Valentina Desideri (Amsterdam)

Pepe Espaliú (Córdoba 1955-1993)

Ben Gould (NYC)

Stuart Horodner (Lexington)

Carolyn Lazard (Philadelphia)

Jaimes Mayhew (Baltimore)

Park McArthur (NYC)

Lynne McCabe (Houston) 

Carmen Papalia (Vancouver)

Harriet Sanderson (Seattle)

Sarah Sudhoff (Houston)

Constantina Zavitsanos (Brooklyn)


The exhibition Care, A Performance uses choreography as a lens to think through mobility, disability, debility, illness and institutional access in work made by artists with disabilities. The exhibition expands ideas of physical mobility to include navigating social space, political forums and positing how the disabled body might maneuver differently through institutions that are themselves disabling.

One group of artists makes work that speaks to the ways in which illness is social—not strictly individual—and the interdependencies we build while forming support networks. Stuart Horodner’s Dependency Project was conceptualized in response to Horodner’s then-role of caregiver for his aging grandfather. This endurance performance became an exercise in knowing one’s needs and articulating them to another—asking for and receiving help from friends and strangers for acts often taken for granted—including going to the bathroom, eating, bathing and moving through the world. Park McArthur’s Carried and Held is a list of over 250 people that acknowledges family, friends, nurses and strangers who have physically carried the artist during her daily maneuvering. Zatvisanos & McArthur’s Score for Before is a set of instructions for accompanying a person who navigates the world in a wheelchair. Pepe Espaliú’s performance Carrying, which occurred shortly before his death, involves friends who carried the artist as a physical reality and a symbol of support.

Another group of artists works with the objects that help us move through the world. Constantina Zavitsanos’s Specific Objects riffs on Judd’s essay of the same name, presenting handrails used to make bathrooms more accessible in an affectation of the Minimalist's stacked pieces. Sarah Sudhoff’s photographs of the metal implants left behind after a body has been cremated speaks to the residual histories of these objects and highlight the unique markings left on its surface by both the body and the cremation process. Precarity is a theme of Tilt, a video/sculptural performance by the late Harriet Sanderson, in which the four legs of a chair are parlously balanced, propped up by four walking canes. Carmen Papalia’s Long Cane is a walking cane for the blind adapted into a performance object eight times the length of a standard-issue cane. Measuring 30 feet long, Papalia posits the distance  one must be from another to verbally ask for help.  Lynne McCabe’s Building a platform to support my weight is a set of instructions written by fellow artists that attempts to guide McCabe in the re-creation of a platform with a consideration of how Rheumatoid Arthritis has changed her mobility.

In his video performance, Ben Gould transforms the spasms caused by his Tourette’s Syndrome into dance and exercise. Developed through her dance practice, Valentina Desideri’s Fake Therapy Cards engage visitors in a game of “curing” each other through directives that encourage presence between people. Carolyn Lieba Francois-Lazard navigates her maneuverings through bureaucracies of care, including a video about the tedium of being on hold with an insurance company and custom-tailored reading materials for the waiting room. Finally, in a series of videos, Jaimes Mayhew and curator Risa Puleo perform quack healing therapies including Primal Screaming to embody ideas of care in the artist/curator relationship. The word “curator,” comes from the Latin “to care for,” and historically has directed that care to objects held within a museum collection. In the works included here, simple acts become the object—and objective—activating the current national debate about health care driven by empathy and personal endurance.



San Antonio native Risa Puleo is an independent curator and critic. She is currently working on exhibitions that will be presented at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha; Charlotte Street Foundation; Kansas City, ArtPace, San Antonio, and the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York City. Puleo holds Master’s degrees from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and Hunter College’s art history program. She has written for Art in AmericaArt Papers, Art 21, Asia Art Pacific,, Modern Painters and other publications. She is currently the inaugural curator-in-residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha.

Image: Stuart Horodner, Dependency Project, 1985; documentation of performance

Rivard Report

View Next Exhibition

View Previous Exhibition