The Future is Loading

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View the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading exhibition, featuring the work of 25 marginalised artists! 

"2020 has been a paradigm shift for many, a year like no other. A time of raw hardship and sudden turmoil in the midst of which we have witnessed gestures of care and support capable of reminding us: we need each other. 

For many disabled and marginalised people, familiar with adversity, witnessing the world come to a halt in a matter of days has paradoxically generated hope. Hope that, for once, the world might take greater heed of what it means to be shut away, impoverished and excluded. 

For people who are marginalised in the present day, facing discrimination and barriers to access, imagining the future can be an act of radical defiance.

As the crisis has evolved and its shockwaves travelled, we find it acting as a catalyst for many other significant conversations, in the home, the workplace, or whilst, in the case of the Black Lives Matter movement, taking to the streets in an assertion of grief and outrage. In this time of reflection and learning, a plurality of realisations has occurred. With this, widespread unrest and demands for change have arisen.

More than our lives, entire structures have been thrown into the air by what we are living though, revealing the outlines of a starkly unequal world. In the process, a pandemic of health has radicalised mainstream debate, and we are no longer shying away from discussing the pre-existing pandemics of racism, of gender discrimination, barriers to inclusion and advancement, of gaping inequality, isolation, and disenfranchisement. The list goes on.

Set against this uncertain and restless backdrop, where risk of greater exclusion battles with unique opportunities for change, we at Shape are looking to the future as an act of hope.

For people who are marginalised in the present day, facing discrimination and barriers to access, imagining the future can be an act of radical defiance. It is the act of making a claim to a space that is otherwise denied ­– and for once, marginalised people have the agency to place themselves at its centre."


The Shape Open is our annual exhibition of artwork by disabled and non-disabled artists created in response to a disability-centred theme. The Open provides a space where disabled and non-disabled artists can discuss and exchange views and ideas about issues and topics which are often sidelined within artistic debate.

The Future is Loading / Shape Open 2020

Curated and creatively produced by Shape Arts 


Arts Council England logo.

Affiliation with Shape: Shortlisted for the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary 2019 and one of the three artists participating in Shape's Tate Exchange programme for 2019.  Also one of the artists in The Future Is Loading exhibition (Shape Open 2020)


Romily Alice Walden is a transdisciplinary artist whose work centres a queer, disabled perspective on the fragility of the body. Their practice spans sculpture, installation, video, curation and printed matter, all of which is undertaken with a socially engaged and research-led working methodology. Recent work has shown at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art: Newcastle, Hebbel Am Ufer: Berlin, SOHO20: New York and Tate Exchange: Tate Modern: London. In 2019 Walden was a Shandaken Storm King resident, and will be resident at Wysing Arts Centre in 2020. They work both individually and collectively as a member of Sickness Affinity Group; a group of sick, disabled and care-giving art workers and activists who work on the topic of sickness/disability, care and labour conditions. Since 2019, Walden has been a fellow of the UdK Graduate School and Berlin Centre for Advanced Studies in Art and Science.
  1. Romily Alice Walden’s work is concerned with physicality and its interplay with other social categorisations and power differentials.
  2. At the core of their practice is an interrogation of embodiment under late stage capitalism.
  3. Walden’s work questions contemporary western society's relationship with care, tenderness and fragility in relation to our bodies, our communities and our ecosystem.
  4. Romily is interested in the ability (and failure) to navigate physicality, interdependency and vulnerability both communally and individually. 
  5. How can access remain generative? What are the limits of translation? What can we find in the edges and boundary layers of ability and somatic experience?
  6. The vulnerability of the body has served as a focus for Walden’s practice since 2017; recent work seeks to disturb overly simplistic understandings of the disabled body, looking to bring an ethic of care, a connection between the land and the body, and a cripped concept of performance into conversation with their work.
  7. Their practice spans installation, printed matter, performance, video and coded arduino control systems, all of which is undertaken with a socially-engaged and research-led working methodology.

About 'Notes from the Underlands' (2019) which Romily contributed to The Future is Loading...

Notes From The Underlands is a performative text from the depths of queer disability culture. It is both a future-orientated vision of a sick, disabled, and care-giving Utopia and an urgent call to action in the now. The text is performed through video, audio, large-scale print, and subtitles; challenging the notion that the body must be physically present (and abled) in order to perform.


View all The Future Is Loading artist profiles

Banner Image: My Body Is The House That I Live In: work in progress. Romily Alice Walden

Body Text Image: Utopias (IRL//URL) Pictured at FBA Futures, Mall Galleries, London, January 2018. Image Hannah Burton