FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 14, 2012
WHAT CAN A BODY DO? AT HAVERFORD COLLEGE REFRAMES DISABILITY THROUGH THE WORK OF NINE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS
HAVERFORD, Pa.—It’s a seemingly simple question with a complex (and perhaps unknowable) answer: What can a body do? Bodies are responsible not only for the scores of vital involuntary actions that keep us breathing, digesting and functioning, but also for the surprising feats of endurance, speed or strength that continue to test the limits of human capabilities. (Just look at the accomplishments of the athletes at the recent Olympics, for example.) With every record a human breaks or new feat attempted we learn more about what our bodies can do, but still we haven’t begun to understand their full potential. This is even more true for the disabled body.
The exhibition What Can a Body Do?, which opens October 26 at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, explores the idea of disability through that very question. What can a disabled body do? What does it mean to inscribe a contemporary work of art with the experiences of disability? How can perceptions of the disabled body be liberated from classifications such as “normal” and “pathological” that so limit our thinking? Curated by Amanda Cachia, the show features the work of nine contemporary artists who invent and reframe disability across a range of media:
• Joseph Grigely, deaf since age 10, creates works that explore the failures, idiosyncrasies and ruptures of language and the dynamics of everyday communication. Three prints from his Songs Without Words, which visually represents sound via images of people singing that have been clipped from The New York Times, are included in this exhibition.
• Deaf performance artist Christine Sun Kim also explores sonic media without the benefit of hearing. At the show’s opening, she will participate in a sound performance, composed of field recordings of street sounds from the Haverford College campus.
• Park McArthur, who suffers from a degenerative neuromuscular disease, investigates the ways personal mobility is tied to social and political movements in her temporary sculpture, works on paper and short video pieces. Her video, It’s Sorta Like a Big Hug, is a record one of her friend’s experiences of being cared for by a collective of friends in her New York City neighborhood.
• Alison O’Daniel, a partially deaf artist who combines sculpture, “sound-baths,” painting, and film with live music or sign language accompaniment in her work, will give a two-night screening of her new film, Night Sky. The movie, which was made with a cast and crew half of whose members were deaf and half hearing, explores the friendship between two girls, one hearing and one deaf, and will be accompanied by a pre-recorded musical score and an American Sign Language interpreter.
• Carmen Papalia creates experiential social practice work, such as Blind Field Shuttle, a non-visual walking tour where participants tour urban and rural spaces on foot. In addition to leading a local version of his tour as part of this exhibit, Papalia has also produced a soundscape for the gallery of a two-day tour he led in Portland, Oregon—a non-visual documentation of his non-visual tour.
• Korean-American artist Laura Swanson explores her dwarfism by challenging cultural perceptions of size and scale in her work. What Can A Body Do? includes a new iteration of her installation TOGETHER together, which features paired objects of different size whose proportional juxtaposition prompts questions about how we see differences.
• Irish artist Corban Walker also plays with notions of human scale. Walker is four feet tall and creates sculpture stacks of industrial materials in direct proportion to his body using the “Corban Rule,” a calculation he devised that uses his own height as measure of his art. His TV Man, which also appears in the exhibit, is a life-size looped video replica of Walker standing inside the monitor of a flat-screen TV.
• Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi makes wearable art that addresses bodily and social experience and social stigma, influenced by members of her family (and herself) who were born with variable numbers of fingers and toes. Her Dermis Leather Footwear uses latex, cork, rubber and thread to map the memories of medical and surgical intervention.
• Polish artist Artur Zmijewski explores his long-standing interest in bodily difference through Oko za oko (An Eye for an Eye), a set of three large-format color photographs and a video that depict naked men with amputated limbs, accompanied by able-bodied people, who “lend” their limbs to the amputated as they stroll, climb stairs or bathe.
These artists offer new representations of the disabled body and, in doing so, expand our definitions of disability itself.
The opening reception for What Can a Body Do? will feature a performance by artist Christine Sun Kim and will take place Friday, October 26, 2012, from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery. A gallery talk by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Emory University professor of women’s studies and Greater Philadelphia Women's Studies Consortium scholar-in-residence will be held TKLOCATION on Friday, November 16, 2012 at TKTIME. Additionally, curator Cachia, Garland-Thomson, artist-in-residence Carmen Papalia, and artist and filmmaker Alison O'Daniel will host an informal conversation and exhibition viewing on Friday, November 16, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Blind Field Shuttle, a non-visual walking tour led for the public by Papalia, will take place Wednesday, November 14, 2012, from 4:30-6:00 p.m., TKLOCATION. Space for the immersive, experiential art event will be limited to 15 participants. Reserve a spot by emailing [email protected].
This exhibit is made possible with the support of the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support Liberal Arts Creative Residencies at the Tri-Colleges, Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore colleges.
Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 noon to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, campus exhibitions coordinator, at (610) 896-1287 or by emailing [email protected].
Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA, 19041