Interrogating Disability

red vinyl text on a window - it doesn't have to be like this

On the 23rd of November I chaired an invited panel to explore issues relating to disabled visual artists and curating at MAC Birmingham in association with Disability Arts Online. I wanted to bring together a mix of artists and curators and begin a conversation, hopefully not repeating the same old stuff we hear time and again at events like this. I think we achieved that.

What are the barriers to increasing representation of disabled artists within traditional gallery spaces? Do disabled artists need to follow the normative path of representation? Is there room beyond the gallery to create sustainable careers for disabled artists? Where are the spaces for critique?

A white newsboard with Salisbury Journal in blue at the top. Black text on white paper where the newspaper should be reads: Please Mind The Barriers.
Aidan Moesby: Salisbury Festival Text Intervention

Disabled artist and curator, Aidan Moesby chairs a conversation with artists and curators to unpack these provocations. The panellists are curator and writer, George Vasey; MAC visual arts producer, Jessica Litherland; and artists Sue Austin and Anna Berry.

As an artist, curator and writer, Aidan Moesby’s work is at the intersection of the visual arts, wellbeing and increasingly, technology. He uses the locations he occupies as a ‘Live Laboratory’ to research, develop, test and make work. Site or context-specific interventions serve as a catalyst for a socially-engaged conversation and personal or communal exploration.

Jessica Litherland has been a curator for 16 years, and is Visual Arts Producer at MAC, Birmingham’s pioneering arts complex. MAC specialises in contemporary work and making art an important part of people’s lives. Jessica originally trained as an artist gaining a BA in Fine Art before undertaking MA studies in both Critical & Contextual Visual Arts Practices and Museum Studies. She curates exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, working with a range of national and international artists. She is particularly interested in craft and applied arts, especially textiles and ceramics.

George Vasey is a curator at the Wellcome Collection and writer based between London and Saltburn by the Sea. In 2017 he co-curated the Turner Prize at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. He has previously delivered curatorial projects for artist-led, commercial and public galleries across the UK. His writing regularly appears in art magazines and artist’s catalogues including Art Monthly, Frieze and Mousse.

Anna Berry mostly creates socially- and politically-conscious pieces, large (sometimes kinetic) installations, and often works with paper. Very much an art-world outsider, her work is usually shown in non-gallery environments. She likes to respond to specific places and ideas. Conceptually her work often explores issues surrounding reality and experience, and by extension the nature of reality.

Sue Austin is a multimedia, performance and installation artist. Over an extended period of time her practice has operated as a vehicle to open up a thinking space around the materiality of the wheelchair. This is being used as a metaphor to raise questions about the value of diversity to society through raising the profile of ‘difference’.

A-N covered the event here

George Vasey responded and reflected on the event here

Colin Hambrook responds here