Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's Me, Is It You?

Contacting Toronto is an annual photography exhibition on the Onestop network of over 270 TTC screens. It offers artists and photographers an audience of 1.3 million people a day in over 50 stations. One of the many artists featured is Holly Norris and her photographs of a model with a disability, in an politicized take on contemporary fashion advertising.

'American Able'
intends to, through spoof, reveal the ways in which women with disabilities are invisibilized in advertising and mass media. I chose American Apparel not just for their notable style, but also for their claims that many of their models are just ‘every day’ women who are employees, friends and fans of the company. However, these women fit particular body types. Their campaigns are highly sexualized and feature women who are generally thin, and who appear to be able-bodied. Women with disabilities go unrepresented, not only in American Apparel advertising, but also in most of popular culture. Rarely, if ever, are women with disabilities portrayed in anything other than an asexual manner, for ‘disabled’ bodies are largely perceived as ‘undesirable.’ In a society where sexuality is created and performed over and over within popular culture, the invisibility of women with disabilities in many ways denies them the right to sexuality, particularly within a public context.

Too often, the pervasive influence of imagery in mass media goes unexamined, consumed en masse by the public. However, this imagery has real, oppressive effects on people who are continuously ‘othered’ by society. The model, Jes Sachse, and I intend to reveal these stories by placing her in a position where women with disabilities are typically excluded.

More details about the group show can be found here: http:/​/​www.​contactingtoronto.​ca

Jes Sachse has a brilliant CONTACT show on now called "The Justice League of Gawkamerica" at The Junction in Toronto.

Additional model credits go to Dana Levine.

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada