Unlimited has announced 24 new commissions and awards spanning a range of disciplines that spotlight the works of talented and diverse disabled artists.
This year’s commissions have been divided into three strands, each with its own judging panel: Main Commissions including several research and development awards; Emerging Artists; and International Collaborations, which will see disabled UK artists working with disabled artists from across the globe.
Among the Main Commissions artists, Jo Bannon will produce a new large-scale performance project, We Are Fucked, which explores the internal and external experiences of female desire, sexuality and neoliberalism. Kai Syng Tan will create a roving participatory installation, We sat on a mat and had a chat and made maps!, which will celebrate ‘mind-wandering, magic carpets, mapping, making, making small talk and making things up’.
R&D Awards recipients include Anna Berry whose work Breathing Sculptures is an interactive and experiential outdoor installation lined with cones which breathe in and out, powered by static bicycles. Raquel Meseguer’s installation piece, A Crash Course in Cloudspotting (the subversive act of horizontality), will explore the experience of invisible disability (chronic pain) and provide a ‘public resting space’ for neurodiverse people.
Among those receiving International Collaborations awards, Rachel Gadsden and Ali Saied will partner with artists from Palestine to create a multi-visual installation, It Was Paradise, which will highlight the voice of the disempowered.
Emerging Artists to receive awards include Kristina Veasey whose immersive installation My Dirty Secret! will transform common household detritus into fabrics ‘running riot across walls, curtains, cushions and armchairs’.
Announcing the awards in what he said was “one of my last but very pleasant tasks as the outgoing CEO of Shape”, Tony Heaton OBE explained that the panels had selected a diverse and eclectic mix of work: “I think the range of ideas we have funded will once again show disabled artists at their creative and ambitious best, so sit up and take notice!”
Unlimited’s senior producer Jo Verrent added: “The response to Unlimited’s commissions call-out has been staggering and we are thrilled to announce the 2017 awardees from 269 applicants. The newly commissioned artists will be developing their works over the coming year and will be unveiled to the public across 2017 and 2018.”
Speaking for the judging panels – which comprised disabled artists, curators, critics and senior staff members from organisations including Extant, Southbank Centre and Tramway – previous Unlimited awardee Aidan Moesby said: ”It’s essential to provide opportunities for the next generation of disabled artists to develop as professional artists and performers, and as someone who has benefitted from an Emerging Artists commission in the past I know the difference it can make to an artist’s practice.
“My practice has developed beyond recognition over the last three years and it would be nice to think this is the beginning of any amazing trajectory for those commissioned from this panel.”
Funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, British Council and Spirit of 2012, and delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin, Unlimited has, since 2013, provided nearly £1.8 million in commissions as well as mentoring support to 72 young and emerging disabled artists.
See the full list of Unlimited Commissions 2017 awardees at www.unlimitedimpact.org.uk
1. Raquel Meseguer, A Crash Course in Cloudspotting (the subversive act of horizontality). Photo: Synnøve Fredericks
2. Rachel Gadsden, It was Paradise. Works by Mahmoud Abu Daghash