The Future is LoadingListen to this text: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file 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 About the Exhibition Content Notes and Access The Exhibition Artist Profiles Exhibition Zine Resources Shape Open The Future is Loading (Part II) Welcome to The Future is Loading... Before viewing this exhibition, you may want to read our Trigger Warnings and Access information. You can read a full exhibition blurb, too, where you will learn more about the curation of the show. You can also view this exhibition on our Instagram. All works in this show have been audio described. You can find these descriptions alongside each work. Where possible, British Sign Language support has also been embedded. Together with Able Zine, we are designing a zine for this exhibition which is available for pre-order. This zine includes a collaborative resources list, full of a variety of materials gathered by the curators and contributors during the production of this show. You can also purchase campaign t-shirts through PrintSocial. You can use this interactive list of contributors to navigate the exhibition. Audio described artist biographies can be found on individual artist profiles on our site. If you would like more information, please email [email protected] Andrew Omoding Arts Emergency Babeworld x Whinegums Bobby Parker Brothers Sick (Ezra and Noah Benus) Charlie J. Meyers Christopher Samuel Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley Elise Broadway Hayden Stern Jeff Kasper Kirkwood Brothers Laura Lulika Maral Mamaghani Panteha Abareshi Romily Alice Walden Rudy Loewe Sasha Saben Callaghan Sam Jevon Seren Metcalfe Tobi Adebajo Yasmeen Thantrey Kirkwood Brothers The Kirkwood Brothers, Jonny and Jordon, are Glasgow-based artists whose work often revolves around neurodiversity and mental health in an effort to dispel related stereotypes. Working collaboratively as brothers, Jonny and Jordon create art through conversation, re-capturing the popular culture from their childhood. Humour is a central vehicle to their practice, affording both brothers agency over their own experiences. Everything is wrong (2020) Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Much of the content of Jonny and Jordon’s work is still taboo among communities in Glasgow: disability, mental health, suicide. Though their work might at first appear naive, it performs as a vehicle for conversations about these topics unravel. Future (2020) Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Jonny and Jordon prefer to let their work speak for itself, avoiding the pitfalls artists often face when trying to explain their work in written language. They believe this often makes their work feel more relatable and accessible and affords the audience an intimate and individual relationship with their art. Nothing is Right (2020) Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Back to top. Laura Lulika Laura Lulika is a crip (sick+disabled) artist and researcher. Working predominantly with video, sound and performance, their practice explores themes of care, sexuality, labour, sickness and performativity in the everyday. Their work is driven by the rhythms, movement, and rituals within daily activity. Looking at accessibility from various perspectives, Lulika attempts to work outside of common capitalist artworld structures in liminal spaces that are not controlled by structures of oppression. Lulika has worked with many community groups including senior-citizen dancers, people with learning disabilities and urban beekeepers. Collaboration is key to their practice. They strive to work in interdependent formats which reflect their care needs and the care needs of everyone involved. Lulika is an initiating member of Sickness Affinity Group which has been active for three years. SAG is a collection of artists, researchers and health practitioners, working with the topics of art, health and accessibility. They function as a support group and working group that challenges the competitive and ableist mode of working in the arts by sharing experiences and information and by prioritizing the well-being and access needs of its group members. An Ode to Marge Simpson (or how I taught myself to speak again by watching the Real Housewives) (2018) Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file An autobiographical work which deals with voice-loss due to chronic illness. After losing their voice for over a year due to a combination of health issues, Laura received vocal therapy. However, they found that watching The Real Housewives while housebound is what really helped them regain their voice and agency. The work celebrates The Real Housewives franchises as a rare example in popular culture where women's voices are prioritised, while at the same time questioning the privilege these women hold and therefore the healthcare they have access to in comparison to many of the viewers. It draws on GIF reaction culture and the thriving online crip community and features questions the artist was asked by their vocal therapist. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Back to top. Maral Mamaghani Maral Mamaghani graduated with an MA from the School of Jewellery and Silversmithing from Birmingham City University in 2017. During her time at BCU, Maral created work that drew on her experience with feminism, oppression, and the forced wearing of the hijab [veil] in Iran as a Deaf Iranian woman. Leaving Iran and studying in the UK gave Maral a new perspective on the issues surrounding women’s rights. She began to use human hair as a material within her work, the hair representing the long-term political struggle that exists in Iran. BSL Interpreted: Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Tale of Tresses Drawing on her own roots as an Iranian woman, and her interest in feminism, Maral explored the issue of the hijab [veil]. As a woman in Iran, you are not allowed to uncover your hair or talk about feminism or sexuality as these are ‘forbidden matters.’ Looking at this problem from outside, Maral discovered that hair, as a material, could represent the long-term political struggle that existed in Iran. Maral explored this conceptually by creating a series of brooches with her own and other friends’ hair. The brooch symbolizes their own individual characters and personality coming together, and the stories that they, as women, reflect upon. Moreover, the shape of the coconut shell resembles women’s breasts. This provokes discomfort for many Iranians, preventing some from willingly wearing the brooch Dorsa “She is into warm tones and the mysterious and primitive shapes from ancient human drawings. I tried to weave her hair into the wood, in her favourite shape – the triangle. I did this in the traditional way that people made baskets. The triangle is upside down, representing the shape of the womb, to show her femininity." Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Samin “She is outward, warm-hearted, and sympathetic; however, she is broken inside and tries to hide her sadness by always bringing joy and giving confidence to everyone. I made her brooch like a bridge. She always wants to connect with people and is keen to help; she is flexible and communicates well with everyone.” Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Hasti “She is thoughtful but, on the other hand, she has a silly side. I wanted to show the two parts of her character. She thinks before saying anything, which is represented by the top of the piece. The shape of the natural, curved hair, free of limits, shows how crazy she can be.” Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Back to top. Panteha Arabeshi Panteha Abareshi is an artist based in Los Angeles, California. Panteha’s practice is rooted in their existence living with sickle cell zero beta thalassemia - a genetic blood disorder that causes debilitating pain. The coalescence of Panteha’s identity means she is fully immersed in ‘Otherness,’ by her own definition. Through her work, Panteha pushes back against the lack of representation endemic in the arts and is able to discuss the complexities of living within a body that is highly monitored, constantly examined, and made to feel like a specimen. Taking images of recongisable human forms and reducing them to gestural shapes, Panteha juxtaposes her own body’s objectification and dissection. For Parts (2020) Panteha created this VHS video work during quarantine using footage from a performance earlier in the year. The video contemplates the emotional and bodily changes that occur as a result of receiving medical implants and prosthetics. By exploring her own body as inorganic, Panteha outlines the ways in which non-disabled standards of performance, of appearance, and behaviour dictate what we consider “human” and what we consider “subhuman.” Tracing her experience, Panteha exposes the consequences of this systemic segregation in which the disabled and sick experience is ostracised. The performance and audio, recorded during a hospital visit, force the audience to reckon with the binary between body and machine, organic and inorganic; is that a heartbeat or a machine? In unpicking this liminal space, Panteha is further making a claim about her own lived experience. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Again (2020) Part of a series of 2D works created while bed-bound during quarantine. ‘Again’ documents Panteha’s experience with disability as non-linear and frustrating; accepting the perpetual state of reckoning she lives in as her body deteriorates. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Not better yet (2019) Shot on Super 8 and VHS film. This performance cuts between audio of doctors and nurses recorded during a hospital stay and clips of Panteha contorting her own body in painful, performative ways. The audio documents the disrespect, disregard, and lack of understanding Panteha experienced; the feeling of being both emotionally and physically unsafe. It sits in direct contrast to Panteha’s own performance which, though painful, demonstrates self-control and agency, making all the more stark the powerlessness engendered by “mainstream” medicine and healthcare. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Back to top. Romily Alice Walden 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. 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. Notes From the Underlands (2018) BSL Interpreted: Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file 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. Back to top. Rudy Loewe Rudy Loewe is a visual artist and arts educator whose work focuses on themes of gender, sexuality, black histories, and colonialism. Using firsthand experiences, interviews, and archival material, their work uplifts voices that are rarely given a platform. Rudy is concerned with questions such as: who are the authors of history? Whose narratives are seen as objective? How do we preserve our own legacies? Rudy works with painting, drawing, printmaking, and self-publishing, often utilising formats that provide greater accessibility to make their work easily disseminated. Their approach to text in their work references Jamaican sign painting, protest placards, and banners. This can be seen in We Been Here, which uses bright colours and hand drawn lettering to speak to the Afro-Carribean diaspora and the histories of Black resistance in the UK. Having organised in activist and community spaces over the last decade, Rudy is motivated by the potential for art as an activist tool. They see their artistic practice as a way of engaging people in critical themes, raising awareness of issues and creating community space. We Been Here (2019) Image credit: Jessica Wittman This large scale painting points to moments of resistance in recent black history in the UK. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file It highlights the black women who have been at the forefront of anti-racist protests, dating back to the Caribbean women who came as nurses during the Windrush generation. Black women who protested after the murder of Kelsey Cochrane; who marched after the New Cross fire; and who continue to fight against racist borders and deportations. The women continue out of the frame as they continue to fight. Back to top. Sam Jevon Sam Jevon, based in London, began creating work at Submit to Love Studios in 2009. A mum of two, she began attending three years after sustaining a brain injury in a car accident, which affected her speech, dexterity, eyesight, and balance. A self-taught artist, Sam is well known for her detailed line drawings and unique illustration style. Buildings, people, and animals become curiously crooked and contorted under her guidance. The self-described ‘Queen of Wonky,’ Sam will tell you how she could only draw matchstick people before her brain injury. Her work now is intensely detailed, with an inimitable style that makes it instantly recognisable. In Charge (2020) 'In Charge' is Sam's first embroidery work, inspired by the 1996 photograph 'Effnik' by Yinka Shonibare CBE from the Autograph archive, originally commissioned by Autograph. Yinka is the Shape Open Patron, so we are proud to be continuing a conversation initiated by him over twenty years ago; a conversation about colonialism, racism, and inequality. In inserting into the visual canon a disruptive and subversive iconography, Yinka aimed to critique and satirise the photograph's context. The work was created in a project-based collaboration between Submit to Love Studios and Autograph gallery, 'Common Threads,' which you can view online. Artists from Submit to Love Studios were invited to recreate in textiles photographs from Autograph's archive. Shape works closely with both Autograph and Headway East London, who run Submit to Love Studios, so Sam's work really symbolises more than her own practice. It threads together (pun intended) the work of these impressive and important organisations, with whom we are proud to work! Right: Yinka Shonibare, Effnik, 1997. Commissioned by Autograph. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file About Submit to Love Studios Submit to Love Studios is home to a collective of self-taught artists. These artists have developed a set of unique practices and interests, refined over more than a decade. All of the artists have survived brain injuries - some use this to inform their work, whilst others take inspiration from the world around them. The studio is based at Headway East London, a charity supporting survivors of brain injury. Back to top. Sasha Saben Callaghan 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. Harvesting (2020) 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. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file 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. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Back to top. Seren Metcalfe Seren Metcalfe is a Yorkshire-born but London-based multi-disciplinary artist and writer. Her research spans the themes of time, labour, energy, routine, and structure. Interested in the ways the body navigates space, Seren frequently mobilises parallels between cityscapes and landscapes or the Natural and the Mechanical in her work. Further exploring fame, television, consumerism, and class, Seren weaves her own memories into her work, creating her own language with which to speak about personal experience. Seren is the Founder of the Working Class Creatives Database, working to counteract the absence of people from working class backgrounds in the arts through platforming, collaboration, and resource sharing. The Go Fuck Yourself Choir (2019) Lit up by smartphone torches, a Choir of voices repeat the words 'Go Fuck Yourself'. Audio description: Your browser does not support the audio element. Please click here to download the file Guided by thorough research in much of her work, the Go Fuck Yourself Choir is the embodiment of Seren’s otherwise suppressed urge to react and respond to her immediate surroundings. Although initially envisioned as a formal choral piece, Seren’s choice to use volunteers and instruct them herself ultimately enriches the sentiment of the piece, which is not bashful in its commentary on tone policing and resource accessibility within the arts. Back to top. Continue the exhibition. If you enjoyed The Future is Loading, why not follow us on Instagram and Twitter? We also welcome responses to our exhibition survey - we would love to know what you think! Back to top.