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Live art, the enabler

Access All Areas: book & DVDs

Access All Areas, Live Art and Disability, Live Art Development agency, London 2012 Access All Areas, Live Art and Disability, Live Art Development agency, London 2012
Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability is a wonderful collection of artist statements, dialogues, essays and two generous DVDs of performances, screenings and talks.

The publication reveals the passion and creativity of UK artists who either provocatively “perform their disabilities” (Martin O’Brien, Mucus) or create live art works that, with video, sound art and challenging physical performance (transcending limited ability to speak or control movement), express ordinary human needs. On his wheelchair, limbs flailing Pete Edwards in FAT longs for the embrace “a fat man” as he journeys along a perpetually exploding Southbank, his own slender body variously naked and buried in sheets and headphones.

Well-known names in the collection include Bobby Baker, Ron Athey (writing about Martin O’Brien), Kim Noble and Back to Back Theatre (The Democratic Set 2). The short-armed Matt Fraser appears in film excerpts, including one with him onstage in a touring contemporary freak show where he appears as the famous Sealboy of sideshow lore. DAG (The Disabled Avant-Garde) perform Robots Destroy the Tower of Babble! in electronic wheelchairs and Alan McLean and Tony Mustoe surreally grapple with furniture in Knocking. One of the most striking works is Noemi Lakmaier’s Undress/Redress in which an able-bodied man in a suit simply removes jewellery and formal clothing from the artist’s immobile body and then slowly re-dresses her. Lakmaier writes about the familiarity and absurdity of the scenario: “are the man’s intentions sexual or those of a caregiver? Am I fully consenting or am I merely tolerating it.”

The large print format of the book and the DVD’s subtitling and optional audio description make the collection relatively easy to use for a wide audience. The provocative content is a reminder that people with disabilities have rich imaginations, as made visible when their desires are enacted as live art. We’ll have more about Access All Areas in a coming edition. RT

Access All Areas, Live Art and Disability, Live Art Development agency, London 2012; copies available from the agency’s online bookshop.

RealTime issue #118 Dec-Jan 2013 pg. 12

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