2021 curated by M. Sunflower, is a fully accessible online exhibition exploring the experience of 2021 through the eyes of artists with disabilities.
Following on from the successful 2020 exhibition, 2021 has extended the exploration of this 100% disability led initiative, to exhibit 22 artworks by 12 artists: Clover Pallier, Jeremy Hawkes, Asphyxia, Robert Duffield, Jessica Phippen, Will Hazzard, Ian Hazzard, Wart Burg, Sigrid McDonald, and M. Sunflower (Artist & Curator).
The curation order of the images almost tells a story, from linear to abstracted. Almost like an example of what the past 2 years has felt like for us all. Moving from a relative version of stability to global destabilisation, periods of unrest, fake news, masks, deaths, vaccinations, immune responses in our blood streams, abstracting further into landscapes in turmoil, then calming into peace, and moving finally into complete abstraction and a portal to renewal.
There are two ways to read this abstraction. The first is that we are completely at sea, adrift in a new way of being, seeking a shore to settle on where we can rebuild our comfort and our world anew.
But the second way of seeing it is freedom and relief. The more we move into abstracted colours, the more our bodies are able to relax and seek new ways of being. Better ways to exist, where all human beings recieve the human rights we deserve. Where all are equal, where marginalised people can achieve the equity they deserve.
Starting the exhibition with Asphyxia’s relatively direct artworks is a powerful activist message for human rights for people with disabilities. These clear statements of who we are, and some examples of what we suffer are presented in a bright andhumorous way, allowing those outside our ranks to learn and empathise with our experiences. This in turn leads to bonding, allyship and inclusion.
Then, BAM! The lifestyle we ordered has expired – along comes Covid-19. We are hit with Ian Hazzard’s fake news, climate strikes, government propaganda, Will Hazzard’s masking, anti-masking, and Robert Duffields people and animals dying. Then along comes the vaccine!
Hope renews. In Ian Hazzard’s prints we all queue up and cross the street to get Wart Burg’s “the prick”. Jeremy Hawkes’s large droplets are almost like the vaccine having been injected into our bodies as the warm colours, and being turned cool toned as our immune systems produce antibodies to destroy the Covid-19 pathogen and stop the disease. Then in Clover Pallier’s work we are transported from the abstracted dark landscape of 2020, to the lighter, more joyful abstract of 2021. Becoming engulfed by the hills in Jessica Phippen’s work, free to explore and focus on ourselves as both rolling textile mountains and cupped vessels. Glossy, shiny, strong as copper, worn but beautiful.
And we blossom into the new year. Like the velvet worms of Sigrid McDonald’s Onycophora velvet worms who like to hide from the light, bursting free into the Shimmering Rage of 2021. Almost prophetic, now that we are experiencing a renewal of fear and fury with the Delta variant.
Beautiful colours bubble all over the canvas, in the last few pieces of the exhibition, creating abstracted pathways, mountains and rivers, almost visible but not quite.
Almost like aerial maps of topography as we move into M. Sunflower’s Rhizome. The isolation of an island – evocative of the way we adopt social distancing in response to outbreaks, protecting ourselves, our unique fauna, from outside pathogens.
And finally we reach the portal to our future. A rainbow vortex. A tunnel to empty space — a space we the viewer can fill; where we can create our own future, our own affirmations, our own destiny, our own 2021.
Who do we want to be tomorrow? What do we want for our world? It can all come true right there in the centre of the portal. The light at the end of the tunnel. Resilience. Recovery. Revolution.
M. Sunflower – assisted by Gregory Punshon