By Shilpaa Anand & Nandini Ghosh
The aim of this issue was to present disabled artists’ conceptions of their art. This endeavour was undertaken keeping in mind that a disabled artist or a disabled writer’s work is received/ perceived in certain normative ways: in a paternalistic manner, the art may be attributed only to their disability; the Super Crip attitude that considers that the disabled artist has a talent using which he or she overcomes their disability; the artist’s disability may be hidden from the world under the assumption that they may not consider their disability as part of their individual identity.
By Adarsh Baji
My disability, I can say, gave me a lot of time for pracitsing my art. I never had a chance to waste any time. I was able to concentrate on my art completely. On the other hand, I continued studying and completed my B. Com. in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. After that I was confused about what I should do next. I did consider doing a course in art but had no idea how to go about it. At the same time, my mother was keen that I get a government job, but I wasn’t interested in that. One of my teachers suggested that I do a Fine Arts course in Hyderabad.
By Avinash Shahi
Most of these artists hail from modest families. They belong to villages and small towns of rural India where the luxury to understand and appreciate art is too costly to afford. In such settings, where disability and poverty are inextricably intertwined, families of disabled people bear severe constraints to manage even two square meals a day for their survival. They lack the means to foster the passions of their disabled artist family members. Despite the absence of conducive environments that are essential to groom their artistic capabilities, disabled enthusiasts tirelessly practice and produce memorable performances.
By Reshma Valliappan
I have chosen the musical piece that plays at the end of the mime “I missed my Bauhaus Chair”, because it conveys to me the loss of opportunities experienced by someone with a psychiatric disorder. My view of the mental health system is not that of foundations based on care but foundations built on politics that started in Germany. Influential psychiatrists such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, and Paul Eugen Bleuler were instrumental in coining and defining terms such as neurosis, dementia praecox, and schizophrenia.
By Partho Bhowmick
Photography by the blind is a social equaliser: it challenges perception and inspires social change. Many of the participants in the Blind with Camera project have expressed delight in the fact that they are doing something many people would not have thought possible. Blind with Camera is an ongoing project of creation, expression, and communication that helps address feelings of isolation and provides a means to engage with society and create a forum for dialogue between the seeing and non-seeing world.
By Sudam Pal
Now I take solitary walks in the rain,
My grassy feet feel the Maidan grounds all over again,
I let my tears into the drizzle and melt my core,
So that nobody asks me if I am sore.
By Prateeksha Sharma
Recovery from mental illness is a difficult process for anyone. One of the key engagements that I have thereafter got into is to first consolidate my recovery, and second, to conduct an analysis of recovery, via research. Having ‘lost’ two decades of life, it has taken time to put the train back on track, and then to be certain what the track could be.
By Ankur Advocacy Group
This video narrative, made by the Ankur Advocacy Group is one of the first endeavours of the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy’s (IICP) media lab team. We started the media lab as a space for creative expression through experimentation with language, visuals and sounds. This video is totally an in-house production.
By Raju Patel
For me, my works are not a representation of physical disability, because representation implies that the one who is expressing has the power or authority to speak for another person. My interest in disability and art is an outcome of my own physical disability. I cannot make or present myself as an observer, but I can only make myself the subject, a subject whose disability is shaping its subjectivity;“I may be different but not disabled.”
By Barsha Bhattacharya
But different as we are,
We can still sing the same song.
Mother, do you think of us as being different?
Do you measure us on different scales?
By Shefalee Jain
Much of my work is about the diseased body and how we look at it. I am intrigued by the discomfort, the horror, the disgust, and simultaneously the invasive curiosity that the sight of a diseased (especially a diseased skin) or disabled body, creates in us. Why do we react to it in such terror and with such violence? Why is it that despite advances in modern medicine, there has been no positive change in our ways of seeing and accepting the fact of disease?
By Karunakar Yenikapati
When I began to think about disability and its different aspects, I thought it would be better to represent those thoughts visually. I wanted to assert my disabled identity so as to rise above the social pressures that surround us to be normal. I think it is important to celebrate disability in the same way that being woman and being dalit have been celebrated by the feminist and dalit movements.
By Jyothsna Phanija
Intentionally or unintentionally, as artists with disabilities, we become part of promotion of such stereotypical disability aesthetics, although we do our best to minimize their intensity. In this context, certain ideas can promote a better view of art and disability and this may include negating the idea that a disabled artist’s art is a “gift”or a “blessing” and instead promoting the idea that the art is a form of expression of the voice of the disabled person.