Creatives in Con.Text, the work from which the idea for this exhibition exhibition evolved, is awaiting further conversation with a printer, Sue Austin and Liz Crow are finessing 'Creating the Spectacle!' (film) and 'Bedding Out' respectively; 'People Like You' is coming together.
The five soft-sculpture figures jostle, in my head, for the most effective way to relate to each other and to the architecture on offer. Two of them are pretty much decided.
It is totally instinctive
the small in-breath and holding it.
The body angle, response to
spatial awareness, shoulders just
so and heartbeat nudging increase.
Without eye contact, conscious yet
unconscious; focused on other
for the instant of pushing through.
access demand brief encounter;
fleeting engagement with naked
exposed skin, breaching personal
space, hinting towards Imponderabilia
an artwork that demands your
on a physical level not
accessible to anyone
clothed in a metal framework;
people whose personal space boundaries
have no finer sensation.
Kouros and Koure stand before steps, their own naked fragility holding traces of each passing encounter. They stand wide enough apart to accommodate any wheelchair, yet they stand before steps. Kouros and Koure offer you space to consider access: public, personal, intimate,
And they challenge you to consider the weighty negativity of being continually offered so much more personal space than courtesy, or naked skin, demands.
The preposterous assumption that just because some people can get out of wheelchairs and climb flights of steps it's ok to reckon that we all can, has been preying on my mind. With more and more people buying mobility equipment for a variety of reasons that may or may not be associated with disabilty, I wonder how Disability Equality trainers cope with this issue.
I'm well aware that the general public do not register the difference between wheelchairs and mobility scooters: wheels are wheels.
And there is also almost no differentiating between users of wheels - apart from gender. I get mistaken for the oddest of people and I do find it offensive that people who know me and the other people in question, cannot be bothered to register the difference.
I'm not talking about small, hard to spot differences, I am talking about being mistaken for the plump, blue eyed woman with both legs amputated; I'm a size small with khaki-green eyes and both my legs. I also get mistaken for the woman who always travels her powerchair with a walking frame, an assistance dog and wearing a neck brace. I have none of these.
I do have blonde hair long enough to pin up with a variety of trademark chopsticks, yet am frequently mistaken for a short and curly haired woman on a scooter.
What makes all this so ironic is that I'm currently working on material for an exhibition called 'People Like You'. The phrase, originally offered to me with the words: 'should be taken out and shot' is now intended to highlight our common humanity, infer equality and play with the implications of the word 'like'.
It isn't meant to suggest that wheelborne are all much of a muchness and indistinguishable from each other.
Hey guys it's me! No really,
I know I'm wearing wheels, but
honest, it's me and I'm not
sporting a wig. I haven't
shot the dog, or had a change
of personality. I'm
not wearing coloured contacts,
or borrowed legs, I'm not the
grumpy one who runs people
over. And I'm not the one
for screwing the
Hey guys, it's me.
The door is open, reversing I seek to bump my way up the small step. It is painful and I get stuck on my first attempt, but this is the only way in and I persevere. I check out the two rooms I can get to, but there is no-one.
There is no reply. I am actually three minutes late, having had to find a wheelchair accessible route around a flooded subway. I told everyone I would be here for this second consultation, but there is no one waiting. I roll as far as I can towards the sound of voices and call out again. Nothing. There are steps at each end of the entrance hall.
I wait, I call. Eventually I decide to leave.
A staff member strolls in and says that the meeting is not in the accessible room we used last time, but up a flight of stairs. It is suggested that I should be able to get there and a second person joins in the process of persuasion. These two women volunteer three absent men to lift my powerchair. They volunteer one to make a ramp for a steep flight of six steps in a small space. Several other badly informed access suggestions are offered. They are unsafe, undignified and unworkable and I refuse.
The ladies make it plain they find me uncooperative.
I am persuaded around to the outside right of the building to discover small steps and flights of steps not navigable in a powerchair. I am then led around the outside to the left, to further flights of steps I cannot navigate. At the top of the steps a man joins the ladies for a conversation while I am left waiting. At one point I hear him say no, the lawn is waterlogged; I can see that for myself.
It is cold. One of the women comes to suggest that I try the right again. At my less than enthusiastic response she walks away. I have had enough of the farce. Disappointed and offended, I roll home.
Later I get a phone call. The word apology is mentioned followed by the accusation that I was late; the speaker sugests that the inaccessible room is justified by my being late (three minutes), and the allegation that no one was certain I would be there. It is backed up by the assertion that since a lot of people in wheelchairs do get out to climb stairs it was not unreasonable to assume that I would too.
Considering the fuss I have been making about having an accessible meeting room, I wonder on what grounds the speaker feels justified in holding this preposterous opinion.
Since no-one told him I was there, the man making the phone call (same man who called the meeting), does not actually accept any fault, repeating that the meeting started on time and I was late.
I heard the apology word but I cannot accept it, I reject the guilt he tries to lay on me. This feels so much like the behaviour of an abuser blaming a victim and I refuse to be the victim.
Who or what kind of
leaves such a bad stain?
How sincere is an offered
delivered as a command?
How valuable is the word
backed up with accusation?
How much are empty