Posted By Sandra Alland


I remember a huge debate in beginner-level Spanish during my Popular Culture class at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico -- about a blind photographer who was exhibiting there at the time (uh... around 1999). Could a blind person "take credit" for photos they couldn't see? Since photography is a "visual" art, blind people should naturally be excluded. Etc. Bla bla bla.

I also remember: a) realizing that we were never presented with information about artists with disabilities back at school in Canada (thanks Javier the Mexican Supertutor!) and; b) trying to think of the Spanish word for Shut up you able-ist Canadian wankers...

Anyway, Rosita McKenzie is a blind photographer who worked with six other visually impaired people to create Revealed, currently showing at North Edinburgh Arts Centre. I didn't love that the show was really difficult to get to and super-difficult to find, even for someone who can see perfectly well. I also didn't love that they had closed 3 hours early and started cleaning the floors with superbleach because they assumed no one would come on a sunny Friday. I *did* love that they let us in (even though the superbleach almost made me pass out).

It's odd with blindness... seeing folk are suspicious. How come you're looking at me if you're blind? Why does it seem like you can see where you're going? Well, that's because "blind" doesn't always mean completely blind, in fact many legally blind people have times of day, or certain ways, of seeing things. I've heard stories about blind folk being questioned about taking their canes into Edinburgh museums because security guards decided they were "faking"! (and their canes could be used as weapons to attack the displays?)

Anyway, this group is made up of people with various kinds of blindness, and various ways of seeing (or visually imagining) the world around them. My favourite photos were by Andreas Gartner, for me they were the most poetic.

I also liked the recordings by Rachel O'Connor and Jules Rawlinson, though they were a bit hard to hear and only one speaker had a seat next to it and you have to run from one speaker to the other (at opposite ends of the room, which is a bit hard on a fibro-gal). Perhaps most interesting of all were Camilla Adams's tactile interpretations of the photos. Adams worked closely with each artist to create touch-interpretations of the photos. It's a whole new way of  "looking" at art, one I'm curious to feel more of.

Anyway, this show is well worth the trip past Telford College into the boarded-up buildings of Pilton.



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