The Way Out - The Disabled Avant-garde



Can art and irony achieve what mainstream politics never has and give the disability movement its own revolution?

Disability has never had its revolutionary moment: no Suffrage, Stonewall or Watts Riots.

Rather it's been perceived as the poor relation of civil rights, last on the agitation pecking order.

Performance artist Aaron Williamson (who is profoundly deaf) presents a feature exploring whether performing arts practice can do what political agitation never has - radicalize, even revolutionise, mainstream public perceptions of disability.

Williamson's collective, the (probably ironically named) 'Disabled Avant-Garde' has performed cabaret, stand-up, played live, staged political pranks, and even made short films depicting a world in which a violent, insurrectionary gang of 'disability terrorists' has brought the government to its knees à la Baader Meinhof/ Angry Brigade - a sort of missing film about an absent revolution.

These artists, as well as affiliate organizations like 15mm Films, set out to challenge popular perceptions of disabled people as well as explore disabled artists' own physical differences from the norm.

This feature will look at their work in contrast to mainstream public thinking on disability (eg.the Equality and Human Rights Commission) and ask whether the radical possibilities opened up by disability politics have been co-opted by endless subsidy and 'minority' box ticking.

It will also explore whether this is the one remaining area of identity politics where art still has the edge.

Featuring interview, audio and sound art from the 'Disabled Avant-Garde'.

Presenter: Aaron Williamson

Producer: Simon Hollis

A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4.