Disability Arts Online to host livestream of Sue Austin’s underwater wheelchair performance from Adelaide, Australia


In association with Adelaide Film Festival (ADL Film Fest) and Midlands Art Centre (MAC), Disability Arts Online will be hosting the livestream of ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ – a live art performance by acclaimed multimedia, performance and installation artist Sue Austin at 10:30 am UK time, on 18th and 19th October. Livestream available here from 10:00 (Audio Described version at the bottom of the page).

Originally commissioned by Unlimited as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Austin’s now iconic ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ will make its Southern Hemisphere premiere, exclusively as part of the ADL Film Fest. Since it was first performed, the piece has shot to international acclaim with over 400 million people estimated to have seen the work and Austin being invited to speak at NASA, TEDMED, and TEDxWomen.

Sue Austin underwater wheelchair

Sue Austin ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ copyright Sue Austin/www.wearefrewheeling.org.uk. Photo: Norman Lomax

Sue Austin said:

“Social media has proved be an excellent vehicle enabling me to track the spread of the imagery out into the world. It evidences people becoming part of the artwork as they reveal their understanding of the imagery through the comments they make on those FaceBook and other social media postings. For me, every comment and understanding is valid because that is how a ‘writerly text’ is created and how the ‘audience’ becomes an ‘active producer of culture’ or through contributing to the ‘meaning’ that arises from the existence of this imagery.”

Dramatic and unexpected juxtapositions attach new and powerful narratives to meanings attached to the wheelchair. Austin’s art opens up debate around societal attitudes to disability through the presentation of empowered and empowering images.

Austin takes her wheelchair underwater to perform a stunningly beautiful work that will be filmed and projected poolside. Award-winning Restless Dance Theatre will accompany Austin with a performance as part of this unique live art event.

A livestream of the event will be played at MAC Birmingham as part of their ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ Immersed in 360 exhibition programme which runs until 25 November. The livestream will also be hosted right here on Disability Arts Online at the top of this page.

Over an extended period of time, Austin’s practice has operated as a vehicle to open up a thinking space around the significance of the wheelchair as an object. This is being used as a metaphor to raise questions about the value of diversity in society.

Austin aims to find dramatic and powerful ways to re-position disability and Disability Arts as the ‘Hidden Secret’. She argues that this ‘secret’, if explored, valued and then shared, can act to heal the divisions created in the social psyche by cultural dichotomies that define ‘disability’ as ‘other’.

Disability Arts Online, in partnership with MAC Birmingham, will be hosting a Curated Conversation: Interrogating the (in)visibility of disabled artists, chaired by disabled artist/curator Aidan Moesby and featuring a panel including: curator and writer, George Vasey; MAC visual arts producer, Jessica Litherland; and artists Sue Austin and Anna Berry.

The livestream will begin on this page on Thursday 18 October from 10:00 am UK time, with the performance starting at 10:30 am and lasting approx 1 hour. It will run on the same time scale on Friday 19 October. 

An an exhibition of Creating the Spectacle continues at MAC, Birmingham until 25 November 2018