Curated by Okapi Neon & Willurai Kirkbright
01.11.2017 - 24.11.2017
Featuring work by John A Douglas, Natalie Aylward, Jesse Rye, Grant Gronewold, Steph Tsimbourlas, Sissi Reagan, Okapi Neon and Willurai Kirkbright
Fully Sick is group exhibition showcasing the work of artists living with chronic illness, pain and disability. These artists will pull back the hospital curtain to reveal their intimate and vulnerable lived experiences and complex relationships to their bodies, their identities and the outside world. Through this exhibition we are forging visibility and a platform for experiences that are often silenced. Resisting a capitalist paradigm of productivity and worth, these artists seek to thrive in a world built against their survival. Capacity and the tender process of art making are often at odds with the ability to ‘succeed’ in the competitive art world. Many of the artists and the discussions will look at the intersectionality of multiple marginalised identities and disability and accessibility advocacy. There is a diverse range of artists in this exhibition and Aboriginal representation has been extremely important. Aboriginal people live with the highest mortality rate in this country and face racism and stigma in the medical system on multiple devastating levels. LGBTIQ people who live with sickness also face multiple layers of discrimination.
Fully Sick uses representation as a way of reclaiming ones own body and challenging the misconceptions of what disability and illness looks like. Living with illness affects every element of life from romance to workplace dynamics and family interactions. There is also a beautiful increased sense of perception and priorities that can grow in negotiating this reality. Come be immersed in a colourful and visceral exploration of the fine lines these artist walk. This is secret lives of hidden suffering, background noise of chronic pain, enforced able-bodiedness, intimacy and violence.
Many of the artists are othered in multiple ways and these highly conceptual and aesthetically lux works speak of negotiating space, time, love, sex and social media while sick. We are creating a space for dialogue and understanding about illness. These experiences will be explored through digital images, video work, performance, music, ceramics, customised medical paraphernalia and paintings.
Due to an issue of inaccessibility of the exhibition spaces at Firstdraft this exhibition will travel to a second location, Gallery Aurora. At Firstdraft more than half the artworks are being displayed on the second level of the building. This part of the space is only accessible via a staircase. The second viewing will open on 29th of November and run until the 13th December. Gallery Aurora and Studios is an ARI run by Willurai Kirkbright. It is a community space that prioritises unheard voices and forging important dialogue in the art world.
Details on Gallery Aurora can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/GalleryAuroraSH/
John A Douglas
John A Douglas is an interdisciplinary artist working across video, performance, live art installation, photomedia, sound and objects. His practice investigates his ongoing experience of chronic illness through scientific and collaborative, immersive performance approaches. Douglas offers a unique and personal perspective as both artist and patient. Douglas has been artist in residence at Museum of Human Disease at UNSW, Symbiotica Lab, at UWA, Fraser Studios and The Bundanon Trust. Douglas is the recipient of numerous Australia Council Grants and is the inaugural recipient of the 2017 CreatNSW Artist with Disability Fellowship. He has exhibited in Australia, UK, Germany and Spain and his work has been acquired into notable private and public collections. He is represented by Chalkhorse gallery in Sydney.
Natalie Aylward is an artist based in Sydney. They graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor Degree in Creative Arts in 2008. They have been involved in Artist Run Spaces in Sydney & Newcastle, curating, & exhibiting in group shows. Their work explores themes of inner/outer worlds, epistemological pluralism, & the ontology of embodiment & sickness.
Jesse Rye is an interdisciplinary artist based in Sydney, Australia. His practice investigates negotiation of daily life; phenomenology, affect and disability. He works primarily with print, electronic media, painting and the sonic. Jesse Rye’s work seeks to employ differing abilities as new modalities of perceiving, and a research tool for the human condition.
Grant Gronewold is a 29 year old musician and visual artist from Melbourne. Grant’s story is as follows: He grew up sick and poor in America, a terrible place to grow up sick and poor. As is typical to the US, Grant was constantly denied medical care. In 1998, Grant, his little brother and his mother fled to Australia with what little money they had. Eight years later, he dropped out of high school to make music and art and he’s been doing it ever since. Grants illness informs his visual practice, his music and his entire worldview. Chrome Halo, his latest album, is about disablity and the way that any body that is deemed ‘unhealthy’ is systematically denigrated and disrespected.
Steph Tsimbourlas is a multi-disciplinary artist from Sydney, Australia. Her work is often practice driven, using a diverse range of mediums such as video, ceramics, textiles and installation to explore ideas around the ~ multiplicity of identity ~ and lived experiences.
Her most recent works dwell on experiences of living with a chronic illness; integrating the healing process involved with clay and her compulsion to use instagram/memes/internet culture as means of escapism.
Sissi Reagan (fka Zsa Zsa LaFine) is a sydney based multi media artist. In her work uses hyper reality as a tool to explore areas of the human condition such as femininity, self image, health, fear, love, trauma, escapism and pain. She creates kind of living film stills of extreme proportion that illustrate the absurdity of introspection.
Willurai Kirkbright is a Wiradjuri Artist, Curator and facilitator who lives in Sydney and has tribal roots in Northern NSW. Kirkbright established, ran and curated 4 different art spaces in Sydney and has been involved in community work involving art as a tool for social change. Her practice is well regarding in the Sydney and Melbourne GBLTQ community. The same can be said for her work within the Aboriginal Community.
She opened her first art space PLUMP GALLERY in 2010 on Enmore rd, Enmore Sydney, then established and ran a warehouse studio space in Marrickville. After this she launched an art space in Sydenham that has now moved to Summer Hill under the new name, Gallery Aurora and Studios.
She believes in Art as activism and change through breaking conventions as well as community engagement. Primarily focusing on exhibiting contemporary art but often juxtaposes traditional and modern art forms as well as notions of outsider art/craft. Always pushing to expand the idea of what art can be. Kirkbright focuses on educating and empowering disadvantaged minorities and Aboriginal people. Issues of identity, gender, colonialism, belonging and displacement at the heart of Willurai’s practise both as an Artist and as a Curator.
Okapi Neon is a multi-disciplinary artist and curator currently based in Sydney. Their practice broadly encompasses curating community events, dance parties, life drawing classes and exhibitions as well as working sculpturally with sound, installation, electronic media and ceramics. Their practice seeks to explore intimacy and vulnerability as a way to create human connection and community and also their own personal experiences of identity, body and disability.
Opening night performances will take place in the courtyard from Sissi Reagan (6–8pm) and Grant Gronewold (7.30–8pm).