Adelaide Festival Review: Yucky

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, David Jobling, reviews the group exhibition, Yucky, for Adelaide Festival 2024.

Yucky presents art created by artists living with a disability and explores their experiences of being disabled in a world where they are often perceived as “Yucky” inside the gaze of abled people. Each of the works are personal interpretations of a lived experience, and although they are wildly different pieces of art they inevitably reveal universal truths experienced by all people living with a disability.

Some people may pass over the opportunity to visit this exhibition because they are internally programmed to immediately avoid something that deals with disability.

They will flip the page in the Adelaide Festival Guide saying to themselves, “Oh, that’s yucky,” which is the easiest knee-jerk reaction to exposing themselves to anything that may challenge their own comfort. The same people are quite likely to visit the Art Gallery of South Australia and walk past the Berlinde De Bruyckere sculpture ‘We are all flesh’ [the sculpture of two full sized horse carcasses hanging from the ceiling] and while they may still react the same way, at least they’ve seen it and given the artist some chance to reach them.

I offer these two examples because anything framed in the space of ‘disability’ has traditionally been hidden away, out of view, so as not to disturb the general public. Here at ACE the general public are more than likely to discover artists living with disability have wonderful insights and expose them with depth and great joy.

There is a lot of humour to be found in the extremely accessible work of Finnegan Shannon which invites you to sit down, or the kinky undertones of Sophie Cassar’s work ‘Clinic of the Gaze’ exposing abasiophilia.

There are darker motifs arising from the clinically severed hands of babies in Elizabeth Reed’s complex response to research into deafness that overlooks deaf scholars.

Collectively we are a community adept at dodging and weaving our way around, seeking to preserve a personal cocoon of sanctuary around ourselves. It is so easy for us to cast our gaze away from things we don’t like or things we think we don’t like, yet haven’t even tested. This exhibition not only casts a light into the pitch around disability, it unsurprisingly illuminates our experiences and acts as something of a bridge spanning the gulf between us.

Image: “Do you want us here or not” (2023) by Finnegan Shannon and Sam Peterson, author supplied


Until Saturday 4th of May

ACE Gallery, Adelaide

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