Speaking today at DaDaFest09 for a panel titled 'Art with an edge' with Debbi Lander, Tom Shakespeare and others.

Some notes from the day:

DaDaFest 2009-11-28

Alexa Wright, artist

Photography of people with acquired disabilities

Sky tv wer recording magnolia prize in 1998 - when they discovered I had won, they did not want to show the work

“Ok to show physical difference in a scientific context, but when it is in an artist context, it was somehow unacceptable”

“image of me the author of the work who incorporates the otherness that these bodies represent”

“inclination to desexualize people with physical disabilities”

Skin (2001) - research at hospital - medical photographs - not just documenting skin conditions, but beautiful photographs - led to a photo and  text work - skin as acceptable, social surface - interface between me and rest of the world - what happens when surface is not ‘polite’ - invu 10-12 people, photographed 5 - digital snap shots - fabrics to complement - re-appropriating medical photographs and inserting into different contexts - trying to make beautiful.

Noella - psorasis -

June -

Cover Story (2006) - installation  - work about the face - what it would be like to live without a legible or viable face - identity invested in the face - originally used in Norwich for UK Science week (2006) - needed to be accessible and function in public space - visual cue: a blob that slowly becomes a face - try to read the face: its age, gender, race, etc - to assign character in history - second video: taking fragments from people speaking about their faces and bring together, narrated by someone who has no unusual face


Nazis used photography to identify profiles and types

The re-imaging of disability: Different art, different audiences, different artists

Tom Shakespeare

Disability is at heart of human condition

Happy for non-disabled artists to make work about disability

Instead of ‘disability’ use ‘predicament’

Traditional: art with disabled people

Representationa: art about disabled people

Radical: disability art by disabled people for disabled people

Individual: artis who happens to have a disability

Existential: art as a tool for thinking about disability, by anyone for anyone

John Keats - ‘negative capability’

Cathy Come Home - Ken Loach - homelessness - led to ‘shelter’ - art can bring home an issue in a way that academic may not

What do disabled people need? -understanding of shared humanity - recognition of social barriers - acceptance

Mona Hatoum (1998) Untitled (wheelchair) - clinical medical wheelchair - cannot self propel - uncomfortable - push handles are carving knives - disability, anger, relationships between carer and cared for - tool for thinking - title: does not prescribe

Julian Germain - bioethics, genetics - family photographs - generations - resemblance - single sex - all wearing same shirts - heredity write large - can see how genes determine them - personality

Christine Borland (2001) Progressive Disorder - drawings of young boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy - boy getting to his feet - from 19th C doctor -

Aidan shingler - www.oneinahundred.co.uk - Rorschach blocks - one is a butterfly - 1 in 100 experience schizophrenia - butterfly reflects the joy of the condition - psychiatrist often wear bow tie - ‘The Butterfly Collector  - commentary on psychiatry -

Elio Caccavalle - MyBio, Utility Pets - use art to think of futures - interested in genetically modified animals - xenotransplantation - how develop products to help negotiate bioethical challenges -

Tom Shakespeare, The Wrong Birth (after Fuseli), 2007 - original has a horse - in original, was a goblin - mistaken idea that night mare meant horse in your dream - concern that was about the fear of having a disabled child - in terms of prenatal diagnosis - every pregnancy is tested - now more aware of possibility of having a disabled child - whatever she chooses, have to take responsibility - didn't want to comment on it - just wanted to realize it - I didn't actually sit on her chest, we photoshopped it - image 1.5m wide - photography by Keith Patterson - Jack Lowe did photoshop -

Tom Shakespeare, The Good Death (after Mantegna), 2008 - dead Christ - limited tonal range - Christ laying on slab - early years of perspective - radically foreshortened -so much so that the man could have restricted growth

Tom Shakespeare, Figure with Meat (after Bacon), 2009 - from Velazquez pope on throne - most interesting part of picture is the meat - hard to access - meat markeing board sent these images.

Benefits of this work - explores, depends, challenges, interpret science for wider audiences - bring disability to mainstream - reveal emotional and relational - questions about ethics and responsibility, difference and identity - complex, nuances, simultaneous: show not tell

Not keen on notion of disability art

Reveal emotional and relational

Glenway Westcott comment on Walker Evans (1938): for me this is better propaganda than it would be if it were not aesthetically enjoyable. It is because I enjoy looking that I go on looking, until the pity and the shame are impressed upon me, unforgettably.