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: Still from 'Call Me By Your DWP Number' (2019) Babeworld x Whinegums. Image courtesy of the artist.

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

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Ellie Harman-Taylor, aka Whinegums, is a London-based artist, weaver, writer, and lecturer. Her practice navigates the experience of living with mental illness and disability. Ellie uses the metaphor of the body as a processing machine to explore how coping mechanisms can develop and aid survival in circumstances of marginalisation and suffering. Working with sculpture, video, performance, and comedy, Ellie’s work is frequently collaborative, including the lecture series, ‘Don’t Worry I’m Sick and Poor,’ which she co-created with Babeworld at the Royal College of Art, London.

About 'Call Me By Your DWP Number' (2019) which Whinegums contributed to The Future is Loading...

'Call Me By Your DWP Registration Number' (2019) is a collaboration between Babeworld and Whinegums. Visually referencing the classic coming of age movies of the 90s and 00s, this pink and dreamy world filled with objects (with the occasional tacky zoom-in) satirically romanticises the parts about living with a disability that are often vilified: using weed as a form of pain management and disability benefits as a form of employment. 

The work begins with the DWP automated message, stirring a sense of dread, much like hearing your alarm tone through someone else’s phone. Ellie is portrayed as the stereotypical lead, purposefully placed on screen as a statement of palatibility. As the holding music plays, Ellie recounts some personal thoughts. In turn, anchoring the situations and struggles of the “in-between.” In-between referrals, in-between waiting lists, and in-between treatments. 

The video in its final edits uses iMovie default transitions and glitter gifs to reimagine a classic movie aesthetic, delivering a more low-culture and low-resolution piece, which is intune with the artists’ lived experiences and working class background.

View all The Future Is Loading artist profiles