Pelenakeke Brown is an interdisciplinary Samoan/Pākehā artist. Her practice spans visual art, writing, and performance. The prints of grasp + release, two of which are shown here, were created after she received her medical file in 2018. Brown describes these works as “fragments of [her] excavation process.” She says, “Requesting this information about myself felt subversive. I created dance scores from my file to access the text. Break into it. Take ownership of its words. Words which were mostly foreign, cold medical terms with occasional surprising glimpses of the humans involved, the little girl and her (my) beautiful mother and the difficult journey she had.” Interventions to alleviate, or cure, disabilities are common, sometimes necessary and helpful, but sometimes harmful. In grasp + release Brown reclaims both her body and the texts written about her body. The images shown here are two of the series.
About This Site
A Picture of Health: Jo Spence, a Politics of Disability and Illness is a multi-pronged project curated by Kenny Fries and Elisabeth Frost.
In 1986 the British artist, educator, and activist Jo Spence (1934-1992) described the question fundamental to her work: “how to represent a body in crisis.” Spence’s work reveals powerful political and artistic responses to the experience of inhabiting such a body and is as timely as ever. This website places her work in the context of the lived experience of chronic illness and of contemporary Disability Arts.