2. The Split Is Vividly Revealed, Nars Foundation, June 2019

All Images: Billy Mason Wood
The Split Is Vividly Revealed, presented at Nars Foundation, New York, June 2019. The installations My Body Is The House That I Live In: F.G, L.G and R.A.W, consist of 7 white neon tubes, placed horizontally, one below the other, on the gallery wall. Each tube corresponds to a facet of ‘wellness’: physical, emotional, mental/intellectual, occupational, sexual, social and spiritual. Every hour, a sick/disabled participant assigns each wellness category a number from 0-10, 0 being no wellness in that category and 10 being full wellness; that number will determine each tube’s brightness for the next hour. At 0 the tube will be off, for each number up to 10 the tube will glow fractionally brighter, with a score of 10 corresponding to full brightness. On the gallery floor, six arduino/C++ modules are coded to repeat the data collected from each participant for the duration of the exhibition. Computer-generated voices endlessly loop, TFT screens refresh and reload every minute offering the same data translated into written form.

One sick or disabled woman/gender nonconforming participant controls each installation for the duration of the exhibition. In this way each work becomes a durational performance of living with sickness, one that views disability as a political issue, moving illness out of isolation and into the public realm.

The work simultaneously points to the inadequacy of our common cultural language surrounding sickness, pain and disability. Making use of the 0-10 pain scale employed by the medical industrial complex, the installations illustrate the failings of representing bodies, pain and sickness in numerical form. Here we see individual experiences reduced to statistics; leaky, messy and multilayered conditions are reduced to numbers on a scale. Whilst the work attempts to bring sickness, chronic illness, pain and disability into the public space, it also reflects upon the pitfalls of trying to make sickness palatable and understandable for a nondisabled audience.