Artist Leah Clements is undertaking a residency at the Serpentine, where she is focusing on issues of access and disability with an artist-led approach.
About the Residency
The General Ecology artist in residency programme was created by Serpentine to explore notions of artist-led systems of change, ecological artistic practices and forms of communicating with the public.
This residency brings such commitments into the fabric of the organisation as an internal learning process and is guided by the following questions: How can a residency organise itself around the adjustments and desires of the artist? How can ecology offer strategies for inclusion, transformation and growth?
During Leah Clements’ residency, she worked with Serpentine to develop artist-driven strategies and tools in the fields of access, inclusion and disability.
Below, you can read about Clements’ residency and Crip Kin, nine sick/crip/disabled/D/deaf collaborators, artists, writers, and activists whose work inspires Clements.
About the artist
Leah Clements is an artist based in London whose practice spans film, performance, writing, installation, and other media. Her work is concerned with the relationship between the psychological, emotional, and physical, often through personal accounts of unusual or hard-to- articulate experiences. Her work also focuses on sickness/cripness/disability in art, in critical and practical ways. In March 2019, Clements launched Access Docs for Artists: an online resource made in collaboration with Lizzy Rose and Alice Hattrick to help disabled artists create and use access documents.
Clements’ solo show The Siren of the Deep will open at Eastside Projects in May 2021.
Previous exhibitions, events, and commissions include (2020): ‘Other Rooms’ (co-curator with Rupert), group show at the Artists’ Association Gallery, Vilnius; ‘A sort of ‘no’ feeling’, talk with Clay AD, La Casa Encendida, Madrid; ‘Hyperbaric’, performance as part of ‘Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy’, Somerset House Studios, redeveloped as a Lithuanian iteration as part of ‘Other Rooms’. (2019): ‘ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety’, Science Gallery London; ‘Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary Exhibition’, Baltic39, Newcastle; ‘On Allyship’, ICA, London. (2018): Artist residency, Wysing Arts Centre; Artist residency, Rupert, Vilnius. (2017): HereNow Art+Technology Residency, Space, London. (2016): ‘we felt the presence of someone else’, Jupiter Woods, London. (2015): ‘ Beside’, live work, Chisenhale Gallery; ‘you promised me poems’ solo show, Vitrine, London.
“This is a collection of artworks, Instagram feeds, writing, and other work by some of the many sick/crip/disabled/D/deaf artists, writers, and activists whose work has been important to me. It includes projects I’ve worked on with some of these people collaboratively. This could be filled to the brim but to avoid overwhelm here are just a few: from those I admire from afar, to my crip fam.” – Leah Clements
Support System (for Park, Tina, and Bob) | Carolyn Lazard
“Carolyn Lazard is a US based artist whose wonderful artwork, writing, and practical access work (including Accessibility in the Arts: A Promise and a Practice) has been influential to many. I feel very lucky to have been able to learn from Carolyn at some of the moments I’ve been asking the most questions about my practice. Everyone should absorb as much of Carolyn’s work as possible, but here I wanted to highlight their ephemeral, tender artwork Support System (for Park, Tina, and Bob). It’s a durational piece addressing the performance of convalescence, disabled sociality, collaborative art practice, and the transactional nature of emotional labor. Support System (for Park, Tina, and Bob) is performed over the course of a day, from 9 am to 9 pm. Visitors are invited to sign up for a 30 minutes slot for a one-on-one performance with the artist who spends the day in bed. The cost of admission is one bouquet of flowers.” To read more about this project click here.
In My Language (2007) | Mel Baggs
“This short film by American autistic and non-binary blogger Mel Baggs has been viewed over a million times. In it, Baggs interacts with objects in their home and uses these as well as their body and voice to make noises and gestures. They describe this as their ‘native language’, and go on to say:’
Many people have assumed that when I talk about this being my language, that means that each part of the video must have a particular symbolic message within it designed for the human mind to interpret. But my language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment. – Mel Baggs.
“Their work such as this around non-speaking communication continues to be incredibly influential after their death in April 2020, as does their impact on autistic culture and activism.” To read more about this project click here.
Notes to Other Selves | Leah Clements, Susanna Davies-Crook, Alice Hattrick, & Sophie Hoyle
“I’ve worked with Susanna, Alice and Sophie each on a lot of different projects, so forming this group around Almanac Projects’ programme #almanaccare felt like an immediately supportive environment to create for ourselves, each other, and our work at a time we needed it (2020!). We met on zoom over several months and shared notes, thoughts, and bits of texts we’d been writing in a shared google doc, which formed a multi-authored prismatic refraction of embodiment, sickness, diagnosis, crip-time, grief and queerness. Taking up the theme of care, the support structure we formed created this text as a byproduct.” To read more about the project click here.
Black Disabled Lives Matter | @blackdisabledlivesmatter
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Image credit: from the Black Disabled Lives Matter Instagram account, Designed by @matherao for @inthistogether_la. Image Description: A pinky tinted background of an aloe plant, with pink and yellow text layered on top that says: black disabled lives matter
“Black Disabled Lives Matter’s founder Jermaine Greaves launched this Instagram account in August 2020, alongside organising Black Disabled Lives Matter rallies and marches in the US. The account and the organisation’s activities do the important work of highlighting the intersectional struggle against violence and oppression of Black disabled people.” Follow @blackdisabledlivesmatter on Instagram for more information.
The Open Door | Johanna Hedva & Leah Clements
“If you don’t already know Johanna Hedva’s work you’re in for a treat when you start to explore it. It is: magic, doom-metal, Korean shamanism, ancient Greekness, sick/crip divadom, and highly canonical text. Johanna read my astrological chart in January 2020. This is an extract from the audio recording (with a written transcription). Listen or read for stuff on Saturn, psychic porousness, building boundaries, and trying to cope with this reality while you have a foot in another.” Read more about The Open Door.
Sanitorium | Abi Palmer
“Abi Palmer is an artist and writer whose work is always putting up a joyous fight against ableism. Her creative non-fiction book Sanitorium is a beautiful, poetic series of snapshots that slip between a luxury thermal water based rehabilitation facility in Budapest, an inflatable and kind of gammy blue bathtub in London, and out-of-body experiences. The lemon tree made me cry. When you read it you’ll know what I mean. This short film with an extract from Sanatorium read aloud by Abi was made by filmmaker and architectural historian Anna Ulrikke Andersen.” Read more about Sanitorium and view the video here.
Lizzy Rose | @lizzyrosequartz
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Image Description: A piece of medical equipment, perhaps a drip stand, in front of a window with a view of a packed beach and blue sky in Margate.
“Lizzy Rose is an artist based in Margate whose work often refers to her autoimmune condition Crohns disease in thinking about the politics of the body, chronic illness communities online and the culture surrounding them, narrative storytelling, and humour. We developed Access Docs for Artists together with Alice Hattrick after a residency at Wysing Arts Centre in 2018, and I feel very lucky to have Lizzy in my life. Her hilarious, painful, and scathingly honest Instagram feed is a really important part of the dissemination of her work and life. She doesn’t shy away from heavy medical and ableist realities but, or maybe and, her feed is seriously a joy to follow.” Follow @lizzyrosequartz on Instagram for more information.
Structures of Care | Romily Alice Walden
“Berlin based artist Romily Alice Walden’s work is concerned with physicality and its interplay with other social categorisations and power differentials. At the core of their practice is an interrogation of embodiment under late stage capitalism. There’s a recognition and validation of experience in Romily’s work (as well as in our personal relationship), which points to mutual interdependencies, and draws out the communal nature of care. Their practice includes practical disability related work (such as A Primer on Working With Disabled Group Members for Feminist / Activist Groups and Organisations), but here I want to focus on the delicate, affective artwork Structures of Care. It is a six-channel video artwork filmed in analogue, of six individual wooden structures on fire. Each sculpture is built for someone in Walden’s life who is part of their support structure, and is dedicated to them through a ritual of setting the object aflame and saying a prayer. This work is made with and points to tenderness and care, produced through the gentle aesthetic pleasure of something burning on 16mm film.” Read more about Structures of Care here.
On Allyship | Lela Kogbara & David Ruebain
“In 2019 I invited activists David and Lela to publicly share a ten-year long conversation they’d been having on allyship, at an event at the ICA. The conversation followed and responded to the audio (and BSL signed) artwork ‘Truth Dare, Double-Dare’ by Donald Rodney and Rose Finn-Kelcey. Lela and David cover a lot of ground, and I’m still mulling over a lot of what they said. Listening back after the past year-and-a-half’s events also gives new context to everything they raised, and it’s still making me think.” Read more about On Allyship here.