Aaron Williamson

Tuesday, November 05, 6:00 p.m.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium
230 S. Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL
United States

Aaron Williamson is a British multidisciplinary artist and writer. Working mainly in performance and video, Williamson describes his work as being informed by his experience of becoming deaf. Williamson engages with disability politic, highlighting issues of access and exclusion, but in a humorous or absurd manner; revealing, playing up to, and skewing social attitudes toward disability. Created with a DIY sensibility, Williamson’s works are usually devised to uniquely consider and respond to a given situation. Informed by research, he creates works almost immediately prior to their public presentation, focusing on concept and situations he encounters, rather than a process of rehearsal that exhibits traditional artistic techniques. He has created artworks in shopping centers, streets, public museums, and galleries, as well as in unusual places such as, mountains, rivers, volcanic craters, small islands, and rooftops.

Williamson received a PhD in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex in 1997 and has published several books, as well as a number of peer-reviewed chapters, articles, and blogs on subjects ranging from DIY punk, performance art, filmmaking, disability theory, and the artistic process. At a University of California San Diego lecture in 1998 he coined the term “deaf gain” as a counter-emphasis to “hearing loss.” He has received more than 20 artist’s awards including, the Helen Chadwick Fellowship at the British School at Rome; British Council China Artist Links Residency; a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University, England; in addition to a number of projects funded through Arts Council England, the British Council, Henry Moore Foundation, and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. A career-length retrospective of Williamson's work opened at the Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, UK, in May 2019, alongside a new commission by Attenborough Arts Centre titled Inspiration Archives. The commission brings together never-before-seen collections of objects, artifacts, ephemera, film footage, and photography, which document the lives and works of several historically overlooked personalities, including deaf wrestler Cain in Chains; Carlotta Waterton, a zoological illustrator who documented abnormal animal behavior; and visually impaired conceptual artist Amy Folgate.

CART captioning will be available on any personal device with Internet access.

Raven, Charlie. “Aaron Williamson: Islands in the Stream,” Disability Arts Online

Hunt, Jenni. “Aaron Williamson Retrospective – 25 years of performance addressing the politics of disability, identity, isolation and access,” Disability Arts Online

Turnbull, Joe. “Demonstrating the World: Aaron Williamson:” Disability Arts Online

De Muth, Susan. Independent