Public Displays of Affection – Disability Arts Collaboration and Consent

Cathy Horsley
CCP, University of Melbourne

According the Australian Human Rights Commission almost 20 per cent of Australians have a disability (3.96 million people). The 2014 Australia Council for the Arts, Arts in Daily Life Reports “nearly half of people living with disabilities are creating art”. And yet very few people are aware of disability as a topic of art.

The roll out of NDIS has the potential to create unprecedented opportunities for people with disability to participate in art making generating the need for deeper investigation into the efficacy of current consent processes.

Using the process of seeking informed consent as a starting point, my research will examine the tensions arising from the facilitation of creative opportunities between marginalised and non-marginalised people, through artistic facilitation and collaboration as a means of challenging existing barriers and promoting social change.

I am seeking to understand the relationship between the depiction of lives of people with disability in order to investigate a range of cultural and representational issues, desire, power, the gaze, bodies, sexuality, and ethnicity, and how this material is generated by artists with and without disability and perceived by audiences with and without disability.

Various disability theorists are of importance to my research as they investigate the social model of disability as well as the lack of realistic cultural representations of experiences of disability arguing that the prevalence of ‘pity porn’ or ‘pain narratives’ not only contributes to the ‘otherness’ of people with disabilities but also increases non-disabled people’s fear of disability.