July 19: Carmen Papalia: Open Access, 12 – 3pm; Organizing for Accessibility: A Roundtable Discussion with Carmen Papalia, Kevin Gotkin, Catherine Morris, and Alice Sheppard, 4 – 5:30pm; Sunaura Taylor: Beasts of Burden, 6 – 8pm

Location: The 8th Floor, 17 West 17th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves.)

Carmen Papalia, For a New Accessibility, 2016
Carmen Papalia: Open Access, from 12 to 3pm


In 2015, Vancouver-based artist and disability activist Carmen Papalia produced Open Access, a conceptual work consisting of five tenets that describe a relational practice concerning the agreement to support others. The work models a new paradigm for accessibility that centers care, mutuality, and the responsibility for those present to interrupt the conditions that obstruct agency for those in need. A critique of institutional models for accessibility – which the artist maintains are prescriptive and marginalizing by design – Open Access problematizes the typical roles of support by encouraging participants to share accountability, practice mutual aid, and organize for accessibility from the grassroots. Since he first proposed it in 2015, Papalia has employed Open Access as: a private agreement for support, a cross-country movement building campaign, and a methodology for assessing the conditions of institutional access and publicness.

On July 19, Papalia will conduct a follow-up workshop to the series of engagements that he presented last summer at The 8th Floor, sharing developments from his last year traveling with the Open Access movement building campaign. The program will establish a space for considerations of agency and power in relation to the social, cultural, and political conditions that inform institutional access and publicness, culminating in an exercise in which participants will realize new potentials for Open Access in their communities.

Organizing for Accessibility: A Roundtable Discussion with Kevin Gotkin, Catherine Morris, Carmen Papalia, and Alice Sheppard, from 4 to 6pm

Building on Carmen Papalia’s Open Access workshop, artist, educator, and activist Kevin Gotkin, curator Catherine Morris, Carmen Papalia, and choreographer and dancer Alice Sheppard strategize about how to organize for accessibility, discussing methodologies that we can employ – as artists, curators, organizers, and individuals – in the current social, cultural, and political climate, as the revamping of the health care system puts marginalized communities at even greater risk. The conversation will also address the state of disability as a field of interest in contemporary art, and the role language plays, as a tool of alienation or inclusion. Ultimately, the panel will explore how agency and power inform institutional access and publicness.

Sunaura Taylor’s Beasts of Burden: A Book Presentation and Artist Talk, from 6 to 8pm

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In her recently published book Beasts of Burden, artist Sunaura Taylor proposes that issues of disability and animal justice – which have heretofore primarily been presented in opposition – are in fact deeply entangled. Fusing philosophy, memoir, science, and the radical truths these disciplines can bring – whether about factory farming, disability oppression, or our assumptions of human superiority over animals –  Taylor draws attention to new worlds of experience and empathy that can open up important avenues of solidarity across species and ability. How can thinking about disability help us to see animals differently?

In her work Taylor says “I found that the disabled body is everywhere in animal industries. I also found that the animal body is integral to the ways disabled bodies and minds are oppressed in the United States today.” Thus begins her thoughtful investigation in which she uncovers how the path to liberation for animals is intertwined with the ongoing fight for disability rights. All bodies are subjected to the oppression of ableism. Beasts of Burden is an elegantly written work of activism, philosophy and the personal, by a brilliant voice.

Sunaura Taylor is an artist and writer based in New York City and the author of Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation (The New Press). She has written for AlterNetAmerican QuarterlyBOMBMonthly Review, Qui Parle, and Yes! magazine and has contributed to the books EcofeminismDefiant DaughtersOccupy!Stay Solid, and Infinite City. Taylor and Judith Butler’s conversation is featured in the film Examined Life and the book of the same name, published by The New Press.