Constructed Identities

Co-hosted by Canada Council for the Arts,
23 January 2018, Canada

Persimmon Blackbridge uses mixed media wood carving with found objects to question how disability is framed as a fracturing of ordinary life rather than a normal, expected part of it. Her exploration of each figure begins in disability, but necessarily complicates itself as our embodied identities intersect and overlap.

Here are excerpts from the artist statement of Persimmon Blackbridge:

THIS BODY OF WORK is built of overlapping splinters of meaning: disability, the femme gaze, dead friends, racism, endless rain - all at once, as these things act on us all at once in our day to day lives. These layered meanings are reflected in the phrases spanning the edges of the panels - not defining a single piece or grouping, but opening questions and evoking alternate understandings of the series as a whole.”

THESE FIGURES ARE AWKWARD and fit together from broken parts, not because we (we people, we strange, ordinary people whose bodies defy the default) are broken, but because we are human -- and the human condition is awkward, contradictory, stitched together from disparate pieces. The figures also reflect power and beauty, not because we have in any final way freed ourselves, but because we have strength, grace and wonder, inseparable from our grief, confusion and anger.”

Tangled Art + Disability wishes to acknowledge the valuable discussions with select members of the Anglophone and Francophone disability communities. For this 2018 exhibition of Constructed Identities at Âjagemô, the English word “disability” will be translated in French to “handicap(é)”. As an organization that centers disability-identified, Mad and Deaf folk, we seek to continue the evolving and necessary conversation within these communities as to how we identify ourselves and are identified within a dual language country. You are welcome to email Tangled Art + Disability with any reflections or thoughts on how we can further this conversation.