Artist's Statement

My research embraces the feminist stance, which recognizes the physical body as the primary maker of experience and identity. It centers on the powerful influence of chronic illness, aging and disability on self-identity and the ensuing effect that those factors have on the body’s relationship to its physical space and society. Feminism and disability rights, two parallel and intertwined civil rights movements, have each separately and together generated a dense theoretical conversation about representing persons with those conditions.

Western medicine that may dominate these lives is slow to address personhood, tending instead to medicalize aging and disability. The infirm are separated from the firm. Residential institutions seem always to be littered with mechanisms and machines. Initially, it seems that steel dominates the folks living there. Gradually we come to know the small perhaps silent bodies housed in various contraptions. Personalities loom large when language is limited or absent. Sometimes characterized by grace, other times punctuated by belligerence, it is these personalities and behaviors translated into softer, more sensuous materials that comprise LIMBUS.

The canes and chairs in the gallery are balanced upon one another without fasteners, alluding to the physically and psychologically destabilizing nature of illness and disability. It is a poetic presentation of the separation and the odd reality that accompanies this tenuous existence.

While my images originate in illness or deformity, they are not representations of it. The images are in fact confabulations of daily life, the result of the brain actively engaged in making sense of long periods of imposed physical stillness, or other sensory feedback from within a unique body.

— Harriet Sanderson, 2007