image: Vanessa Dion Fletcher,Quillwork in twenty-nine Parts, porcupine quill embroidery on paper, 6 x 9 inches. The quills are folded back and forth making a zigzag pattern and the design is raised off of soft paper. The colours of the embroidery are warm reds pinks and browns.
ACCESS IS LOVE and LOVE IS COMPLICATED
AT CRITICAL DISTANCE CENTRE FOR CURATORS
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH TANGLED ART+DISABILITY
OCTOBER 3–DECEMBER 8, 2019 / Opening Oct 3rd, 6–9 pm
CRITICAL DISTANCE and TANGLED ART+DISABILITY are pleased to present ACCESS IS LOVE and LOVE IS COMPLICATED, an exhibition and event series featuring Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Kat Germain, Wy Joung Kou, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Andy Slater, Elizabeth Sweeney, Aislinn Thomas, and Adam Wolfond and Estée Klar. This program is co-curated by CDCC Education and Accessibility Coordinator, Emily Cook, and Tangled Art + Disability Director of Programming, Sean Lee and represents the next level in our ongoing series of programs providing opportunities for curators and artists to consider new and more collaborative aesthetic and conceptual approaches to accessibility within and beyond the gallery context.
ACCESS IS LOVE and LOVE IS COMPLICATED takes inspiration not only from disability activist Mia Mingus’ idea that accessibility should be understood as an act of love, but riffs on a pop cultural understanding that love is complicated—and thus, if we truly wish to move towards an accessible future then we must embrace the frictions of it. A lived experience that is often as political as it is relational, disability is a springboard from which access is entangled in the political alterities of our bodies; how they move, navigate and shape the world.
We–disabled people–are, as Kelly Fritsch notes, effective agents of world building and dismantling towards more just relations. But as we dismantle the world and work towards access as an act of love, we must also recognize that this act is complicated. Crip, Mad, Spoonie, and Deaf people are woven together in a tangled through-line of embodied difference, but more often than not our experience of negotiating access (or lack thereof) is performed alone. This is because our experience of disability has been something we’ve been told is located exclusively in our bodies. As we move towards access as love, and our understandings of disability shift towards relational, social and political frameworks, access, like love, becomes complicated—but in a good way. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, this kind of love is “ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”
FALL 2019 EVENT SERIES
Critical Distance and Tangled Art + Disability are pleased to announce the following events in conjunction with ACCESS IS LOVE and LOVE IS COMPLICATED. All events will take place at Artscape Youngplace; exact locations within the building and further details will be provided closer to event dates. Admission to exhibitions is always free; public open events are free, and pre-registered (space-limited) workshops and events are pay-what-you-can. Critical Distance is committed to paying fair wages as well as reducing barriers to participation in our programs. Accessibility information is provided below and will apply for all events.
Indigeneity, Neurodiversity and the Arts
A Conversation with Vanessa Dion Fletcher and Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning
Sunday, October 20th at 2 pm
How to Make Your Own Word Scavenger Hunt with Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Monday, October 21st at 6 pm
Dream-Worlding with Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning
Saturday, November 2nd at 2 pm
The Culture of Crip Aesthetics
Panel discussion with Sean Lee, Elizabeth Sweeney, Andy Slater, Wy Joung Kou and Aislinn Thomas
Moderated by Emily Cook
Saturday, November 9th at 2 pm
Access is Love and Love is Complicated: A reading group
Thursday, November 14th from 6–9 pm
Experimental Audio and Image Description with Aislinn Thomas and Kat Germain
Saturday, November 16th at 2pm
Critical Distance is located on the third floor of Artscape Youngplace, a wheelchair accessible building with a
ramp at the 180 Shaw Street doors, an elevator servicing every floor, and an accessible washroom on every level. The TTC’s 63 Ossington bus stops nearby and is wheelchair accessible. All events will have ASL interpretation and attendant care provided. Childcare may also be available; please inquire. CDCC seeks to facilitate a scent-free environment in order to reduce barriers to access for people with chemical sensitivities, and we ask all who attend our events to kindly refrain from using or wearing scented products or materials in advance of and during our events. All of our access measures rely on, and reflect, the goodwill of our team, colleagues, and visitors — thanks to all participants for helping us improve access for all. If your access needs are not addressed in this statement, we will work with you to support your access to the exhibition and events — contact us at email@example.com to inquire.
ABOUT the ARTISTS
ANDY SLATER is a legally blind musician, performer, and audio engineer. He is the founder of the Society of Visually Impaired Sound Artists and director of the Sound As Sight accessible field recording project. His current compositions use the sounds of modern, antiquated, and experimental accessibility technology, echolocation, and spacial recordings of his white tipped cane to control the narrative of his own experience as a blind person. www.thisisandyslater.com / www.andyslater.Bandcamp.com / Sound As Sight https://youtu.be/g58VbW9j5UY
ESTÉE KLAR and ADAM WOLFOND are mother and son who are active within the autistic self-advocate community since 2003. Adam is a non-speaking, 17 year-old autistic individual, high school student, poet, and co-founder of The A Collective which is a lab for the emergence of neurodiverse creative practice. Estée is a PhD Candidate at York University in Critical Disability Studies, curator of art, and artist since 1989. She is the founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (2005-2016) and has staged lectures and exhibitions by autistic artists. Adam is a collaborator on Estée’s dissertation which questions notions of agency and mastery as prerequisites for inclusion.
WY JOUNG KOU is a queer, chronically ill, multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto, with an evolving focus on ceramic, porcelain and glass mosaic work. As a mosaic artist, they are a poet, turned visual-tactile storyteller. Grounded in a disability justice framework centering accessibility, community and intersectionality, their artistic practice is interwoven with personal narratives of grief, diaspora, care, and intimacy. Kou’s independent mosaic work has been exhibited across the GTA since 2015, as well as in establishments such as Tangled Art + Disability Gallery and The Gladstone Hotel. In 2018 they were nominated as the inaugural winner of the JRG Grant for
Artists with Disabilities.
VANESSA DION FLETCHER graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 with an MFA in performance, and has exhibited across Canada and the US, including Art Mur (Montreal), Eastern Edge Gallery (Newfoundland), The Queer Arts Festival (Vancouver), and Satellite Art Fair (Miami). Her work is in the Indigenous Art Centre (Gatineau, Quebec), Joan Flasch Artist Book collection, Vtape, and Seneca College. In Vanessa is supported by the City of Toronto Indigenous partnerships fund as artist in residence at OCAD University for 2019. www.dionfletcher.com/
DOLLEEN TISAWAII’ASHII MANNING is a member of Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation, currently residing in Toronto. She is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar, with a PhD in Theory and Criticism (Western) and an MFA in Contemporary Art (Simon Fraser). Manning is an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Education and Pedagogy at York University, on leave while completing her SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Michigan State University (Philosophy, 2018-2020). Manning’s research takes up Anishinaabe imaging practices, epistemological sovereignty, and the debilitating impact of settler colonial logics.
ELIZABETH SWEENEY is a visual artist, art gallery educator, and curator. She is also a neurodivergent queer of Acadian settler decent, who grew up in rural Nova Scotia. She has a BFA in Studio Art from Concordia University (2001), a B.Ed from the University Of Ottawa (2005) and an MA in Critical Disability Studies from York University (2012), where she focused on disability art and contemporary curatorial practice. She has worked at The National Gallery of Canada, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and currently works at The Canada Council for the Arts. Elizabeth frequently presents and guest lectures on the topic of art criticism, activist museum praxis and contemporary disability arts. In 2019, Elizabeth was awarded a two-year Chalmers Art Fellowship for her project Premise/Shift. Originally from Tusket, Nova Scotia, Elizabeth lives with her Indo-Acadian family in Ottawa. www.elizabethsweeney.ca/
AISLINN THOMAS is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes video, performance, installation and text-based work. She culls material from everyday experiences and relationships, exploring themes of vulnerability, possibility and failure. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has received a number of grants and awards. Recent exhibitions include the WRO Media Arts Biennial in Wroclaw, Poland; Holding Patterns with ArtSpin and Tangled Art + Disability in Toronto, Ontario; Talk Back at Flux Factory in New York; and a commissioned project for the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff, Alberta. Aislinn lives and works near the Grand River in Kitchener, Ontario. www.aislinnthomas.ca
KAT GERMAIN is a dynamic artist on stage, screen and audio booth. Artistic modus operandi: authenticity. Uses acting as a petri dish; seeks to explore and understand the human condition from the inside out. Started writing to diversify acting roles, continue to hone skills and mine—in new ways—our collective consciousness and anomalies therein. Arts activist and advocate for increased diversity (both cultural and ability-based) in the performing arts. Trained Audio Describer, tying in to arts access, inclusion and voice work. When not performing or otherwise creating Kat teaches, primarily working with kids with autism/ multiple diagnosis. www.katgermain.com
ABOUT the PRESENTING PARTNERS
Tangled Art + Disability is boldly redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it. We are a not for profit art + disability organization dedicated to connecting professional and emerging artists, the arts community and a diverse public through creative passion and artistic excellence. Our mandate is to support Deaf, Mad and disability-identified artists, to cultivate Deaf, Mad and disability arts in Canada, and to enhance access to the arts for artists and audiences of all abilities. http://tangledarts.org/
Critical Distance is a not-for-profit project space, publisher, and professional network devoted to the support and advancement of curatorial practice and inquiry in Toronto, Canada, and beyond. With a focus on critically engaged, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary practices, underrepresented artists and art forms, and community outreach and education in art and exhibition-making, Critical Distance is an open platform for diverse curatorial perspectives, and a forum for the exchange of ideas on curating and exhibition-making as ways to engage and inform audiences from all walks of life. www.criticaldistance.ca