Disability Art, Visibility and the City

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During May 2011 (ending May 15th) I visited the exhibition titled ‘Trazos Singulares [Singular Strokes],’ which was on display in Madrid’s Nuevos Ministerios metro station.

The exhibition comprised some sixty works produced by thirty artists with developmental disabilities [see above slideshow-my photos], and significantly, the work of artistic production was itself performed in situ between the 5th and the 8th of April. This simple decision has an understated significance given the history of the public (in)visibility of disability that has been written about so lucidly, for example, by Licia Carlson in her book The Faces of Intellectual Disability.

Also of interest is that the artists produced images of Madrid’s urban environment and transport systems (subway). An easy criticism would be that since the event was sponsored by Metro Madrid, it was a showy form of outreach/advertising, but I think that the event transcends that critique in some respects.

In my view this event raises questions of access to the city (Lefebvre’s question: who has the “right to the city”). This exhibit necessarily highlights how disability, urbanism and the interplay between the creative imagination and the built environment are all connected.

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