); Monitoring: Myth and Microgravity, Kassel Documentary Film Festival; and APV Collective: Perspectives on Visibility, South Kiosk, London (both 2021).
Reframing the functionalism of surgical and medical designs, Nat reconfigures them into works that hint at utility and yet celebrate form and shape: “mobilising activism through artful fantasy”, as they have said. Showing how requirements for access, health and support need not only be shaped by need, but also by desire and beauty, their works envision disability as a generative point of departure for expressivity. As such, they are objects rooted in liberation, refusing pity and drabness, and are part of a profound, long-standing tradition…
Reframing the functionalism of surgical and medical designs, Nat reconfigures them into works that hint at utility and yet celebrate form and shape: “mobilising activism through artful fantasy”, as they have said. Showing how requirements for access, health and support need not only be shaped by need, but also by desire and beauty, their works envision disability as a generative point of departure for expressivity. As such, they are objects rooted in liberation, refusing pity and drabness, and are part of a profound, long-standing tradition of disabled people “cripping” equipment by decorating and subverting them into tools of joy and individual expression; in effect, they become extensions of the vibrancy and elemental aspects of life itself. Nat centres aspects of impairment and functionality, so often condemned, into ones of celebration and triumph; and not triumph over impairment (in the oppressive way often described as “inspiration porn”) but rather celebration and triumph in and of itself.
(IRL) Quad Cane 1
103 x 51 x 56 cm
60 X 41 cm
Read the image description by Agnes Fletcher, a diversity and inclusion consultant, activist and writer
Nat Decker’s work offered me a powerful, playful riposte to the concretisation of ableism; the pervasive systems, environments and products that disparage, imprison and limit the disabled body and that perpetuate social or economic exclusion and psychic dissonance. By sharing visually engaging and dynamic versions of orthotic equipment in a variety of media, their work encouraged reflection on how my own activism in the 1990s pre-rights era was psycho-therapeutic and physically energising for me. Their work also stimulated consideration of my continuing internalised ableism, as someone who has inhabited a non-normative body in a profoundly disabling culture for most of my life.
(IRL) Quad Cane 1 is a CG fantasy rollator walker in a pale pastel blue, with four silvery wheels linked by randomly curling poles, swirling upwards to a single handle, shaped for fingers to grasp it. This work encouraged me to reflect on my own experience of orthotics: spinal bracing and plaster casting in the 1990s and the crutches I have relied on periodically after surgeries, and will shortly do again. Instead of the dull grey and white functionality, emphasising deficit, struggle and a stigmatised non-conformity, the artist has created a device that energises, revels in movement and conveys physical difference as a launchpad for flamboyance, flair and fun.
In Dream Mobile, a print on metallic paper is held to a white board with magnets. A swirly green fuzzy star with a metallic centre is below a pink extruded symmetrical organic design, next to a pink splatter. In the centre, abstract glowing green bodies dance, holding hands. Framed in a swirly pink border, there is a bed in the lower right corner with extra-long twisting legs. Dream Mobile has all the sinewy movement and flow characterising Nat’s art. I felt an ease submerged in its soft swirls, at odds with my default expectations of stiffness and pain and an effortful, lopsided gait that characterises my sense of my own physicality. I experienced a gentle encouragement to accept inhabiting a disabled body; to consider its resilience, its stories of love, pleasure and birth-giving; to take pleasure in what it can do, including what it once did but can do no longer. Within its gentle dreamy pastels, I found pride and compassion for my one, disabled body.
Nat Decker (they/them) is a Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist who interprets the intimacies of queer and disabled lived experience as a provocation toward collective care and liberation. Creating between digital and physical mediums, their recent work uses 3D graphics to creatively reimagine mobility devices, imbuing them with fluid impractical form and vivid celebratory colour.
By creating non-functional mobility devices, Decker subjects these objects to aesthetic scrutiny, subverting the division between utility and desirability. In 2022, they completed a degree in Design/Media Arts and Disability Studies at UCLA, where they helped form the Disabled Student Union which worked towards better equity and access on campus. They also consult on accessibility for various arts organisations and were awarded the 2023 Processing Foundation Fellowship. Their work has been shown at SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco (2022) and in the online exhibition All Bound Together? with Shape Arts, UK (2021).
Attention & Curiosity
It is, we believe, a common and essential feature of humanness to move beyond our attitudes, assumptions and limitations – self-imposed or otherwise – by cultivating wonder and curiosity in ourselves and the people or environments around us. Disabled people have often been the subjects of an insidious form of curiosity, one rooted fundamentally in difference and distinction and keenly of “wrongness”: an object to look at, not a subject to be with. But wonder and curiosity can emerge from careful attention: attending to that which may be overlooked – a detail, something marginal, the quality of light, a little gesture.
To attend to something or someone is to want to reach out (the root of the word attention means “to stretch out”), not to grasp and control but to connect and listen. It is an unfortunate turn of phrase to say that an artist has “captured something”, for an art of attention does not capture, but enters into an intricate and open relation with its subject. We may all remember the demand to “pay attention!” from school, but the artworks we have assembled here encourage an attention which is not that of the frowning, anxious student, but one of open-eyed reflection. There is no “aim” to such attention, other than to let go of our assumptions and reach deeper into the world of which we are inextricably a part.
Not simply a boundary or container, skin is how we touch and are touched in a reciprocal relation with our environment. Through skin, we leave and gather traces of connection, warmth, moisture, even bacteria and viruses. And through skin we become marked and implicated, bearers of memory, carriers of illness, agents of touch. In close-up photographs of her leg following the removal of a brace, Gabriele reminds us that our skin is never a stable, smooth surface, but always becoming, shaped by touch…
Not simply a boundary or container, skin is how we touch and are touched in a reciprocal relation with our environment. Through skin, we leave and gather traces of connection, warmth, moisture, even bacteria and viruses. And through skin we become marked and implicated, bearers of memory, carriers of illness, agents of touch. In close-up photographs of her leg following the removal of a brace, Gabriele reminds us that our skin is never a stable, smooth surface, but always becoming, shaped by touch both personal and loving, impersonal and brutal. As scholars Sara Ahmed and Jackie Stacey write in Thinking Through Skin (2001), “skin becomes rather than is simply meaningful”. Printed on old photographic paper using an inkjet printer, Gabriele’s photographs are themselves an indication of the rich depth of a surface – whether skin or paper.
Memory Skin I
5 x 8 cm
Memory Skin II
5 x 8 cm
Read the image descriptions by Tom Shakespeare, a social scientist, bioethicist, writer and campaigner for disability rights
First, there is a landscape-format image, of black inked onto a pale background. The black silhouettes two pale shapes, a hemisphere intersecting with a half-hemisphere. The full hemisphere has markings suggesting rounding. We’re not sure what we’re looking at; it seems almost organic, but also functional. At the top of the image, there are two marks which could be drops of blood.
The second image is also landscape format and seems to be a photograph of scarred or cut skin. Again, the top left corner has been blackly inked in. We are not sure what it is, but it feels intimate: the artist talks about what her skin looks like after a surgical brace has been removed, and we wince at the marks the orthotic has left behind. Is this real, or is it synthetic, using the oilcloth which has been used in hospitals since Soviet times? Either way, it contains memories.
Gabriele Gervickaite (she/her) is a Lithuanian artist whose practice incorporates prosthetics, medical corsets, bandages and adhesive tapes that hold personal significance and represent memories of anaesthesia as a surreal journey into another world. She creates artworks using her body as archival material and studies the impact of the construction of normalcy – particularly in contemporary media, social and political situations.
Gervickaite is a member of the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association and she is currently a doctoral candidate at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. In addition to her artistic practice, she is a curator and she works in socially-engaged arts education. Her recent solo exhibitions include Memory Skin, Vilnius Academy of Arts Gallery Artifex, Vilnius (2020) and #0, Matters – Platform for Industrial Culture, Kaunas (2019), as well as group exhibitions at the Austrian Culture Forum, New York and the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius.
Through force of resilience, the late Stephen Dwoskin was a major artist and agent of change. His lifetime was mirrored by tectonic shifts in approaches to disability and liberation: born in 1939, Stephen was subjected to tortuous medical treatment but, by the time of his death in 2012, the world had seen the coming of the Social Model of disability. In his work, he refused to avoid the detail of his life as a disabled man and centred his “look”, his world and…
Through force of resilience, the late Stephen Dwoskin was a major artist and agent of change. His lifetime was mirrored by tectonic shifts in approaches to disability and liberation: born in 1939, Stephen was subjected to tortuous medical treatment but, by the time of his death in 2012, the world had seen the coming of the Social Model of disability. In his work, he refused to avoid the detail of his life as a disabled man and centred his “look”, his world and his viewpoint in his work. As an artist, Stephen was closely connected to “gaze theory”, reflected in the intensity of his work, which formed a direct challenge to the “freak-show” stare that was a feature of oppression and had become so associated with disabled minds and bodies. In Soliloquy and Grandpère’s Pear, we are drawn into every detail and moment of wonder.
Read the image descriptions by Rachel Garfield, an artist, writer and professor of fine art
Soliloquy is black and white, shot in close up, shadowy with a black background. It is claustrophobic as we only see the hands and parts of a face in the shot. One hand holds a cigarette at first. Then the hands feel a piece of dark cloth. At times a part of the woman’s head comes into shot, the lips, the teeth, hands touching the face, or stroking a curl of hair. At other times it is just the hands moving, or stroking each other, covering the face, or the eye looking out. At one point the woman holds up a small rectangular mirror. The shots sometimes move out of focus. It is quite abstract.
Grandpère’s Pear is digital, black and white, reshot from the artist’s father’s home movie in the 1940s. The film depicts a Dwoskin family get-together. The original footage is re-imagined through slow motion and close up and is very grainy, almost as if drawn in charcoal. The shots move to different people, closing in on their faces and then moving out again to give a sense of the gathering. At one point, a pear seems like a shiny, white, sparkling ball and the camera follows it around as the person holds it while talking and gesticulating. This movement fills the frame. There are many repetitions of people’s small movements, such as a head moving back and forth as someone speaks or looks, so it becomes both funny and poignant.
Stephen Dwoskin (1939–2012) was a groundbreaking experimental filmmaker who relocated from New York to London in 1964. He became a leading figure in avant-garde film circles and helped found the London Film-makers’ Co-op (now LUX). From the mid-1970s, he centred his work on his own body and in the following decades created personal documentaries about disability and diaspora. In the 2000s, increasingly limited in his movements but liberated from the demands of patrons, he returned to his “underground” roots.
Having contracted polio as a child, Dwoskin had limited mobility and several of his films, starting with Behindert (1974), reflect on his experience of disability. The actors, performers, and dancers he worked with include Carolee Schneemann, Jenny Runacre, Carola Regnier, Cosey Fanni Tutti and the Ballets Nègres troupe. His first films were soundtracked by Ron Geesin and during the 1970s he collaborated with the composer Gavin Bryars. In the 2000s, Dwoskin embraced digital technology and the creative freedom it afforded him, culminating in Age Is… (2012), his posthumously released final film.
Leah’s works emerged from experiences of insomnia and sleep paralysis, where the artist found herself in a strange, otherworldly headspace. In this series, she explores how sleeping may be a coping mechanism and a form of resistance to the dictates of labour, profitability and productivity. Interested in sleep as a parallel world to the waking one, she found resonances with how many sick and disabled people connect through voice messages and Zoom rather than in person, meeting in an uncanny virtual place without…
Leah’s works emerged from experiences of insomnia and sleep paralysis, where the artist found herself in a strange, otherworldly headspace. In this series, she explores how sleeping may be a coping mechanism and a form of resistance to the dictates of labour, profitability and productivity. Interested in sleep as a parallel world to the waking one, she found resonances with how many sick and disabled people connect through voice messages and Zoom rather than in person, meeting in an uncanny virtual place without bodies. Reflecting, too, on death as something on the “other side” of life and as a return to some primordial, aetherial state, Leah depicts the ghostly hinterlands of altered states, of bodily presence and digital absence, creating dream-like spaces that are at once alluringly magical in their sense of possibilities not yet formed and unsettling in their almost sinister atmosphere. She notes how such interstitial spaces may offer a retreat from the lived “experience of searing individualisation that is wakefulness”.
Acrylic lightbox, metal frame, with a printed image description and downloadable audio description
62 cm x 86.5 cm, 3 + 2AP
A Minute, or Millennia
Acrylic lightbox, metal frame, with a printed image description and downloadable audio description
62 x 86.5 cm, 3 + 2AP
An Eclipse Under The Skin
Dibond print, vinyl, with a printed image description and downloadable audio description
65.5 x 100 cm, 3 + 2AP
Read the image descriptions by Alec Finlay, an artist and poet
is (was) the length of last night
bit with breath-knots
while the figure of the fig
riffs on the orange blinds
and a fresh wash of cars
daubs over some dawn radio
I’m in sleep debt again
the bed bends
the tea’s on
crinkling the sheet
that never fits
I’m further away from “then”
yes I suppose but somehow no
so let it soak in then splash
more hot in the bucket
or (sigh) try a cold bath
is it really a choice between
(i) victims, and (ii) vitamins?
do you need pics—or what?—
doesn’t mean it never happened
Leah Clements (she/her) is an artist from and based in East London whose practice spans film, photography, performance, writing, installation and other media. Her work is concerned with the relationship between psychological, emotional and physical states, often through personal accounts of unusual or hard-to-articulate experiences. Her practice also focuses on sickness and disability in art, in critical and practical ways.
Recent projects include Clements’ solo exhibitions INSOMNIA at South Kiosk (2022–23), London, and The Siren of the Deep at Eastside Projects (2021), Birmingham. She was artist-in-residence at Serpentine Galleries (2020–21) and her performance Hyperbaric was commissioned for the ‘Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy’ programme at Somerset House Studios, with a second iteration commissioned by Rupert at the Artists’ Association Gallery, Vilnius (both 2020). Upcoming projects include a solo show at PEER Gallery, and an artwork commissioned by Bethlem for a new hospital in London.
When a cerebral haemorrhage forced Katherine to relearn painting with her left hand, the artist began to explore loss, change and transformation as creatively generative, refusing the ableist narrative that becoming disabled is a tragedy. Throughout her work, she explores how transience and transformation are fundamental conditions of all lives. Her series Brain Flowers takes the canonical form of vanitas paintings, often opulent still lifes that allude to death as a reminder that all things…
When a cerebral haemorrhage forced Katherine to relearn painting with her left hand, the artist began to explore loss, change and transformation as creatively generative, refusing the ableist narrative that becoming disabled is a tragedy. Throughout her work, she explores how transience and transformation are fundamental conditions of all lives. Her series Brain Flowers takes the canonical form of vanitas paintings, often opulent still lifes that allude to death as a reminder that all things will transform, fade and die. Many of the works she references are by women artists of the 17th century who have been largely omitted from art history. Incorporating medical imagery, including her own MRI brain scans, Katherine foregrounds disability in her dialogue with and homage to her forebears. Just as they did, she draws attention to how curiosity about all life forms, including our own, can unsettle our assumptions and attitudes about them, thus becoming a source of liberatory ways of relating to the world around us.
Blue Vase (After G.G.)
117 x 89 cm
Ham and Pewter (After M.v.O.)
91 x 140 cm
Sawtooth (After M.v.O.)
107 x 79 cm
Read the image descriptions by Eli Clare, a writer, speaker, activist, teacher and poet
Bright flowers – red, pink, yellow, purple, white. Overflowing leaves. Green stems underwater, fMRIs of Sherwood’s brain that look like flowers, or maybe flowers masquerading as fMRIs. Fruit growing roots across a table. Grey metal tools that might be kitchen implements, or possibly medical instruments. A vase painted subdued blue and white, a contained scene of its own – a human inside a plant world. Peas in a pod, purple ball-like blossoms, yellow petals wilted – all fallen from vase to table.
These three paintings of Katherine Sherwood’s, part of her Brain Flower series, contain layers upon layers. Layers of colour. Layers of history as Sherwood works on the backside of 17th-century paintings and pays homage to women artists, including Maria van Oosterwyck and Giovanna Garzoni. Layers of meaning as she transforms medical
images into lush flowers and, in the case of Ham with Pewter, into a cut of meat.
These still life paintings, recentred from the 17th century, are in no way still or static. Ferment vibrates in Sherwood’s pieces. Her flowers, draping leaves and fruits are certainly pretty but also fecund, transitory, imperfect. At the core is a disability reclamation of cold, sterile medical images, which all too often doctors use to strengthen their authority over disabled and chronically ill people’s bodyminds. In creating bright fecund flowers – moments of beauty – from fMRIs of her brain, Sherwood’s reclamation joins, and further nuances, one of the major themes of disability arts and culture. She recentres her own medical data, transforming it into images of beautiful ferment stripped of medicine’s authority and meaning, ultimately claiming her own authority as a disabled woman artist.
These recentreings – of medical images, of women painters from the 1600s, of the backsides of old paintings – make the ferment of Sherwood’s flowers all the more vibrant.
Katherine Sherwood (she/her) is a California-based artist who addresses intersectionality, feminism and art history through the lens of disability in her work. As she redeveloped her approach to painting following a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 44, her work became an extension of her activism for disability rights. Often referencing historical paintings and genres, she considers how both ableism and gender play a role in our understanding of art both historical and contemporary.
Sherwood received a BA from the University of California (1975) and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (1979), later teaching at UC Berkeley for over thirty years until her retirement in 2011. Her work has been widely exhibited internationally and she has received several awards, including an NEA Artist Fellowship (1989), Pollock-Krasner Grant (1998), Guggenheim Fellowship Award (2005) and Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2006). Her work is in major public collections including the Ford Foundation, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., among others.
Hope & Love
To want someone is to want to build a relationship. Such relations may be complex and multiple and they may well be proscribed or rendered “unsuitable” by a hegemonic idea of what relationships should be. In societies where there are attempts to constrain all forms of relationship-building (in particular, gay or queer relationships) so as to maintain power distinctions, the pleasure of continuously creating wider, richer relations is liberatory.
Hope comes through love, in the sense that it is through alliances beyond and in spite of divisions wrought in the service of power that the hope of living otherwise – of flourishing – can be built. We often speak of “fierce love” and, indeed, this fierceness can be galvanising and generative. This last section explores what it means to be fiercely in love with the promise and possibility of more flourishing worlds and human connections. Precarity, the demands of productivity and the impact of loneliness may militate against feelings of hope, but artists and writers show us how we may continue to create generously, with humour and with tenderness.
RA writes of “illness as generative: holding the possibility of being changed, of making new tracks in the terrain”. Their site-specific installation references crop circles and the electron configuration of the six most common elements on earth, fundamental to life: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur. Their video collages the demands of productivity in a capitalist consumer society, while exploring its impact on all life forms. In these works, RA explores need, rage and disbelief,…
RA writes of “illness as generative: holding the possibility of being changed, of making new tracks in the terrain”. Their site-specific installation references crop circles and the electron configuration of the six most common elements on earth, fundamental to life: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur. Their video collages the demands of productivity in a capitalist consumer society, while exploring its impact on all life forms. In these works, RA explores need, rage and disbelief, but their practice is rooted in an undeniable sense of hope through vulnerability, emerging from an understanding that all living beings are intimately, inextricably entangled in shifting states of sickness and wellness. They encourage us to see how our mutual responsibilities lie in developing structures of support, especially when we feel othered or lost because we cannot “keep up” with the prevailing system. RA counters this sense of falling behind, by reflecting on the wisdom that comes from “learning through the failing of systems”. They acknowledge all life’s fundamental need for help and the transformational, generous capacity of access precisely because it requires connection and responsiveness.
Sound and performance by The Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker, mastering by Melissa Harris Chambers, video editing by Judy Landkammer, drone videography by Noisemaker Media and Noah Rosecrans
Read the image descriptions by Leah Clements, an artist and writer
science fiction is not pretend
A bleakness I am grateful for. A rage not repressed behind a friendly face. Tired upon tired of insisting “honest we’re not monsters”, here instead is “let’s get the monsters out then”.
Clip after clip of human-made disasters and ad-hoc lab experiments in varying degrees of grainy pixelation. Compiled in tab-like frames, they’re an assortment of aspect ratios which point to YouTube, or something filmed on a phone. This and other devices that we hold close to our bodies as windows onto these seedy underbelly existences. A bubbling mass in liquid. A tiny baby bird being fed with a syringe, mouth gaping open – sitting on a white pillowy thing on a desk in front of someone’s computer. Not very official.
Someone pointing at jars, giving prepper tips? A home-made cooking lesson with an enormous slab of meat. A lake burning – fire and a fat column of smoke billowing upwards. Black mould growing in a jar, someone pushing their foot on a bloated pocket of grass which ripples like there’s water under there. Yellow pills in a petri dish bubble and fizz and send flat slow lightning to each other, setting the next one off to continue the reaction. Pigs struggling to move in tiny cages, a mouth chewing (eiw), a tree on fire, a lake shrinking. Sciencey graphics with colourful spheres, a hand poking a pink soft thing, brown liquid in a dish grows coral-like formations upwards at its edges. The bird again, close-up. The video ends on its gaping mouth, directed at us like a silent shout, as the audio describes people walking by the narrator’s sick bed, protesting and sounding great (“Congrats.”)
And throughout, the distorted narrating voice, barely able to hold itself up under a heavy gravity, retains a power. A fury, not embodied in energetic violence, but seeping out, simmered and distilled.
access points // or // alternative states of matter(ing)
A series of six enormous disks set into green and patchy brown grassland, lined up just beyond a row of trees.
The scale is hard to grasp. They are planetary, atomic, astronomical, microscopic.
It would take perhaps thirty people standing in a circle around the edge, holding hands, to encircle one of them. These people would be able to look down on it: flat; suspended somewhere below their hips.
Up close, a perforated metallic colour. From above, a solid white. They are alien in the most alieney way, and familiar. Scientific and mythic. Each has at its centre a solid circle, expanded out into concentric rings – one, two, or three of them. These rings hold solid circles of their own, varying in number in each instance.
These are crop circles that, rather than imprints, look like they could hover and take back off to the sky they came from. Their presence generates uneasiness. I imagine if you got up close or under them, they’d hum.
science fiction is not pretend
The artist’s interactive website includes audio described video and transcript, developed in collaboration with Cooper Lovano
access points // or // alternative states of matter(ing)
The artist’s interactive website includes archival research that informed their site-specific installation at Storm King Art Center
RA Walden is a transdisciplinary artist based in London and Berlin whose work centres a queer, disabled perspective on the fragility of the body. Their practice is concerned with physicality and its interplay with other social categorisations and power differentials, questioning western society’s relationship to care and vulnerability in relation to bodies, communities and ecosystems.
Walden’s work access points // or // alternative states of matter(ing) is currently installed at Storm King Art Center, New York, as part of their Outlooks programme. They have previous had solo exhibitions at venues including Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam (2021); Nars Foundation, New York (2019); SOHO20 Gallery, New York (2019); and Helmut Gallery, Leipzig (2018). Recent group exhibitions include one day I will feel my power, Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2023); Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer, Schwules Museum, Berlin (2022);
On Queer Ground, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2022); Queering the Belvedere, Belvedere 21, Vienna (2021); and KNOW MY NAME, National Gallery of Australia (2020).
Life is both ordinary and exceptional. We are one moment well, the next ill. We require support, we provide support. We can but grapple, hope, commit and creatively reconfigure what we already have. Milda explores these elements of daily life and how the ordinary and extraordinary extend into one another, showing how we can abandon binary narratives of failure and success, beauty and ugliness, healthy and ill, brilliant and banal. hope it finds you well is a moving portrait…
Life is both ordinary and exceptional. We are one moment well, the next ill. We require support, we provide support. We can but grapple, hope, commit and creatively reconfigure what we already have. Milda explores these elements of daily life and how the ordinary and extraordinary extend into one another, showing how we can abandon binary narratives of failure and success, beauty and ugliness, healthy and ill, brilliant and banal. hope it finds you well is a moving portrait of Milda’s own experiences of grappling with a diagnosis and is a visual essay of different approaches to healing and hope. Powerfully honest, the film is shot and edited from perspectives rooted in experiences of waiting, longing and vulnerability. Complementing her investigation into hope, Day Dream explores how daydreaming affects our perceptions of the past, present and future and how daydreaming can be both liberatory and a form of entrapment. Created in collaboration with friends, the work is also a testament to the power of being with one another and the wonder of invention.
Read the image descriptions by Jenny Chamarette, a researcher, author, professional coach and mentor
In hope it finds you well and in Day Dream, Milda Januseviciute makes space for opacity and intimacy. Investigating healing, hope, resilience and embodiment, her films attend intimately to a body in and out of place.
hope it finds you well finds wounding in a site of healing – an ayurvedic clinic in Puttaparthi, India. There is confinement and waiting: hands illuminated by a torch attempt unsuccessfully to break a padlock with a metal file; an outdoor conservatory’s complex latticework resembles a cage. Illness-time manifests in a pink apartment where incense rises from a corner, and a wall-hanging of the Buddha wafts gently. A woman’s voiceover croons, recites extracts from Sylvia Plath’s poem Tulips. In horizontal split-screen a man’s head, torso, prescribes medicinal ghee to a patient – me? From a distance, men and women thresh reeds, while yellow captions reveal the relationships between hope (a bond of trust between patient and practitioner) and resilience (the capacity to re-form under conditions of uncertainty).
Day Dream‘s femme-presenting protagonist performs a role-ritual triad. Dressed in voile and flowering plants she stumbles through a sloping forest. Along the trunk of a fallen tree leading out to a lake she falters, slips, leaps, grabbing a rope that holds her, while skin and voile and plants meet, cocooned in the water’s green embrace. Dressed in white and silver, she is cast in an empty overgrown arena, dancing with her dreams. In a frayed waffle robe she performs backstage, front of house, in a huge unfinished theatre warehouse. She recites lines, laughs, smokes, responds to an invisible audience – like other women who have taken to creative endeavours to invent their own lives. I am apart from her here, watching her from outside. Her skin is no longer against mine, in the opacity of a final starburst.
Milda Januseviciute is a Lithuanian artist and cultural sociologist whose field of interest includes interdisciplinary projects exploring themes of care, healthcare, hope and resilience. In her moving image works, the artist’s autobiography, sociological observations and everyday experiences blend with reflections on cultural differences and how these inform philosophies and practices of healing.
Januseviciute holds a BA in Management of Cultural Activities from Vilnius University of Applied Sciences (2011) and an MA in Sociology of Arts and Culture from Erasmus University, Rotterdam (2017). The artist’s solo exhibition (as Liudmila), Karmagedon was shown at Editorial Project Space, Vilnius in 2023. Her work has recently been shown in group exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, and Editorial Project Space, Vilnius. She has been included in film presentations at the National Gallery of Art and the Rupert Center for Art and Education, Vilnius; Wellcome Collection, London; Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam; and PAF: the Festival of Film Animation and Contemporary Art, Olomouc.
Societies across the world are driven by an insistence on productivity and work. Even resting itself is harnessed as a means to greater productivity. When the infrastructures of society are so closely linked by a drive to make and do more, the need to stop and rest can seem an impossibility. Resting Museum (duo Priyanka D’Souza and Shreyasi Pathak) explore how perceived “failures” to “keep up” may also offer a hopeful insight into other ways of thinking and being in time and space…
Societies across the world are driven by an insistence on productivity and work. Even resting itself is harnessed as a means to greater productivity. When the infrastructures of society are so closely linked by a drive to make and do more, the need to stop and rest can seem an impossibility. Resting Museum (duo Priyanka D’Souza and Shreyasi Pathak) explore how perceived “failures” to “keep up” may also offer a hopeful insight into other ways of thinking and being in time and space than those naturalised by dominant assumptions of normalcy and capitalism’s insistence on productivity, speed and efficiency; in their words, they ask “How can we imagine rest and ‘failure’ as politically radical?” In their often playful work, they note how systems of oppression may appear so monolithic that any attempt to challenge them can only require exhausting effort with no time for rest. And yet, by drawing attention to a detail, object or single word, they encourage viewers to pause and reflect on something we may ordinarily take for granted and so consider how we may think and act otherwise.
20 x 25 cm
12 x 70 cm
Read the image descriptions by Khairani Barokka, a writer, poet and artist
line, row, course
the work of a day’
is written to the right of it: oyster in pastel, corrugated light, grit coagulated, layers are cells that fold over and inwards when under threat, world-hardened sediment of nerve compression, the work of a day is a weight held in situ, in organs, the holy carapace of it, the callous of a day, the corporeal kept in ethereal purples, the bruises turned boils, the delicate asteroids bone-deep and resting, each day a new luminescence and density, mollusk shell of memories condensed mineralic, my stone-clam of all-felt, our talisman of innards cramped iridescent into holy artefact.
is written, in a mind, underneath it: two strips of sand and a band-aid on one, a sock illustrated on the other; a plaster is also a stripping you bare of assumptions that you are invulnerable, and the world may see your precise place now of attempting-to-heal, the shuffle in socks as a low-to-the-ground grade of ambient sound in witness to the quiet, the beige, the lilac, lighter tones, the gravelliness of continuous path, the persistence of living, the parallels between modes of covering oneself in softness with hopes of protection; the deepest protection is softest to skin, a light band of fabric across your body and the whisper of a desert dune comprised of infinitesimal grains of bearing it.
Resting Museum is an artistic duo consisting of Shreyasi Pathak and Priyanka D’Souza. They use rest, queerness and disability as a methodology in their artistic practice and curatorial projects to intervene in art historical discourses and archives. They are interested in the aesthetics of the incomplete and the performativity of the missing body in disability theory, and how these can be used in institutional and infrastructural critique.
In 2023 Resting Museum had a solo exhibition Aubade with ______ at Gallery Shrine Empire, Delhi. Recent group exhibitions include Falling Through a Signal by -out-of-line- collective at FICA Reading Room, Delhi (2023); Forestial Flock at Gallery Shrine Empire, Delhi (2022); and People’s Freedom 75, Mumbai.
About the curators
David Ruebain is a lawyer now working in higher education at the University of Sussex, while Yates Norton is a curator at the Roberts Institute of Art. As close friends and collaborators, they share a commitment to disability justice work and have explored the meanings of interdependence, commitment and allyship across different identities. This has included public talks in arts spaces (National Gallery of Lithuania, Vilnius; Serpentine Galleries, London; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and Rupert, Vilnius), at universities (Boston, Cambridge, Greenwich), on artists (Stephen Dwoskin) and in journals (Tohu).
Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for disabled people by providing opportunities for disabled artists, training cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people, and through running participatory arts and development programmes.