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18 Dec 2017

Carmen Papalia: Open Access: Practicing Accessibility Together

Gallery 344, City Hall Annex

Reviewed by Franklin Einspruch

Carmen Papalia is blind, and his art has him setting up public scenarios - duly recorded - in which he makes adventuresome changes to his usual habits of navigation. Two videos by the artist are on display at Gallery 344. In one he trades his red-tipped cane for a megaphone, announcing to anyone nearby that he needs help getting across a street. It doesn't work out so well.

In the other video he has exchanged his cane for a high school marching band, instructed to play various tunes depending on whether the way is clear or blocked, level or uneven. He is able to enter a bodega and order a soda, accompanied by tubas and cymbals.

Papalia plays it for laughs, but the piece has genuine vulnerability in it, and not just in the respect that he might fall down a curb. A poem printed on the wall and floor divides the gallery, noting "your palms / hold reference / to gates / to walls and woodgrain." It testifies to experiences seen by unusual means, but thorough ones.

Exhibition Carmen Papalia: Open Access: Practicing Accessibility Together
Start date 18 Sep 2017
End date 29 Dec 2017
Presenter Gallery 344 link
Venue City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA, USA map
Image Carmen Papalia, still from Mobility Device, 2013, video, courtesy of Gallery 344

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