an online exhibition
for photographic exercises

This virtual exhibition showcases selected photographic works that engage with topics such as disability rights, vulnerability and solidarity amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.  

Every Wednesday, the exhibition space will continue to develop. Contents will soon be translated into Arabic, Farsi, French and Hebrew.

Ubuntus is a cross-generational art education program that creates space for collective engagement with contemporary political art. This space is always significantly influenced by its participants and their individual realities of life.

About this project

Initially, this project set out to exclusively center around the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) using the medium of studio photography. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and several other intense and reality-shifting events (such as the racist terror attacks and murders in Hanau, Germany; the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement or the ongoing Human Rights Violations in the refugee camp Moria, Greece) the focal point of the project expanded in order to additionally highlight the intersection of various forms of discrimination that had now gained increased visibility.

Like a kaleidoscope, the project examined the development of social injustices during a gobal pandemic in manifold ways: In a form of contemporary witness-bearing, the participants collectively documented, shared and processed a variety of individual life experiences while still centering reflections around topics such as inclusion, accessibility and ableist discrimination as well as the rights of people with disabilities and respect thereof.

Why Article 11*?

In this context, a special emphasis was placed on Article 11 of the CRPD: At the moment, the right for protection of the physical and mental integrity of people with disabilities - particularly regarding situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies - is being negotiated intensively within the public discourse. In addition, the daily lifes of people who are specifically vulnerable with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic (so-called risk group) have changed in a drastic way. Simultaneously, the intersections of disability and flight are often overlooked and the right for protection for people with disabilities who are currently fleeing or who have experiences of flight is currently disproportionately disrespected. Because of its global scale, the Covid-19 pandemic is perceived as a situation of risk and humanitarian emergency which provokes important questions and illuminates existing social injustices regarding the rights of people with disabilities.

Who participated?

Article 11* was significantly shaped by the disabled and able-bodied people and the people with and without experiences of flight and/or trauma who took part in this project. Participants worked together in small groups (educational sponsorships), that consisted of: an adult, who is specifically vulnerable with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic and/or who is disabled (so-called Ubuntus friend),
a child or teenager with or without disability who has experience of flight and trauma (sog. Ubuntus),
a child or teenager with or without disability who has no experience of flight (sog. Ubuntus).

Course of the project

The participants primarily interacted in a virtual project-space: Each week offered new exemplary impulses from contemporary art combined with photography briefs that both reflected the primary topics. Participants worked with and used different forms of materials and input that they received online as well as offline.

At the end of the project, the participants engaged with a specific piece of contemporary art, which reflected on inclusivity, disability rights, vulnerability and solidarity. This served as a base to form and clarify individual desires and standpoints from which the participants would then develop and execute their personal photographic staging. Professional and personal assistance was provided throughout the course of this project.

Abstand

Distance as a protection mechanism is often interwoven with exclusion.

Does physical distancing inevitably create interpersonal distance? Who’s social life is impacted the most? How does the term “risk group” protect people who are vulnerable? To what extent does this means of protection cause othering?

Protection

How can we protect our bodies? This question becomes especially pressing as some bodies are made more vulnerable than others.

Solidarity means reaching a social consensus on how our bodies and our identities are protected, and committing to it.

Scar

Understanding our own vulnerability opens our perspective for the vulnerability of others: Scars as a means to indicate past injuries help us see ourselves in others.

In our society, some people are still made more vulnerable than others. The necessity for a convention that protects the mental and physical health of people with disabilities exemplifies this injustice.

What does it mean when the understanding of vulnerability is distributed unevenly? What importance does this have in the context of a global pandemic and its unforeseeable consequences?

Breath

Within the last months, breath as an existential part of our human vulnerability has been subject to sometimes brutal, sometimes quiet and mournful public negotiations.

As a response to an imminent, ongoing discourse as to whether some people’s lifes are more valuable than other’s, engagement with the most elemental topic - breath - became existentially necessary.

This increase in visibility regarding the intersection of health related questions in the context of existence and discrimination was also shaped by the phrase “I can’t breathe!” that fundamentally changed the world at the same time.

Isolation

What do you see when you look outside of your window? What changes, clouds or taints your view? - During the first weeks of social distancing and contact restrictions, the participants artistically engaged with the topic of isolation.

What effect does isolation have on us? What kind of access to internet, community or nature do we have? Do we stay at home because we need to protect ourselves and/or because we wish to protect other people?