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 

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Latest Shape collaboration: Yasmeen contributed to the Open All Hours, Shape Open 2023 and In The Mirror, Shape Open 2022. She also presented work in the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading.

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Artist Statement: Yasmeen Thantrey is a London-based artist whose practice explores cultural identity, stereotypes, and problems she has encountered growing up as a South Asian in the UK. Consciously embedding her identity and perspective into her work, Yasmeen further challenges feminist notions of body hair and diet culture through the eyes of a brown girl, using photography, print, performance, film, installations, and soft sculptures.

Central to her practice - which is innately socio-political and, therefore, community-focused - is collaboration. Through meaningful creative exchange, Yasmeen’s work navigates both art activism and performance, acknowledging the centrality of the audience’s response and gaze to the narrative being unravelled. She aims to play and dismantle power structures through humorous loaded work that purposefully interrupts a white cube and institutional environment.

A photograph  taken from the back of a brown brick house. Looking up at a window. From the window white, sheer fabric hangs. On it is a printed figure. The figure wears an impossibly long black figure hugging dress, which stretches down past where th

About 'Break the Internet' (2020), which Yasmeen contributed to The Future is Loading...

A print of the artist dressed as Kim Kardashian West- recreating the magazine cover that 'broke the internet'. By hanging this work from a window, it aims to disrupt the natural flow of society, and thus, demand space in a world that oppresses fat women of colour.

Been having chats about the Kim Kardashian shoot and its obvious parallels to Saartjie Baartman’s depiction in historical documents. Obviously, as a woman with a large bottom and thighs which are overtly sexualised and fetishised by men, particularly white men, this piece was a comment on that, and aimed to reclaim my fat body from this commentary. My research into Saartjie lead me to focus on the treatment and fetishising of women of colour, specifically fat women of colour, and I neglected the direct connection to slavery that this treatment stemmed from. As a POC with known South Asian heritage through Kenya, I have no known connection to slavery and my ancestors did not experience the brutal and inhuman treatment that Black communities and women like Saartje did. I will be retiring this piece now, and if any fat Black artists would like to adopt it, I would be so happy to help facilitate this!“

Check out Yasmeen's website   See all the artists we work with

Banner Image: Courtesy of the artist. 'Break the Internet' (2020).