The Future is Loading

Listen to this text: 

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.

This list of resources is part of The Future is Loading exhibition. You can view the exhibition on our Instagram and on our website. You can also find an audio described version here. 

The future is loading. Now is the time for action.

In putting this exhibition together, and arising from conversations with the artists about driving positive change in cultural spaces and wider society, we have compiled some links and resources. As these links are to third party content we acknowledge that they may not be accessible to all audiences, but we hope they prove useful to many and maintain the ethos of the exhibition and support its vision for change beyond the show.

Access Docs for Artists  

An Accessibility Manifesto for the Arts by Carmen Papalia

Awkwoods: Daniel Oliver’s dyspraxic adventures in participatory performance by Daniel Oliver

BSL Zone: Black Lives Matter

Care Work: Dreaming disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Chronic Pain Zine

Crippled: Austerity and the Demonisation of Disabled People by Frances Ryan 

Disability Studies: A student’s guide edited by Colin Cameron

Disability Visibility by Alice Wong

Dolly Sen and Caroline Cardus’ Section 136: A radical mental health art action programme

Drawn Poorly Zine

Easy Read: George Floyd and Black Lives Matter by Jade French

Easy Read: Social Model of Disability by Shape Arts

Feminist Healthcare Research Group and their Instagram 

Feminism Interrupted by Lola Olufemi

Feminist Queer Crip by Alison Kafer

How To Survive The End of the World podcast with Adrienne Maree Brown and Autumn Brown

How We Became Posthuman: Virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics by N. Katherine Hayles


Medical Apartheid and the need to centre Black disability justice talk by Walela Nehanda

Medical Apartheid isn’t some far off myth: I’m Black and I almost died at White Memorial Hospital by Walela Nehanda

Not Going Back to Normal: A Disabled Artists Manifesto

Outside Mental Health: Voices and visions of madness by Will Hall

Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries report from Arts Emergency

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by Adrienne Maree Brown 

Practicing Conflict (audio resource) by Jeff Kasper

Shy Radicals: The antisystemic politics of the militant introvert by Hamja Ahsan 

Sick Woman Theory by Johanna Hedva

Scoring Care (audio resource) by Jeff Kasper

Study Room Guide on Neurodiversity with Daniel Oliver (podcast)

Surviving Art School: An artist of colour toolkit by Rudy Loewe

The Critical Fish: artist-led writing about arts and culture

The Limping Chicken: The world’s most popular Deaf blog

The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino

The War on Disabled People: Capitalism, Welfare and the Making of a Human Catastrophe by Ellen Clifford 

Understanding Media: The extensions of man by Marshall McLuhan

Why Iranian women are wearing white on Wednesdays by Nassim Hatam

Working Class Resources from the Working Class Artists Database

Xenofeminism: A politics for alienation by Laboria Cuboniks

You can read more in-depth discussion of these resources and the themes of this year's Shape Open written by our artists, too:

Brothers Sick (Ezra and Noah Benus) - Illness finds us all 

Panteha Abareshi - The Derelict Body: A Xenocrip Reader