Durham Art Gallery: Comtemporary Canadian Art

Exhibition: Cripping Cyberspace

A Contemporary Online Art Exhibition

This online exhibition offers four diverse, newly commissioned projects focused on disability that utilizes the unique platform of cyberspace in which to distribute their work. In other words, cyberspace becomes the ideal performance space in which to enact their politico-culturally specific works for various reasons. The projects by Katherine Araniello (UK), Cassandra Hartblay (USA), Sara Hendren (USA) and Montreal's in/accessible collective (Canada) suggest that an online presence expands and equips their practices with new ethical and critical frameworks in which to funnel their ideas. Each working within specific cultural and political contexts, they all explore the limitations, possibilities and openings of social and physical architectures both real and imagined, and how cyberspace might come to offer an alternative. Their projects suggest that crip movement in cyberspace looks, feels and sounds different to the everyday social realities of their movement in real time that is often littered with barriers in an urban environment designed for the so-called average person. What are the alternative constraints or possibilities for disabled people in cyberspace, and what kinds of crip artistic interpretations can fill out these spaces in order to make new meaning?

Katherine Araniello has created SBC – Sick, Bitch, Crip. SBC is a guise and a persona that has a voice and an inflated personality. She is a super crip, one person; she has a blog; she has a presence on Facebook; she uploads films to YouTube. She demands to be visible, placing herself anywhere she can within the social media, digital images and short film. SBC's latest development is that she has now multiplied into three, Sick, Bitch and Crip. Araniello aims to create frameworks that challenge and alter preconceptions. This is done through subversive humour and presenting disability in fresh discourses. Araniello's strategic insistence on using cyberspace as a critical and visible stage for showcasing her SBC persona and disability politics takes advantage of its pervasive hold and effect on mainstream society. What are some of the outcomes of her inescapable online presence for disability politics and how might Araniello's access and mobility evolve through such repeated online exchange?

Calling herself an ethnographer of disability experience, Cassandra Hartblay has contributed Do You like this Installation?, an interactive art project that has both online and material interfaces. It is composed of three components: (1) a material installation in a gallery space, (2) an interactive online interface and (3) data analysis. The project grows out of 11 months of fieldwork regarding social inclusion and disability in the city of Petrozavodsk in northwestern Russia, particularly as manifested in a disabled person's uneven access to the internet and voting. Her installation aims to chart how people might navigate or redesign physical and virtual terrain through the voting process, and how they manipulate various access tools in order to get them from point A to B. What might these interactions tell us about disabled and non-disabled habits of exchange, mobility and access within the physical and virtual world?

Montreal in/accessible collective has contributed five video capsules that document disabling barriers in five different public spaces in Montréal. Each video capsule is the result of collaboration between video artists with and without disabilities and a disabled person who chooses a public space where he/she faces physical barriers. The video capsules lift the veil on ableism – a system of oppression that remains largely ignored in Montréal. This action research project enables disabled people to become media makers and to tell their stories. Their stories provide emotional, intellectual and sensorial support for disabled people and challenge the way in which disability is portrayed in popular media and traditional forms of representation. The series Exposing disabling barriers in Montréal aims to create new possibilities for disabled people to challenge ableism in a space that continues to be under-explored by Montréal disabled people community – cyberspace.

Sara Hendren will create a sound file where she will be mixing together her own descriptions with soundcloud files and youtube clips, about the ramp in its many forms, based on her website, "Slope Intercept."

Modes of conventional sensorial access that are occasionally found in a museum setting, such as audio description, audio transcripts or captions are offered in this online exhibition, where they will not only continue to function as dynamic modes of interpretation and communication, but they also become independent works of art in themselves, which carry their own weight and space in this virtual crip architecture.

The exhibition will be presented online by the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

About the Curator:

Amanda Cachia is an independent curator from Sydney, Australia and is currently completing her PhD in Art History, Theory & Criticism at the University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation will focus on the intersection of disability and contemporary art. She held the position Director/Curator of the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada from 2007-2010, and has curated approximately 30 exhibitions over the last ten years in various cities across the USA, England, Australia and Canada. Cripping Cyberspace: A Contemporary Virtual Art Exhibition will be her first online curatorial project.



Real or Perceived

Sept. 7 - Nov. 3
Opening: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2-4
Durham Art Gallery

Altered Images

Sept. 7 - Nov. 3
Opening: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2-4
Durham Art Gallery

Resident Artists

Sept. 27 - Nov. 3
Opening: Friday, Sept. 27, 7-8
Durham Art Gallery

Cripping Cyberspace

Sept. 27 - Dec. 20
Opening: Friday, Sept. 27
Canadian Journal of Disability Studies (online)

Curiosity House

Sept. 6 - Oct. 3
Opening: Friday, Sept. 6, 5-7
Curiosity House Books and Art (Creemore)