Warning, this is going to be crass.
School’s been shit the last few weeks, unless you live in Saudi Arabia (It’s under Iraq), you know that the Corona Virus as murdered everyone’s schedules. Whether that’s warranted or not is a discussion for another day, but I’ve been having to do my schooling online, much like pretty much everyone else in the country. I understand the need to flatten the curve, and that there’s no such thing as a well-timed emergency, but fuck dude. I have a hard time learning online as it is, but the school’s implemented a system where we still have all our lectures via the video conferencing platform Zoom. We’re having class at the same times, but instead of going somewhere to have human fucking being teach me something, I get to look at a little square on my computer. Now, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue if the classes were formatted to be video based, for instance Simon Whistler’s podcasts (all of them), PBS’s It’s Okay To Be Smart, and Kathrine Green’s The Art Assignment are all absolutely amazing learning tools. However, a lecture meant to be given in person over video chat is nothing short of godawfull. I know that my professors are not to blame, and I do not in any way shape or form hold it against them. We’re all victims of circumstance here, and I’m sure they’re just as frustrated with everything on their end as I am on mine.
One of the adjustments that’s been made has been turning to writing a lot more papers to absorb the material, as well as in lieu of in class discussion we read up on something and post out thoughts on the class’s in house forums. Which leads us to today. One of my classes we were to listen to a podcast, or read the transcript and respond to it with a short paragraph and talk amongst ourselves what we thought went into it.
Link to the podcast here: https://www.mapping-access.com/podcast/2020/3/16/episode-25-contraarts-access-with-emily-watlington
The episode introduction read as such: “The podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.”
In the interview, Emily Watlington, who suffers from Lyme Disease, talks about making art more accessible to people with disabilities whether it be not being able to see certain art because it’s in a place that’s not wheelchair friendly, or if the person’s blind and needs someone to tell them what’s in front of them. I didn’t hold too much issue with her or the host, besides a bit of agonizing over being too privileged, but the associated links to other artist mentioned on the podcast pissed me the fuck off. I may or may not be in for some heat for this one, but here’s my response:
“It’s hard for me not to be apathetic about this subject matter. Before I start digging into this, I’m going to preface with stating that I don’t have any cartilage in my knees anymore, I have disconnected tendons in my ankles (The corrective surgery has a 20% success rate), my tinnitus is so bad that sound rarely wakes me from sleep, and if you want to have some real fun, go look up mental effects of long term malaria medicine usage. I’m constantly in an extreme amount of physical pain, so, please don’t think that I don’t at least understand the disability aspect of the subject matter of the podcast and the linked article “Disability and the Politics of Visibility.”
All of this came off to me as “Poor me.” I understand the struggle, however there was nothing brought forward that suggested overcoming adversity. Yes, stairs suck, and so does sitting down, because it feels like there’s a knife in your kneecaps, when everyone else moving around, but I also know that the world doesn’t revolve around me and besides what’s dictated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, they don’t need to, and I would only be slowing people down by demanding their help.
In the podcast they mentioned Shannon Finnegan who’s work centers around making art that focuses on accessibility and disability culture. Finnegan’s work is abhorrently privileged. She hosted a protest of the Vessel at Hudson Yards, which is a series of 154 interconnected stairways. The protesters all signed forms that stated they won’t enter the structure. Her website bemoans that the Vessel is touted as ADA-Compliant, as there’s an elevator, but her problem is that the elevator doesn’t give the participant the experience of the structure, which is just climbing starts. This is kind of like writing a hate letter to Lady Gaga because you’re deaf and can’t hear her music. Do you know what disabled people want? It’s for everyone else to treat them like the didn’t have one. As of right now it’s 8:30 and I want to get this in by 9 so I’m not going to put a lot of research into this, but a five minute scouring of the internet looking for what her actual disability is bore no fruit, and maybe I’m wrong about this and she’s got spondylitis or narcolepsy, but I HATE when people who are not in a certain demographic use said demographic as a political tool.
Moving on, Emily Waltington seems like she at least has her heart in the right place, but she doesn’t seem to understand that no art is for everyone. Art doesn’t have to have a message, but it really should. And if there’s a message, there’s an audience, and if there’s an audience, it’s geared towards the people who would appreciate it. For example, there’s a song I like called The Mariner’s Revenge Song, by The Decemberists. It’s a long, acoustic ballad about a boy in the age of sail who’s mother is wronged and left to die by a scoundrel and then he goes on a eighteen year journey seeking revenge. The music in wonderful, the story is dramatic, and it feels good when I put my hands on the speakers as it plays. Now, a deaf person will never hear this song. If the lyrics were to be transcribed, they might read it, but even if they liked the poetic form it took, half the meaning is gone as it’s in the music.
Look, we live in an age where there’s something for everyone to enjoy, but it’s not the artist’s responsibility to provide that. The artist’s job is to create the art they want to create, whether it be high society fine art or painting flowers on gourds to sell at the craft fair. It’s on the viewer or listener to find the art that moves them.”
Shannon’s self righteous bullshit here: https://shannonfinnegan.com/anti-stairs-club-lounge-at-the-vessel
After the rant, another article about Andrea Crespo, who self identifies as, and I quote, “transgender dicephalophilic person with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome,” was refered to me. Dicephalophilic, means that he identifies as a conjoined twin.
That’s a thing.
This dude has a BFA from the Pratt Institute and his art is subpar to that socially awkward weeb you hung out with in middle school who only drew furries and never got any better at it. I’m serious. His (Yeah, I know he identifies as “they,” and I normally respect that, but FUCK this guy) parents must have donated so much money to that school that they were able to hire Jeff Bezos as a barmaid.
My response to that reads as such:
“I don't know what's going on with Andrea Crespo. They (?) identify as dicephalic parapagus twins, even though there are pictures on the internet of the person and that's clearly not the case. I hold issue with that as it takes away from people who struggle with actual physical and mental issues. Say for example there's someone somewhere who suffers from gender dysphoria (which is a recognized condition by the NHS), and that person wants to reveal themselves for who they are on the inside. If they see someone like Crespo identifying as a conjoined twin for no apparent reason than to bring attention to himself, that's going to be harmful because it delegitimized the struggles of people who are already in the categories society deems as "other." Crespo also self identifies as having Aspergers, which again, is a real thing that someone can't just going around saying they have because they feel like they do. There's an entire field dedicated to research Aspergers that's trying to understand, and if possible prevent it. I know people with Aspergers and they don't just go around telling people they have it every chance they get. I know I don't know everything about this person, but from what I could find since tonight, I'd label Crespo as a shameless attention whore who need a gimmick because their actual artwork in uninspired, aesthetically unpleasing, low quality tripe, that if is to be considered worthy of being displayed at the Loius Vuitton Foundation, without a exuberantly generous donation from mommy and daddy, we might as well quit because art is dead.”
I'll let you know if I'm still in school next week.
Democracy was a mistake.