The British Council was pleased to support CripFest, conceived and curated by British artist Mat Fraser, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 25, 2015 at BAM Fisher in New York City.
Over the last 25 years since the ADA was passed, I’ve watched disabled artists mature, attain fantastic professional heights of accomplishment, and soar with their work creating brilliant, often game-changing art. Why then in mainstream arts productions, do we mostly only see portrayals of disability that don't reflect this reality? Still using the outmoded and damaging medical or charity models of disability that prevail on film and TV, still too often played by non-disabled actors, still infused with the heroic, non-threatening “inspiration porn” that flies in the face of our true reality, and still with the Oscars! 'Inspiration Porn' is the term coined by Disability media activist Stella Young (RIP), where she derided being found inspirational for “being able to remember her name and getting up in the morning”. Stella's talk on this is one of the several seminal video pieces included in the CripFest visual arts program.
However, in that time many incredible disabled artists & their creative partners have made work, careers, reputations and sometimes waves producing work that shows our reality and thus all of society, refusing to accept the stubbornly outmoded & negative media imaging of disabled people, but instead remould our understanding of Disability in our society, fashion it into the vibrant, exciting, and inclusive world that we strive to live in, as we continue to critique, laugh at, and highlight the Disability experience. From Hip Hop dance, theatre, striptease, cabaret, fine art and performance art, comes this assured movement of creative artists who are reshaping the notion of disability in our world. So, come along and celebrate it with us...at CRIPFEST!
-- Mat Fraser, CripFest curator