About the exhibition
At a moment in history in which freedom, health, and inequality are at the cultural fore, this exhibition centres the reflections of disabled and marginalised people on the interwoven pandemics that Covid-19 has induced. Through this exploration of creativity, isolation, community, and crisis, a legacy unfurls. At its heart is a questioning of the sentiment that underwrote many decisions – personal and political – through these events: “we’re all in this together.”
Disabled people constitute almost two-thirds of Covid-19 related deaths in the UK and millions of people are set to live with Long Covid in the coming years. We are at a precipice beyond which lies an uncertain future. Might the conversations around what links us together, sustains us, and nurtures us deliver the change many demand – to attitudes, infrastructure, and society? Or, as a guise of “normality” resumes, are these fragile bonds and precarious relationships at risk of being cut or stretched beyond endurance?
At any time of social and economic uncertainty, it is the marginalised who are placed at greatest risk. The sick get sicker, the poor get poorer. From this perspective, society’s tapestry appears both taut and tattered. Examining this more closely, these artworks tap into the deep uncertainty of the moment, to interrogate the proposition that recent risk and adversity has been collectively and proportionally shouldered, unravelling threads of superficiality to expose both raw hope and endemic injustice.
All Bound Together? asks us not to forget the tensions and truths that surfaced this year, before which time it seemed that meaningful change to the status quo was impossible. It also acknowledges and archives the many homes that community has found in defiance of the odds; places where people have carved out space in which personal experience is afforded complexity, a means of tethering to others. This exhibition therefore serves as a testament to radical care and solidarity at times of struggle, as well as to consider the knottiness of the landscape in which these struggles take place.
David Hevey, Shape CEO and Artistic Director said: “We have been through grim locked-down times which have shown that society is now even more unequal. Responding creatively, these Shape Open 2021 artists take on that inequality and take apart the idea that ‘we will get through this together’. Shape is proud to champion these disabled and nondisabled artists, many of whom were hit hard by lockdown and who live at the sharp end of modern times, as they creatively question where diversity, disabled people, and other outsiders will be in the ‘new normal’ emerging from lockdown.”
Elinor Hayes, Curator, Shape Arts said: “It was largely due to the innovation and dedication of creatives that many of us made it through lockdown; streaming content, experiencing culture from our couches. And yet, as we ‘reopen,’ it is culture that is most at risk. A similar parallel exists for disabled people, who’s understanding of the importance of community and care has been a vital resource. At this juncture, when all the adaptations that have made contemporary life liveable risk being reversed, this exhibition carefully unravels the threads that have tied us together at the moment they’re most likely to fray.”
For All Bound Together? Shape commissioned artists Abi Palmer (All the worlds you’ll never see), Colin Lievens (People’s Postcode Lottery sponsors Emmerdale), and Akissi Nzambi (But you don’t look sick) to create new artworks directly responding to the exhibition’s themes.
If you enjoy All Bound Together? please consider leaving your feedback in our audience survey. All our feedback is used in the shaping of our future programme and helps us to continue championing disabled and marginalised artists.
About the exhibition BSL video
This exhibition is intended for persons 14 years of age and above and contains adult themes, language and images. Some of the content discusses personal / emotional experiences or contains light and sound effects.
Personal Independence Payment Face-to-Face Assessment, a film by Catherine Cleary, contains descriptions some may find distressing.
Together Forever, an animation by Emelia Kerr Beale, contains fast-changing images and shapes.
Les mans de ma mere, a film by melissandre varin, contains brief partial nudity.
I look at what’s real what’s not, a film by Rach Wellbeing, contains fast-changing images and descriptions some may find distressing.
Delay, a performance zine by Steven Fraser, covers content relating to isolation and anxiety that some may find distressing.
Content notes BSL video
Shape’s approach is to strike a balance between making accessible to all audiences the aesthetic of the works whilst conveying key information; accordingly in order to do so some details are emphasised in different ways across the different access formats. Where we have been able to embed the access we have done so, and with the exhibition being hosted online, some access formats are available in linked locations during the exhibition run. This includes British Sign Language support and audio description.
This exhibition makes use of Able Player, an accessible cross-platform media player that allows different versions of the same content to be accessed from the same place. We hope that this provides a more streamlined experience for users, but as it is the first time we have done so we welcome feedback on your visit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions regarding access during the exhibition, please contact email@example.com and we will get back to you as quickly as we can; if you can provide us with specific queries this will be helpful.
Accessibility BSL video
The Shape Open is our annual exhibition of artwork by disabled and non-disabled artists created in response to a disability-centred theme. The Open provides a space where disabled and non-disabled artists can discuss and exchange views and ideas about issues and topics which are often sidelined within artistic debate.
Curated and creatively produced by Shape Arts.
With thanks to Shape Open Patron Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA) for his continued support.
Shape is proud to be a National Portfolio Organisation, funded and supported by Arts Council England.
The bespoke website for All Bound Together? was built by the brilliant Frontwards Design.
The original inspiration for the exhibition’s title came from Simi Linton’s ‘Claiming Disability.’
We would also like to thank…
- Emily Roderick
- Ian Rattray
- Jane Sammut
- Marcel Hirshman
- Nikki Champagnie Harris
- Norah Opara
- Oliver Fisher
- Patrick Fisher
This exhibition was an exciting and timely collaboration between the curators, Elinor Hayes and Jeff Rowlings, and all of the artists and creatives involved, to whom we extend our warmest thanks.
We are proud to be a National Portfolio Organisation funded by Arts Council England.
Shape is also honoured to work with our partner, schuh, who’s consistent and dedicated support of our artistic programme is greatly appreciated.
Acknowledgements BSL video
Each room in this exhibition explores the many ways in which themes of isolation, grief, and community have found homes in recent months. You can navigate these rooms, and read more about their content, using the blueprint map below.