Art Activism: Bedding Out

Liz Crow, artist and activist, is starting a revolution from her bed.

BEDDING OUT emerges from the current welfare benefits overhaul, which threatens many with poverty and a propagandist campaign that has seen disability hate crime leap by 50%.

“I wear a public self that is energetic, dynamic and happening,” explains artist-activist Liz Crow. “I am also ill and spend much of life in bed. The private self is neither beautiful nor grownup, it does not win friends or accolades and I conceal it carefully.

“But for me, along with thousands more, this new system of benefits demands a reversal: my public self implies I don’t need support and must be denied, whilst my private self must be paraded as justification for the state’s support. For months, I have lain low for fear of being penalised, but the performer is beginning to re-emerge. Instead of letting fear determine who I am, I’d rather stare it in the face.” BEDDING OUT is a performance in which I take my private self and make it public, something I have not done in over 30 years. On this stage, for a period of 48 hours, I am performing the other side of my fractured self, my bed-life. Since the public me is so carefully constructed, this will be a kind of un-performing of my self.

“I want to show that what many people see as contradiction – what they call ‘fraud’ – is only the complexity of real life. This is not a work of tragedy, but of in/visibility and complication; a chance to perform my self without façade.”

Join her live over the next 48 hours!

3 thoughts on “Art Activism: Bedding Out

  1. Nearly a year after the 2012 Olympic games, the #beddingout provides an interesting paradox instead of the hypermobile image of bodies in motion. The superhuman rhetoric is exploited and conflated with the complicated notion of overcoming disability. Can this be read as a reactionary performance? Foregrounding pain, which draws parallels with chronic illness is a precarious line to roll/walk down. Inviting an audience of participants to engage in conversation around illnesses, creates as Liz Crow writes, a “collective resistance”, which proves to be a fundamental mechanism to push back on derogatory propaganda.

    Sharing private narratives securely place #beddingout at the intersection of feminist collaboration, technology, art, and activism. As Liz Crow writes: “The private self is neither beautiful nor grownup, it does not win friends or accolades and I conceal it carefully.” Turning the most private space into a public forum, draws attention to the intimate support that is needed quite often. People with disabilities require one-to-one support from their assistants/caregivers, their bed becomes a sacred place. As the author writes in her own personal blog, “tweet it, blog it, talk it, live it”, lends itself to formulate a feminist space, to create and share narratives around disability and chronic pain. The current fiscal crisis demands the disabled body to display their chronic condition on a public platform. Yet the platform of Twitter has allowed individuals to share their stories, controlling their own representation – a chance to perform my self without facade. I’m left wondering, in a similar vein to Liz Crow, how does one un-perform the notion of self, especially under the current welfare reform.

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