The Mad Square: Boxes, Boxes, and More Boxes

Our physical differences make us who we are, otherwise we will be someone else. If we weren’t occupying the disability box, we would be occupying another one. I’m sure it pisses the categorisers off knowing that we purposely upset the hierarchy of categorisation and the row of tidy boxes.

Ever since humans began running around the planet, categorising things and putting them into nice tidy boxes, there are other human beings who through circumstance, accident, quirks of birth or sheer wilfulness, stubbornly refuse to live in the stifling confines of someone else’s idea of what, or who they are.

Disability is one of these boxes. It marks us as different. It comes with a negative connotation that implies we cannot connect with the world, and that we cannot experience everything it has to offer, because we are lacking a faculty: be it hearing, sight, intelligence, or movement. What’s worse, it further implies that we have nothing to offer.

We often fail to see the person behind the disability due to fear or ignorance. We only see the packaging and not much else, which is why Emmanuel Kelly’s performance on The X Factor 2011, was a challenge for the judges and the audience. Will they see a singer/ performer, or will they see a young man with missing limbs, rising stoically to the occassion?

But we are different. Damn it, we are! No amount of gnashing and pulling hair out is going to change the fact that we have missing limbs, sight, hearing, mental faculties, restricted movements and whatever else constitutes disability. Unfortunately, because we don’t fit the social ideal, we are allowed to fall by the way side.

Accessible Arts recognises this, and its modus operandi is to promote full inclusion, access and cultural opportunities in the arts for people with disabilities through advocacy, education and information. In short, to give the people who don’t fit into these boxes, a leg up, so that they too can explore and fulfil their potential.

Challenging perceptions is what Accessible Arts is promoting with its upcoming exhibition, Framing Gravity . Framing Gravity is the fifth in a series of exhibitions that began in 2006, and aimed at giving artists with a disability, the opportunity to show their work as professionals, on the professional stage.

That’s the easy part. The hard work is in convincing audiences to view the work beyond the patronising rut of disability.

Which is why you are being invited to the Framing Gravity, which runs from 21 October – 5 November 2011.

We want you to come with an open mind, ready to be surprised, and come away with the knowledge, and understanding, that it is quite OK, to not fit into a box.

Related Links:

Framing Gravity: Exhibition

Accessible Arts

Saturday exhibition opening: Re-framing Disability

Re-framing disability: portraits from the Royal College of Physicians

There is no X-factor in patronising judgement