My Normal People's Project, 2017
The 2017 Photo Oxford People’s Project is a collaboration between Photo Oxford, The School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University, and The Ark-T Centre, a pioneering community arts and social activism initiative based in Cowley, Oxford. Using creativity to generate and celebrate community power, Ark T passionately believes in challenging privilege in the arts and tackling discrimination in society.
Artists Kate Mahony and Aaron Williamson have been working with Ark-T’s My Normal group, an intersectional (LGBTQI+ / Disability) group of young creatives funded by Youth Music in partnership with Ark T. Through a series of participatory photographic workshops the group have generated a series of images which are displayed on the Brookes campus and in the city centre, affording their lived experience and creative agency a high degree of visibility in central locations not always accessible to those living beyond the city’s primary cultural and educational frameworks.
Over the course of three workshops together with the artists, the group addressed the theme ‘conceal/ reveal'. A camera studio was set up and a collection of salvaged/recycled materials made available for creating masks and costumes. It was felt that the group’s public name ‘My Normal’ might imply a concealed alter ego. This dynamic was left open to individual interpretation, the workshop participants becoming bolder in devising appearances to reveal aspects of themselves that might normally remain concealed. . .
Kate Mahony studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths. She recently completed an MFA at The Ruskin School of Art. Her first solo show, Storage, was presented in 2014 at Ladette Space in London. Her work has been included in over 20 group shows internationally, and involves participatory, process driven explorations of performance and performed behaviours, leading to film, performance and photographic artworks.
Over the last twenty years Aaron Williamson has created over 300 exhibitions, performances, videos, installations and publications in Britain, Europe, Japan, China, Australia, Scandinavia, USA, South America, Canada and many other countries around the world. He has a PhD in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex (1997), and has published widely, including a monograph for the Live Art Development Agency ‘Performance / Video / Collaboration’ (2007). Awards as an artist include the Helen Chadwick Fellowship at the British School at Rome (2000 – 01); Three-Year AHRC Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at BIAD, University of Central England, (2004 – 07); and the Stephen Cripps Studio Bursary, Acme Studios (2013 – 14). Williamson’s work is informed by his experience of becoming deaf and by a politicised and progressive sensibility towards disability. At a University of California San Diego lecture in 1998, he coined the term 'Deaf Gain' as a counter-emphasis to 'hearing loss'.
My Normal are:
Hannah Bruce (Youth Music Project Manager)
Photographic Supervisor: Adrian Pawley
The People’s Project is supported by Oxford Brookes University, Oxford City Council Culture Fund, Oxford University Community Fund and Unipart.
8 – 24 September
Monday – Sunday all hours
Or alternatively, the work can be viewed on a digital display at Oxford Brookes University:
The John Henry Brookes Building
Oxford Brookes University
Buses from city centre: 13, X3, 4, 4A, 4B, 8 and the Brookes Bus U1/U1X