A subject that has been on everybody’s lips recently, is disability and sexuality.
Earlier this year we carried out an investigation surrounding disability, dating and relationships called “It’s Complicated”. I was pleased to see this issue addressed by the Trailblazer network as I had been working, through art, on this topic over the last 5 years.
Articulating disability, not as a universal blurb, but the relationship I have with it, can feel like a lost cause. As is explaining the relationship between myself, my sexuality, race and gender. There will never be an end to the string of discourses that follow one simple noun, disability.
The image of disability is almost tainted with the mainstream media’s associations, such as pity, tragedy, misery and helplessness, in no way is it related to ‘sexiness’ or ‘desire.’. These connotations are not fact, they are based on a society that aims to diagnose anything, and anyone, that differs from what is deemed as the ‘norm’.
People negotiate a world which is shaped by images, in particular media images. The reality of the lives that people with disabilities lead is not one that is based solely on struggles. The media seems to forget that people with disabilities are just that – people with disabilities. The disability does not encompass the whole identity, for example, I prefer to refer to myself as Mindi, who happens to have a disability. The disability doesn’t have me, nor am I disabled – I am, we are, differently abled.
The image of disability is one that has never, realistically, been associated with attraction… and this is where my blog comes in.
About my work
Whilst at university (2009-2012) a lot of my projects and work surrounded disability discrimination, identity and personal experiences – including sex, sexuality and relationships.
I see my practice as an ongoing investigation subverting the representation of disability – traversing between other classifications of the population that intersects disability, such as sexuality, race and gender. Even though these factors are integral to the foundation of my practice, I use the exploration of identity and self-perception to penetrate the social, political, physical, personal and philosophical notions attached to the term ‘disability’. Thus, my practice takes on an interdisciplinary approach to stereotypes.
I am intent on exposing the cultural ignorance of common stereotypes associated with disability, predominantly society’s perception of the ‘cultural norm’. I seek to identify issues surrounding image acceptability in the mainstream media, and how artists and activists have used transgressive reappropriation to subvert existing forms.
Disability narratives, both personal and publicised, form the armature of which my work is created on. The medium(s) of choice, the use of hyperbolic narratives alongside theories of transgressive reappropriation, are intertwined intending to provoke responses from the spectator. It is through these provocative catalysts of images and narratives that I anticipate to violate the aesthetic distance between the viewer and the piece. To execute this violation, the visceral and theoretical boundaries of ‘disability’, the media representations and the politics of aesthetics need to be challenged in order to successfully reclaim the misconceptions surrounding the cultural process.
NIP SLIP CRIPS
Recently I decided to start a blog called Nip Slip Crip(s). I have no idea why, considering I am terrible at keeping diaries, but it felt like a good opportunity to vocalise a lot of issues, hidden from the mainstream eyes, that people with physical impairments and/or mental health issues have.
I created ‘Nip Slip Crip(s)’ as a term to put together the two core elements of identity, disability and sexuality, that seem to be culturally absent in society and the mainstream media.
Disabled people are omitted from the mainstream media. Images, video and media tell lies. Images allow for ‘aesthetic distancing’; creating a gap between the spectators conscious reality and the fictional reality they are presented with.
Disabled people are seen as asexual beings. The idea that disabled people have sex is seen as a taboo; something that should be confined to the bedrooms and hidden away from a society that uses mainstream media images as an anchor for social reality. The aim of my blog is to not only touches on issues such as disability and sexuality, but to transverse through all the core elements of an individual’s identity that sit aside the term ‘disability’. This includes gender, race/ethnicity, class, religion, the medical environment and so on.
Additionally, the title of this blog also means that something intimate is shared for a split second, whether by purpose or by accident, we all have these moments where we feel vulnerable. Our ‘vulnerability’ (I am using this term loosely) should not be seen as a weakness. I transgressively reappropriate the term ‘crip’, to abolish the negative associations and reclaim the term in use of activism.
Recently, I was approached by ROCO magazine, and I am now featured on their website’s “Love art” section (www.rocomag.com/aminder-virdee/).
My most recent art work, “Keep This Leaflet. You May Need To Read It Again.” Will be featured in the ‘Crafting Anatomies” exhibition at Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham, in January 2015.
Hopefully I will get used to the blogging world!
Goodbye for now,
Mindi (Aminder Virdee)
London Trailblazer-turned- Scottish Trailblazer.