Accessibility Auditing, a workshop by Carmen Papalia took place yesterday in the B.R.A. (see below for a description of the B.R.A.). Carmen showed us some of his previous projects including the Blind Field Shuttle Walking Tour. Carmen led this project with a group of people who walked with their eyes closed throughout the city of Portland. As part of Carmen’s residency, he re-enacted this accessibility awareness exercise in Sligo.
We got to experience this walking tour for ourselves Sligo style in The Model’s gallery space!
Paired up, we took turns to provide an audio description of the artwork and gallery surroundings to our partner whose eyes were kept shut throughout the experience. As someone who is profoundly deaf, the short experience of walking around the galleries with no vision was exciting as much as it was nerve-racking. With Carmen as my guide, I focused on two things: his voice and what my feet were doing. Without the aid of lip-reading in the noisy environment, focusing on hearing alone proved to be difficult. When I was unsure of what I’d heard Carmen say, feeling the floor beneath my feet confirmed his description. Tuning into other things such as the speed at which Carmen walked told me there was something in the pathway; feeling heat on my legs told me we were in the sunny atrium; the feeling of the floor gave me clues to which gallery we were in.
For those of us who took part in the workshop, we then compared our experiences of being guided. We agreed that even though we were familiar with the building, issues of trust arose. I can only imagine how it must have been taking part in the Blind Field Shuttle Walk around the city of Portland!
Carmen and Kristen Lantz are here in the BRA for the rest of the week conducting a series of workshops. Feel free to visit them and ask about their work.
The Bureau of Radical Accessibility (B.R.A.) is a site-specific intervention in The Model foyer area. Staffed by Model employees and artists-in-residence, the B.R.A. is set up in direct defiance to the closed-off office spaces in order to meet, hold discussions and conduct interviews with the public, colleagues and others.