Liz Crow Bed's In at Salisbury Arts Centre to talk about disempowerment and discrimination / 12 April 2013
You would expect that a symposium on Disability Art as Activism will centre around the role that the arts play in addressing political issues. There is still time to get involved in disabled artist Liz Crow's live marathon public sleepover taking place in Salisbury Arts Centre.
Liz takes centre stage in a large bed. Her purpose is to talk about what bed-life means for us as disabled people. She highlights the contradiction between the demands of the Benefits Agencies in making you present yourself as the worst you can be in order to qualify for benefits and the demands of being an artist to be the best you can be in order to win commissions, apply for funding etc.
The most striking comment Liz made during the symposium was a reference to her daughter's observation that there is a strong parallel between how disabled people are being treated and how witches were treated in the 17th century. If when you were ducked in water you drowned it meant you weren't a witch. If somehow you survived being held under water, you were a witch and were killed anyway.
This is so similar to the situation for far too many disabled people, literally fighting for life in a situation where making demands for allowances to be made for impairments means being told that because you are capable you don't need support. If you don't make demands for support you will die anyway. An average of 32 people per week are dying. At the same time the media report that 75 per cent of disabled people are 'faking it' and the DWP report that the instance of fraud is 0.3 per cent. Given these figures it's no wonder that instances of disability hate crime are on the rise.
As an artistic icon, bed-life is so often associated with either sex or death, with little middle ground. To my knowledge bed-life has been used only once before as a political statement in the peace protests of John and Yoko.
It's a somewhat spooky phenomenon to put yourself on display in bed in a large converted church. But that is exactly what Liz is doing. She's taking her bed to work in order to have conversations about disempowerment and isolation. The live performance is being streamed at www.roaring-girl.co.uk/
You can join the conversations now taking place via twitter using the hashtags #beddingout #truefacts #truestories and @RGPLizCrow