This month sees the return of the Unlimited festival to London’s Southbank Centre. Focusing on new artwork by disabled artists, the event will feature an array of exhibitions and performances including theatre, dance music, literature, and comedy.
Originally part of the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Olympics, this year the festival is expanding even further with an additional programme of activities taking place at Tramway in Glasgow.
Among the visual arts highlights opening this week at the Southbank is Denise Saul’s video installation Silent Room: A Journey of Language. A collaboration with film maker Helmie Stil, writer Emma Sweeney and individuals from Connect, the communication disability network, the work gives an insight into what it’s like to have a speech disability.
Other work on show includes photographer Sean Goldthorpe‘s series of reimagined film scenes with deaf and disabled dancers, plus a live installation by Noëmi Lakmaier in which she attempts to lift her tied and immobilised body off the ground using 20,000 multi-coloured helium balloons.
Visual arts projects taking place at both venues include the group show Nama Āto featuring work by three Japanese visual artists associated with Outsider Art. It includes Makoto Okawa’s ‘makoot’ dolls and colourful drawings, Koji Nishioka’s drawings of music scores and Yasuyuki Ueno’s explorations into the world of female figures and fashion objects.
Aaron Williamson’s Demonstrating the World is a performance-cum-exhibition where the artist enacts absurdly elaborate live take-offs of YouTube how-to videos. In addition, Bekki Perriman’s sound installation Doorways Project draws on her experiences of homelessness, the work comprising a series of recorded monologues positioned in locations around Royal Festival Hall.
Tramway’s programme will also include a number of dance and performance projects. Highlights include 43 Percent, a multi-media work by Gary Gardiner and Ian Johnston exploring the medical and social definitions of being human.
Unlimited, which is delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin, was recently awarded a major Arts Council England (ACE) grant of £1.8m to continue commissioning, producing and supporting the work of disabled artists.
1. Aaron Williamson, Demonstrating the World
2. Japanese Outsider Art. Credit: Koji Nishioka Untitled (Musical Score 16)