This week I received news that my review of Ine Gever’s book Difference on Display: Diversity in Art, Science and Society has just been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies (vol 6.3).
Here’s the opening gambit:
In 2002 Tom Shakespeare and Nick Watson declared disability to be the “quintessential postmodern concept”; it defies classification because it is “so complex, so variable, so contingent, so situated” (19). Difference on Display: Diversity in Art, Science and Society exalts this postmodern view, offering the reader a complex and varied response to the shifting frontier between disabled and non-disabled. The book was devised to accompany Niet Normaal: Difference on Display, an exhibition of new and existing artworks by international and contemporary disabled and non-disabled artists, designers, film-makers, and their collaborators. Niet Normaal was conceived in the Netherlands, originally exhibiting in Amsterdam. The exhibition came to the UK in Liverpool as part of the DaDa Fest and the Olympic Games Cultural Programme for London 2012. The result is a book that is part exhibition catalogue and part visual treatise on the ambiguity of the human condition in high modernity. Importantly, the book is also an artefact, a physical object evidencing a world at the margins of media and discourses. As Editor-in-Chief, the activist and curator Ine Gevers states that the artworks depicted express a “visual and non-discursive discourse” (24). This “non-discursive discourse” identifies the process of manifesting what is unsaid in its “brute being” (Foucault 131). Accordingly, diverse cultural products that examine normalcy are gathered to establish a new perspective on the self in society. In this way, Difference on Display asks “what is normal” and “who decides this” from a variety of angles, supplying a welcome resource to viewers/readers across disability studies and related disciplines…
The article is available to academic readers who are registered with Athens. However, for wider audiences the paper is not currently available. In the short term, a substantial extract is available on the articles page in lieu of an abstract.
In the longer term, I will be making a pre-edited draft version available via Pure, the new King’s College London repository. As King’s is currently testing Pure, contents are not externally available, however as soon as this position changes, I will upload my copy to the repository. Ultimately, this will mean that all readers can access an earlier version of the review (prior to editorial input and revisions) in keeping with the Journal’s copyright. I’ll be sure to post here as soon as this version becomes available!
In the meantime, I highly recommend you check out:
- Niet Normaal: Difference on Display
This exhibition website features an “Are you Normal?” activity amongst images, news and some excellent resources.
- Niet Normaal at DaDaFest
A free audio described tour of the exhibition is available to listen to or download via the DaDaFest webpages. The Audio Description has been supplied by Mind’s Eye.
- Difference on Display: Diversity in Art, Science and Society
This is the book itself. It covers the exhibition alongside other content including essays and polemic. It’s a great illustrated read and sourcebook. Visit your library, lobby them to purchase a copy, or get your own copy. In the UK, you can procure via Waterstone’s Marketplace or Amazon.
Full reference: Lewthwaite, S. (2012) Review: Ine Gevers, “Difference on Display: Diversity in Art, Science and Society”. Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. Vol 6. Issue 3. pp. 348 – 351.