Artistic Director Ju Gosling aka ju90 writes: It was a real joy to see more than 100 people come to celebrate the launch of our Together! 2013 Disability History Month free festival at the Old Town Hall in Stratford on Friday (22 November). The event also provided an opportunity to view the Together! 2013 Open Exhibition for the first time.
The Open Exhibition brings together the artwork of around 70 disabled children and adults who live, work, study, volunteer or otherwise have a connection with Newham. Everyone who identifies with this description is able to enter one piece of artwork, with a guarantee that it will be accepted for exhibition (so long as it is suitable for family viewing). The exhibition will tour to at least two more venues in 2014.
In addition to the visual art within the Open Exhibition, Friday night saw the premiere of a new piece of Live Art by Katherine Araniello, made especially for the festival. Katherine’s work brings together live performance with film and video, and is always characterized by her dry sense of humour.
In this piece, Katherine chose to play the part of an art critic, interviewing herself about her work and the motivation behind it. To do this she filmed herself responding to the interviewer’s questions, and showed this footage on a screen next to her. She also included clips of some of her recent video work as background to the video. I particularly loved the final, muttered sentence from the video-ed Katherine: “I hate art.”
One of Katherine’s starting points when she created the piece was the late David Morris, and the legacy he left behind in bringing people together to work creatively and change the world. David’s philosophy inspires everything that we do at Together!
David spent the last two years of his life leading on ‘external inclusion’ for London 2012. More than anyone else, he was responsible for making the Games accessible to all (and similarly, his absence probably contributed significantly to the problems that did exist).
David understood that the fundamental importance of the Games is not about displays of sporting excellence, but the part they play in bringing together people from all nations to participate in an atmosphere of peace and friendship. Newham, as the most diverse community on the planet, was uniquely suited to this, and ditto to carrying forward this Legacy.
The Games have always included cultural activities alongside sport. As with our exhibition, the inclusion of art demonstrates that physical – or intellectual – triumph is not what ultimately matters. Rather, it is the triumph of the human spirit.
Katherine’s work forefronts beliefs that were also very close to David’s heart; that life is worth living whatever barriers we may face; all humans are valuable; and so the language of ‘assisted dying’ should be exposed and challenged. I am so pleased that we will have another chance to see her piece – no doubt having developed further in the meantime – at our end-of-festival party on 19 December.