A photo a day – distortion and politics


I’m equivocal about mornings: I face some laborious chores required in my process of getting up. The dislike is compounded by my need to concentrate on what I am doing – so I can’t just do them through habit and move my mind to better things. I’d much rather be lying at a beach somewhere enjoying the sounds, sights and smells of the sea that at home suffering the sounds, sights and smells of me. It is just this sort of thing that I find drives my desire to make images and allows me to express myself in a way that helps me deal with life. Hopefully it also offers viewers a chance to see and think about things outside of their usual experience.

It seems to me that the representation of disabled people falls into two very broad camps: there is the victim/poor sod imagery with all of its associated values and then there is the supercrip imagery of disabled people achieving feats beyond most people’s abilities. Of course, both hold truths but also distort. I try to recognise and express both the – largely shitty reality – of having to manage my paralysis and recognise that the causes of the problem are both physiological – my impairment – and socially constructed – disabling. To ignore either distorts too much.

I had similar thoughts when reading about Exhibit B and The Barbican and the controversy surrounding it. It seems as though many Black people feel that it’s a good example of how they are both excluded from many areas of control and influence in the Established arts and purely exploited for the gain/amusement of White people. I think this is largely true and it’s also the case in regard of disabled people. That’s not to say we don’t have institutions and groups who support those areas of work. But these are often tiny outposts that allow the establishment to continue to do what it wants.

I don’t think such issues will ever be resolved because of the dynamic nature of life. Individuals and groups will always compete for recognition and it’s good to see people on the street campaigning about representation and inclusion. However it’s interesting that one group use art to make a political point and another use the street. 


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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