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.

Banner image: 'Harvesting' (2020) by Sasha Saben Callaghan. Image courtesy of the artist.


Affiliation with Shape: Sasha contributed to the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading.


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Sasha Saben Callaghan is an Edinburgh-based artist, writer, and disability rights campaigner. Her work employs collage techniques, iconographic imagery, and juxtaposition to unravel tensions and contradictions found within the politically-charged parameters of everyday life.

About 'Harvesting' (2020) which Sasha contributed to The Future is Loading...

One of the most horrible aspects of the pandemic has been the term ‘harvesting’ to describe the number of excess deaths. I wanted to reclaim the word and whilst the young man in this image may represent the ‘grim reaper’, the butterfly resting on the scythe he is holding symbolises immortality.

'Renewal' (2020) 

Like everyone else, Covid-19 has been uppermost in my thoughts for months and I wanted to show something positive emerging from it. I’ve used the image of this wee boy in my work several times – not just because I like it so much but because although he must have died decades ago, seeing him keeps his memory alive.

View all The Future Is Loading artist profiles