The gatekeepers are losing their hold.
I don’t think I’m old but I’m old enough to be able to say that.
I won’t deny the gatekeepers are still there, but my sense is that they’re not as powerful as they were in say 1997, when I first crossed the floor of a lecture hall at OCAD to take a seat at one of the many fold up tables arranged neatly in rows. I was having my portfolio of paintings assessed by one of their (yes, white male) faculty members – the harbinger of admission or rejection.
That day came to my mind a decade later when I found myself in line at an exclusive club in Lisbon – incognito in a blue velvet dress. The bouncer stopped me at the door and took one long minute to look me over head to toe before allowing me through.
That feeling that comes from being allowed “in”, from being attractive enough, able enough, cool enough, woke enough, skillful or talented enough to be “admissible” is powerful and I’ve spent a lot of my time chasing or running away from that feeling.
It’s dawned on me, this culture of who does and doesn’t get “in” is unravelling thanks to Deaf and disabled artists who have been steadily forming our own spaces, our own voices and determining for ourselves what it means to be “in”. The experimentation of new digital cultural practices as a result of the pandemic is only speeding up this unravelling process.
Sometimes I think the word “access” is so overused, that thing happens when you stare at a word for so long it starts to lose its meaning. It’s this legacy of activism in the arts and a shifting culture, where I find that the word takes shape again.
We want to hear from you! How does the word “access” take shape for you? And, how has it changed this last year? What cultural practices have you seen change that you hope to stick around in a post-COVID world?
We’re working on a digital collage with Bodies in Translation to share your reflections! Your contribution can be in the form of a story, poem, artwork, image/video or audio or even just a quick thought in an email!
Send us your reflection by replying to this email or contribute anonymously online. PS. EVERYONE (you, yes, you) can contribute!
We can’t wait to hear from you!