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This exhibition by artists with disability is 'Fully Sick'

By Ayebatonye Abrakasa

Welcome to the 49th guest blog post of Time Out Sydney's 52 Weeks of #SydCulture 2017 challenge! November’s culture selector is Ayebatonye Abrakasa: DJ, event producer, curator, director – and founder of House of Ayebatonye. Every week in November, Ayebatonye will be telling us what she loved the week before. Think of it as your recommendation, from someone who sees a helluva lot of arts and culture. Over to her.

I recently caught the last week of the fantastic group show, Fully Sick at Gallery Aurora in Summer Hill. Fully Sick was a group exhibition that showcased the work of artists living with chronic illness, pain and disability. The artists pulled “back the hospital curtain to reveal their intimate and vulnerable lived experiences and complex relationships to their bodies, their identities and the outside world.” (That's from the Facebook event.)

According to statistics there are 9% of recorded working artists with disability, yet within our society they are not often represented. Fully Sick facilitated a space where the artists could use their art as a vehicle to look at the intersectionality of multiple marginalised identities, disability and accessibility advocacy. Through this exhibition, which featured a diverse range of artists, a platform existed for “experiences that are often silenced”. Aboriginal representation was of significant importance in this exhibition. Aboriginal people live with the highest mortality rate in this country and face racism and stigma in the medical system on multiple devastating levels

When living within a society that favours the dominant culture (white, cisgender, able-bodied and hetero) it can be quite the challenge creating space, being visible and heard. Systemic and institutional ableism have resulted in people with disabilities being treated as second class citizens, “othered” or as victims of their disabilities rather than victims of a broken system. Fully Sick challenged preconceived notions of what disability and illness looked like and empowered the artist by using representation to let the amazing artists showing tell their own stories rather than have them told through an ableist and often cringeworthy lens.

Photograph: Supplied

Gallery Aurora is a newly established inclusive artist run initative (ARI) located in Summer Hill.  Directed by Willarui Kirkbright, Khadija Aden Ali and Louise Dwy the aim of the ARI is to support local artists/creatives through solo & group exhibitions, workshops and community events. I would highly recommend a visit to their gallery and studios and show support to local artists who continue to instigate beautiful change through creative means.

The artists in Fully Sick are Djon Mundine, John A Douglas, Natalie Aylward, Willurai Kirkbrigh, Jesse Rye, Grant Gronewold, Steph Tsimbourlas and Sissi Reagan.

While you’re here, check our 52 Weeks of #SydCulture challenge, and let us know what you're seeing/loving on Instagram via the hashtag #SydCulture.

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