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Constructed identities

January 23, 2018 to June 3, 2018

Persimmon Blackbridge

On Constructing Identities

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.

 

Artist Statement

I used to make art out of a passion to tell a particular story, a long complicated story, years in the telling: about when Sheila was locked up, or when I worked at Woodlands, or those long, brutal arguments about porn. By 2009, I was working on an art-story about the dead bodies and political posturing of war. Then my young friend Tempest Grace Gale was murdered. Soon after another friend, Catherine White Holman, died in a plane crash. Then my girlfriend, Della, had a series of small strokes and a fall that fractured her back.

Funerals and medical tests were suddenly the order of the day. My time horizon shrunk down to today, do this day today to day to day. Working on my art, I couldn’t tell the war story anymore. Instead, it became all about what was in front of me: this piece of driftwood (drowned like Tempest was drowned); these wings (like Catherine falling from the sky); this broken hinge (like Della’s fractured spine).

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.

Read the full artist statement

Gallery

About the Artist

For the past 40 years, Persimmon Blackbridge has worked as a sculptor, writer, curator and performer. She has also been a fiction editor, cleaning lady and very bad waitress. Blackbridge’s art, which has earned her the Lambda Literary Award, the Ferro-Grumley Fiction Prize, the VanCity Book Prize, the VIVA award for visual arts and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design Distinguished Alumni Award, has been shown across Canada and the U.S., and in Australia, Europe and Hong Kong. She currently lives on Hornby Island, British Columbia.

About Tangled Art + Disability

Tangled Art + Disability is boldly redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it. A not-for-profit art + disability organization, it is dedicated to connecting professional and emerging artists, the arts community and a diverse public. Its mandate is to support Deaf, Mad and disability-identified artists, to cultivate Deaf, Mad and disability arts in Canada, and to enhance access to the arts for artists and audiences. Through this work, it aims to create a new standard of excellence in the arts by prioritizing inclusivity through accessible curatorial, programming, and art making practices.

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