Indisposable: Exhibition

Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning
October 1 – December 10, 2022 

Ford Foundation Gallery

Curated by Jessica A. Cooley and Ann M. Fox

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?, Kiyan Williams

Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning is the follow-up to Indisposable: Structures of Support after the Americans with Disabilities Act, also curated by Jessica A. Cooley and Ann M. Fox. A three-year collaboration with more than thirty artists and scholars, the originating exhibition emerged as eight online chapters, each addressing the urgent questions of the moment where the Covid-19 pandemic and demands for racial justice laid bare the painful reality that some lives – especially disabled, queer, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) – 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 in the moment, delving into profound questions such as: 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 that emerged as critical to the originating eight online 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 even as we care for and sustain each other.

For many communities, “care” is veiled language used to justify horrendous acts of brutality. Canada’s residential school system, the Tuskegee Study, Nazi Germany’s T4 program, and the abuse by ostensible “caretakers” that happens every day in nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals are just a few examples of why “care” is often synonymous with medical cruelty, community erasure, control, and trauma. The artists of Indisposable confront this cruelty of care by reclaiming it as a practice created by and for those communities that have historically been the most impacted by it. Small-scale, personal, and community-centered work carves a new space for pleasure, rest, nature, conversation, and tenderness that in its insistence to care for that which is deemed disposable also becomes an activist tactic for resisting that very disposability.

This resistance includes mourning as an act of care to claim sacred space for those lives and losses seen as undeserving of such hallowed ground. The reclamation of mourning, like that of care, then also becomes an activist tactic to not let go of our losses, a call to take them with us into a world where we must continue to demand support structures so that disabled, queer, BIPOC, poor, and immigrant communities might not just survive, but will flourish.

This exhibition takes an expansive approach to access. It embraces Mia Mingus’ concept of access intimacy, “that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else ‘gets’ your access needs.” The access needs of artists and gallery visitors are prioritized by curating and presenting work in a way that anticipates physical, sensory, and processing differences. Access is a form of creativity, with artists incorporating it in ways both innovative and intentionally exceeding the minimal or routine. By centering the daily tactics for survival practiced by those living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, access also becomes a powerful tool for resistance.

A large-print exhibition brochure is offered for all visitors. Touch objects are available near the gallery desk and are intended to be handled by all visitors, especially those with different cognitive processing needs and low-vision and blind visitors. You can access an audio guide that contains visual descriptions of all the works in this exhibition. Most of these descriptions have been written and recorded by the artist themselves, allowing you to hear the voice of the artist and their personal description of their work.

The artists in this exhibition 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.