Performing Crip Time: Bodies in Deliberate Motion

Exhibition Run: June 27-July 19

Opening Reception: 7-10PM, June 27

Gallery Hours: 11-4PM, Wednesday-Saturday

Curated by Amanda Cachia

This exhibition includes the work of 7 female contemporary artists, who perform their complex embodiment through their vantage point of crip time. How might a disability perspective bring new understandings of temporality through mobility across various public spaces? Inspired by Alison Kafer’s new book, Feminist, Queer, Crip (2013), how might crip time become a powerful resistant orientation for the disabled subject, that yields productive insights into alternative constructs about the cultural rationality of time? Through the performance-based work of artists Liz Crow, Arseli Dokumaci, Helen Dowling, Heidi Kayser, Noëmi Lakmaier, Laurence Parent and Sunaura Taylor, we come to understand crip time as not only a slower speed of movement, but also a re-orientation to time and bodies that might offer a new methodology for thinking about alternative futures for the disabled subject. In other words, how can crip time become a way of life and how can slow motion become a deliberate, politicized act? The exhibition includes videos, drawing, sculpture and mixed media installations that present the comingling of crip time, intersectional identity, the senses, language, interpretation and access.


In 2013, British artist-activist Liz Crow staged a live 48-hour performance/protest called Bedding Out where she acted out her “bed life” with the public. How is time in bed spent differently by a disabled person? How can stillness be a form of activism for disability? Through this durational activity, and by sharing what is ordinarily a private aspect of her life as a woman in a wheelchair, Crow was hoping to make the public more aware of the invisible aspects of being a disabled person. For Crow, “bedding out” was a way of “speaking out.” Throughout the 48-hour period, Crow staged five scheduled “bedside conversations” in order to talk about the change in benefits for disabled people in the UK that occurred the same week as her performance.


In Arseli Dokumacı’s PhD project entitled “Misfires that matter: Invisible disabilities and performances of the everyday,” she investigates everyday practices in relation to mobility-related pain and impairments and created a two-hour ethnographic documentary on the everyday lives of people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). An abbreviated version of this documentary, entitled "Taskscapes" (Tim Ingold, 2000) is included in this exhibition. Mundane tasks, which are almost automatically performed when in good health, require effort and planning when pain accompanies movement. Therefore people with RA tend to create new techniques of executing quotidian tasks. These improvisations, which remain invisible in the flow of daily life, are rendered visible in these videos as emerging “taskscapes.”


In the video, Breaker, the man with the disability is Dowling’s older brother, John. He has cerebral palsy. The other man is a local breakdancer.  The artist asked them to attempt to copy each other’s physicality through a series of movements or exercises. Essentially, John copied the breakdancing and the breakdancer copied the disability, or copied the “crip time.” The artist wanted the resulting footage to blur the lines of what should and can be copied, learnt and taught. Mimicking another person also carries references to both flattery and cruel behavior, which John has had to endure all too frequently. Dowling wanted to turn the act of copying someone who is disabled into an act that is challenging and something that within this video is admired instead of evoking scorn or, sometimes even more harmful, pity.


Slippage is the extension of an original collaboration between Heidi Kayser and Yelena Gluzman. This short video explores the relationship the stenograph has with the stenographer’s body, as a tool for access, communication and translation. It is a compilation of the original footage of Heidi’s filming of an anonymous stenographer during an interview, in addition to two different YouTube clips Yelena had sourced. Heidi’s creative editing of the three image sources meant that the final outcome of the video was a very rapid succession of inter-changing images, as if the screen was a collage. What is to be gained from the slippages, gaps and distractions in one mode of communication to another in this important mode of crip time? This work is accompanied by documentation that reveals audio description as a complex process, including the script and instructions.

ABOUT Noëmi LAKMAIER        

In the documentation of the living intervention/performance, One Morning in May (2012) by Hydar Dewachi, on the 28th of May 2012, Noëmi Lakmaier set out from Toynbee Studios in Tower Hamlets towards the City of London, hoping to reach one one of London’s most iconic buildings the ‘Gherkin’. This normally easy 1 mile stroll was a slow and exhausting test of endurance, as she did it on her hands and knees. Smartly dressed in business attire she crawled through the everyday street life of London, her clothes getting increasingly dirty and torn. After 7 hours she crossed the border from the Borough of Tower Hamlets to the City of London.


In Canadian artist Laurence Parent’s video, entitled Cripping the Landscape 1: Québec City, (May 23, 2013), the artist has used a “herocam” to chart her thirty-five minute journey on foot from the University of Laval to the train station in Québec City, which was a distance of five kilometers, told from the temporal point of view of her wheelchair. In this intimate narrative, Parent exposes the dangers, barriers and inaccessible points encountered throughout her journey, but also attempts to provide a unique temporal and phenomenological view of urban space through the lens of wheelchair embodiment.


For this exhibition, Taylor has contributed typing sticks that she uses for painting with her mouth. She goes through these sticks that she makes from wood and plastic every 1-2 months, before they get chewed and destroyed. They are physical debris left over from writing her thoughts down and also act as symbols of Taylor’s personal crip time. The artist has developed a series of watercolor self-portraits, where her corpus has been replaced with versions of her personal wheelchairs that she has owned since she was six years old. She has had 7 main chairs and 3 or 4 alternates. Taylor’s portraiture of wheelchairs not only documents crip time through the physicality of an object as an extension of her embodiment and identity as a disabled person, but these artworks also offer crip time through a historical and nostalgic lens.


Dokumaci image for postcard copy

Arseli Dokumaci, "Taskscapes," (Tim Ingold, 2000) 2013, video still

This activity was sponsored by California Arts Council and National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California Los Angeles.