Measures of Bodies, Artistic Director Alice Fox, exhibition, installation and performance, Brussels Medical Museum, 28th May – 24th September 2010
This arts-based research project was commissioned by the European Academy of Childhood Disability to run alongside their 22nd International Annual Multidisciplinary Scientific conference, Measures of Progress.
Measures of Bodies Exhibition is a collection of artwork made by the learning disabled Rocket Artist group. This exhibition included new drawings, prints and paintings made in response to the ideas and artefacts in the Medical Museum. The Rocket Artists worked over a period of six months supported by artists Alice Fox, Jane Fox and Ella Ritchie towards this exhibition at their studio in Phoenix Arts, Brighton.
Identity, heart as pump and emotional centre and our unique bodies are recurrent themes in the work. A performance by artists with and without learning disabilities in the Grande Salle on the opening night with a live heartbeat soundtrack also explored these ideas through dance.
Jars Installation, A site-specific artwork in the Grande Salle replaced the museums existing collection of sample jars with 60 newly labelled jars containing autobiographical text and body sculptures by Rocket Artists and staff and students from the University of Brighton. Remnants, artefacts and preserved histories are replaced by contemporary notions of the body and self. Thereby taking on the role as ‘labeller’ the artists redefine their identity to challenge a culture of stereotypes and deficit models.
Measures of Bodies performance. Directed by Alice Fox and Jacobus Flynn, a 25 min, site specific performance in the Grand Salle at the Medical Museum on 27th May re-activated these jars through a process of classifying and reclassifying. By taking it in turns to order and re-position the jars according to their own choices, the performers made a mischievous attempt to be heard and present their own ways of seeing.
By positioning the work within the Medical Museum collection value is placed on preserving the knowledge of people with learning disabilities as experts of themselves.
“I really understood the punching message these artists with disabilities were sending back to us professionals. “Measures of Bodies”. How they see how we measure them. Like artefacts. How we label them and look only at the labels and at times change the labels. How we place parts of people in jars for display – and that is what we actually do. And then the pictures. The violence in the sketches. The intoxicating colours. The writing. The challenging titles. A great exhibition.” Professor Bernard Dan chair of the Annual Multidisciplinary Scientific conference
The Rocket Artists project is a radical arts project in which artists with learning disabilities work alongside staff and students from the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton. Over the past seven years it has established a pioneering model for inclusive learning and now provides a unique platform for arts-based research into teaching methods and creative practices. The Rocket Artists are funded by Arts Council England and supported by the University of Brighton through the MA Inclusive Arts Practice course.
To see more artwork and information about the Rocket Artists www.rocketartists.co.uk