EVENT SERIES: Public Displays of Affection

September 28, 2020 - January 31, 2021

Critical Distance is excited to announce Public Displays of Affection (PDA), a new ongoing programming initiative exploring creative possibilities in accessible arts publishing. PDA will work within disability arts communities and beyond, building on Kelly Fritsch’s notion that “to crip is to open up with desire to the ways that disability disrupts.” Over the next several months, PDA will produce a collective learning opportunity that considers the pleasures, desires, and disruptions of making arts publishing initiatives more accessible.

Continuing from our Fall 2019 exhibition Access is Love and Love is Complicated (co-curated by Emily Cook and Sean Lee), we will host conversations, workshops, and case studies on topics such as audio description, plain language, digital platforms, ASL translation, access intimacy and others. Just as the title of Access is Love, and Love is Complicated directly cited disability activist Mia Mingus’ writing on understanding accessibility as an act of love, PDA will continue the conversation, asking: How can crip desire push at the boundaries of how we design, write, and distribute exhibition catalogues and other arts publications? How can we welcome new forms of affection?

 

Public Displays of Affection will run throughout late 2020 and early 2021. 

All PDA sessions coordinated and led by Emily CookSean Lee, and Daniella Sanader, in partnership with Creative Users Projects

 

This program is made possible through the generous support of the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Related Events

Case Study: El Alto

Conversation with Maria del Carmen Camarena, Eliza Chandler, Saada El-Akhrass, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Sean Lee, and Beatriz Miranda, moderated by Aidan Moesby

El Alto is a print and digital magazine produced by the British Council that showcases arts and culture in the Americas. The upcoming issue is centered around d/Deaf and disability arts and accessible practices in different countries of the region, connecting the breadth of activism, creativity, and critical work accomplished in very different social and political contexts. With the publication scheduled to be launched in Spring of 2021, this conversation will bring a number of contributors to El Alto together to discuss accessible publishing in the Americas, and broadly explore publications where d/Deaf and disabled artists’ works are featured. We are inviting participants to share publications that platform disabled artists from a political and disability justice perspective, so we can together learn more and highlight this critical work and thinking.

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PDA Workshop: Alt-Text Time

Alt-text and image description are important access measures, especially for blind and low vision communities and others who use screen readers. Alt-text is a written description of an image posted online. It provides access to the image for those who can’t see it. It is not visually displayed on a website or app, so if you aren’t a web developer or a screen reader user, you mostly interact with alt-text by writing it and adding it to your images through designated form fields during the image upload process. Yet so many images are posted and circulated online without accompanying alt-text, leaving many people out of what could be a shared experience.

Bojana Coklyat, Shannon Finnegan, and Aislinn Thomas will lead a group work session to dig into our collective backlog of alt-text writing for websites or social media. We can share what we’re working on, ask questions, and learn from each other in a more intimate way. Together, we’ll collaborate on making the internet a more engaging, fun, and welcoming place. In the spirit of a community quilting bee, we’ll come together to work individually and collectively toward a shared goal.

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PDA Case Study: A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention

In August 2019, artists Aislinn Thomas and Shannon Finnegan published a broadsheet and accessible PDF for A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention: Six writers respond to six sculptures through the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre. Also presented as a series of sound works, the project invited writers and poets across Canada to produce creative audio descriptions for a range of public sculptures installed throughout the Banff Centre.

For this case study session, Thomas and Finnegan will be in discussion, reflecting on the project and the challenges and opportunities of creative audio description in both accessible publishing and gallery/museum practices. They will be joined by Ramya Amuthan, host and producer at Accessible Media Inc, for further reflection.

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PDA: Crip Culture and Digital Experiments

Artists, activists, and others in disability communities have been adapting online tools and platforms for work and play since well before the pandemic forced able-bodied people online. What creative solutions and experiments in the digital sphere have been happening within disability communities? What have we learned so far from the efforts to come together and adapt tools that were not designed with disability in mind? Join us as we discuss the particular joys and challenges of creative access in an online world, with reflections from Jessa Agilo, Aimi Hamraie, and Yo-Yo Lin. This conversation is moderated by Lindsay Fisher, Founder and Director of Creative Users Projects.

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