"I find myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable under the stern stare of the two assessors in front of me." - Hannah experiences Cells: A Body of Work


I find myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable under the stern stare of the two assessors in front of me. 

To deal with the awkwardness I keep telling myself this is just a performance and of no real significance but that is where I am entirely wrong.

I recently attended Proud and Loud Arts performance entitled “Cells - A Body of Work” hosted at the Whitworth Gallery. Having met with this group recently I was excited to see what they had been working on. As I walked into the gallery I was met with the first of many surprises as S Club 7 was pumping out of an upstairs room. Intrigued by this I made my way up the staircase to find a corpse in a casket and a disco the performance entitled “Space Adex” was referenced in the guide as “I’ve been dying for years. We’re all dying. It’s a funeral for everyone.” Those that were in the gallery were encouraged to join the disco whilst the DJ and Mourner danced, cried, laughed and mourned. 

As I made my way through the gallery encountering the performances it felt so significant there was so much that this group had to say.  This work was created in response to the 2015 Manchester Evening News report describing 140% rise in reported hate crime against people with disabilities each performance told its own story of pressures, assumptions and challenges.  Safety, body pressure, bullying, acceptance are just a few of the themes covered.

A stand out piece for me was the Potentially Intolerant Persons Assessment (PIP) I was asked a series of personal and at times ambiguous questions by 2 unresponsive assessors who whilst recording my every word and gesture refused to enter into any dialogue other than that which was scripted.  It was a thoroughly uncomfortable experience that was very thought provoking. 

It was humbling, uncomfortable and in some cases raised more questions than it answered.  But I just wish to say congratulations to all the artists involved and thank you for sharing this thought-provoking work with us.  

Proud & Loud Arts, established in 2000, is a user-led performing arts charity for people living with a disability in Salford and Manchester. They received funding from NHS Salford CCG Impact Fund to deliver workshops for Salford residents living with a disability with the purpose to raise confidence, self-expression and social connection.

Salford CVS
Hannah Barton, Impact Evaluation Worker

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