The exhibition will present works from over fifteen artists, exploring themes of loss, vulnerability, survivability, connection and support for those deemed disposable
NEW YORK, NY - The Ford Foundation Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning, an exhibition running from October 1 - December 10, 2022. The gallery will host an opening reception with the artists on Friday, September 30 from 6-8 p.m. and viewing hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the gallery space at 320 E 43rd St, New York, NY.
Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning is the follow-up to Indisposable: Structures of Support after the Americans with Disabilities Act, a three-year collaboration with more than thirty artists and scholars that emerged as eight online chapters each addressing the urgent questions of the moment where COVID-19 pandemic and demands for racial justice laid bare that some lives – especially disabled; queer; Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); and immigrant – are deemed disposable. These chapters serve as a unique archive of the ways in which artists and scholars responded to the intertwined histories of ableism and racism, delving into the profound questions of what makes our lives livable? How do we afford our own existence and what happens when we cannot? Who creates the means by which we survive; or, were we ever meant to survive? Where are we seen as disposable, and why?
Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning extends these conversations and questions by focusing on two topics critical to all eight chapters: care and mourning. The artists of Indisposable address the difficult work of not just how to care and to mourn for those deemed disposable but how to activate that work into tactics for insisting on our indisposability.
Exhibiting artists include: Indira Allegra, Black Power Naps (Navild Acosta + Fannie Sosa), Kevin Quiles Bonilla, Jill Casid, Francisco echo Eraso, fierce pussy, Allison Leigh Holt, Raisa Kabir, Riva Lehrer, Alex Dolores Salerno, Sami Schalk, Pamela Sneed, What Would an HIV Doula Do?, and Kiyan Williams. These artists are committed to resisting the oppressive ideologies of bodily productivity and “normalcy” that have been used as markers of human worth. Their work offers audiences the chance to consider new tactics for care and mourning, activist strategies emerging from within and uplifting communities living in precarity.
About the exhibiting artists:
Viewers will be able to interact with Indira Allegra’s installation TEXERE: The Shape of Loss is a Tapestry, through which they can name and submit losses they have experienced during pandemic, which are then interwoven into a digital tapestry with similar contributions from others. Allegra’s project allows us to confront the question: how can we begin to mourn the many, many losses of the pandemic? In creating a visible, accessible point of intersection, Allegra deploys the centuries-old art of weaving in the digital space to remind us that the shape of loss – our intertwined stories of it – is a tapestry. TEXERE: The Shape of Loss is a Tapestry moves mourning from the solitary to the collective and in so doing, creates what Allegra terms “global grief equity.”
The collective Black Power Naps (Navild Acosta + Fannie Sosa) is contributing a sculptural installation, Chill Pill, on which viewers can rest and relax in the gallery. The rocking motion, soft fabrics, soothing colors, rounded shape, and plush space for rest are all meant to soothe, but also pointedly ask: how can the reclamation of rest as a critical form of care be an anti-racist tactic to resist ableist institutional structures? How has the denial of rest been a method for ongoing oppression?
Kevin Quiles Bonilla’s Carryover (Blue Tarp in Vega Alta) is a powerful photograph merging the body of the queer-crip artist with the detritus left behind in the wake of Hurricane Maria, evoked by a blue plastic tarp. What, Bonilla asks us, are we doing with the piles of ruins left in Puerto Rico – and elsewhere – in the wake of the disasters caused by climate change? How does the lack of substantial response to the climate crises pile danger upon danger, indignity upon indignity, further carrying over colonial oppression onto the bodies of those in the storm’s path?
In their works for the exhibition, Jill Casid embraces a wild melancholy as a crip-queer tactic of refusing to move on and into the imposed new post-pandemic normal. Casid’s film Untitled (Throw Out) and installation Spirochetes of Contact work with the throw-away beauty and material fragility of the Polaroid and the short throw length of projection to take us close to the island sites of the abjected and cast off that also returns in the form of the promise and risk of the intimacies of contact to demand the supports for our thriving as we must learn to live with more than one virus, more than one pathogen in ways that refuse to make crip, trans, refugee, and racialized life disposable.
The artist collective fierce pussy offers us a transmission from a future utopia where the current horrors of oppression that continue on our dying planet are confusing, unknown, and curious. In Transmission VI (2022) there are a new set of concerns that the voice cannot comprehend about violence, inequality, and cruelty. Transmission VI will be printed and available for gallery visitors to take with them.
How does neurodiversity function as a way of knowing in the world? Allison Leigh Holt’s sculptural installation A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space refracts light through glass orbs, water, and organic matter to suggest the feedback loops that exist between living things – connections to which neurodiversity can introduce us – as models of care. It likewise reshapes perception as a means of asking: How can upending colonial conventions of time, space, and the acquisition of knowledge create a more just and caring world for all people?
What do we do when, as Raisa Kabir’s eponymous sculpture NO PROTECTION reminds us, we cannot look to the world around us for care and safety? The accompanying sculpture from Kabir’s House Made of Tin (a socially distanced weaving performance) offers one answer as it evokes queer-crip networks of mutual aid. Created in the fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns in London, the sculpture reminds us that mutual aid has always already existed in crip, queer, and BIPOC communities as a strategy for survival. The tension in the sculpture evokes bonds created that day that are figurative, literal, and ongoing; these bonds reflect lessons the crip community has always had to offer others about how to joyfully connect, support, and survive.
Riva Lehrer’s Zoom Portraits: Alice Wong and The Risk Pictures: Sharrona Pearl illustrate the paradox of care during a pandemic. For Lehrer, a portraitist, the virus stole from her the intimacy of collaborating with the subjects who posed in her studio. The Zoom portraits portray the imperfect, but deeply necessary, ways she adapted her work as a protection for herself and others. Indeed, the triptych pictured in The Risk Pictures: Sharrona Pearl connects that protection to the PPE frontline medical workers wore as they tended to the sick and vulnerable.
Francisco echo Eraso + Alex Dolores Salerno collaborated on the sculpture Regalos, in which gifts of hair are tied with handspun golden thread. The tufts mark remainders of haircuts lovingly preserved. Similarly, the sculpture by Salerno entitled EXTRAHERE marks time; coffee beans are strung along a red thread, evoking a meditation on crip time through the repetitive practice. Coffee, normally extracted from formerly colonized lands, now eschews utilitarian normalcy and is repurposed to evoke rest rather than the labor of harvesting and exporting it. Finally, Salerno’s new film Arranged with Care is a tender collaboration with their mother who offers a tutorial on different kinds of ingredients that can constitute horchata. This film offers a space to contemplate the pivotal role of familial bonds and storytelling between colonized peoples as a way to care for each other.
Sami Schalk’s #QuarantineLooks: Embracing the Fabulously Mundane and her boudoir series Becoming a Pleasure Artist: Pleasure is the Point insist on joyful visibility for her fat, Black, queer, femme body that challenges what depression looks like and interrogates what it means to look well or unwell. Melding the politics of both public and private space, Schalk insists that wherever there is pleasure there is power, joy, and activism. Here, pleasure activism is underscored as a tactic for care and resistance, where, in her words, “joy begets joy begets joy.”
Pamela Sneed’s watercolors profoundly document her evolving experiences of mourning over time. When My Brothers Were Alive and the Sun Shone is a series of portraits of Sneed’s chosen family members who died of AIDS in the early days of the pandemic; she vividly brings to life the beauty and joy their lives embodied, reminding us of the enduring ache of their loss. There is a profound connection between these images and her paintings of those murdered in the 2022 Tops Friendly Markets shooting: Sneed honors these beloved members of the Buffalo community and reminds us how sharply homophobia and racism are ensnared. In Mourning Series, Sneed offers us the visceral abstraction of mourning as simultaneously impossible to know and never complete.
What Would an HIV Doula Do? collective formed as a community who creates art, zines, and conversations about the ongoing AIDS Crisis. As doulas, they create space and support for times of transition, including the transition of an uprising. The What Does an Uprising Doula Do? zine asks us to think about how uprisings have “many rhythms, forms and scales” and thus many needs for space and support. As a result, they ask us to “rethink and reshape our shared relationship to resources, our commitment and accountability to mutual care, our very understanding of power. And ourselves.” The What Does an Uprising Doula Do? zine will be available for exhibition visitors to take with them as a way of connecting to and carrying forward activist tactics for care and mourning.
Kiyan Williams’s “In Defense of Weeds” presents amaranths that were uprooted from another of the artist’s public art sculptures because they were deemed “weeds'' that might invade the pristine, manicured lawn of the public park. Here the plants/not weeds are reclaimed (rescued?) in an attempt to give them new (extended) life/context/possibility. Situated within an art gallery, atop a white pedestal, occupying the domain of art object (or subject?), the plants may be imbued with new, counter-hegemonic meaning, and mark an attempt to intervene on what (or who) gets cared for (cultivated), and what (or who) gets thrown away.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Jessica A. Cooley and Ann M. Fox have been a collaborative curatorial team since 2009, when they co-curated RE/FORMATIONS: Disability, Women, and Sculpture and STARING (based on the work of disability studies scholar Rosemarie Garland-Thomson). They have lectured and published internationally on crip curation and crip art.
Curator Jessica A. Cooley (she/her/hers) is a scholar-curator with a PhD in art history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her first book project centers on what she calls “crip materiality” and will forward a new methodology to address how ableism affects the understanding and valuation of the very fibers of art materials within curatorial and conservation discourses. Cooley was assistant curator at Davidson College’s Van Every/Smith Galleries where two of the exhibitions she co-curated are considered among the first in the nation to investigate the intersection of disability and art: RE/FORMATIONS: Disability, Women, and Sculpture and STARING. Currently, Cooley is an ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow serving as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts Engagement Hub.
Curator Ann M. Fox (she/her/hers) is a Professor of English at Davidson College, where she teaches courses in literary and cultural disability studies, modern and contemporary drama, and graphic medicine. Her scholarship on disability and visual representation has been published widely, and she has also co-curated several disability-related visual arts exhibitions, including RE/FORMATIONS: Disability, Women, and Sculpture; STARING; and Re/Presentations of HIV/AIDS.
ABOUT THE FORD FOUNDATION GALLERY
Opened in March 2019 at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York City, the Ford Foundation Gallery aims to shine a light on artwork that wrestles with difficult questions, calls out injustice and points the way toward a fair and just future. Our hope is for this to be a responsive and adaptive space, one that serves the public in its openness to experimentation, contemplation and conversation. Located near the United Nations, the space is situated to draw visitors from around the world—and address questions that cross borders and speak to the universal struggle for human dignity.
The gallery is located inside the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice and is accessible to the public through the building entrance on 43rd Street, east of Second Avenue. Gallery events are open to the public, but registration is required.