Time to be announced.
VENUE: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Debra Keenahan is one of several festival ambassadors, encouraging Sydneysiders and visitors to get comfortable with difference.
People stare at Debra when she walks through the city. She is often verbally abused; at best, viewed with embarrassment and curiosity. As a woman with achondroplasia (dwarfism), her disability comes not from her own lack of ability but from ‘surviving and thriving in a hostile environment.’
‘Little Big Woman: Condescension’ is an innovative, life-sized 3D print of Debra’s body. This technically original work imitates the form of a classical statue, reversing the spectator gaze. Debra looks back at her audience to confront anxieties and start a conversation about living comfortably with difference, encouraging the audience to understand the need to avoid treating dwarfs like infants.
Talk with Debra in our Awkward Conversations program at Customs House.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
As an artist, psychologist and academic, Debra’s work focusses upon the personal/social impacts of disability. She uses 2D and 3D art methods to represent the manifestation of dignity in the disability aesthetic. Debra has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions and her work is held in in a number of private collections. Debra lectures at Western Sydney University in Humanitarian and Development Studies, her first PhD was in Psychology on the subject of Dehumanization. Debra is currently studying for her second PhD in Visual Arts at Art & Design UNSW, her research focuses upon developing a Critical Disability Aesthetic through the representation of the female dwarf.
Louis is a Sydney-based sculptor. His approach is to take 3D scan data of people into the digital world where he manipulates these digitised forms through the application of algorithms to sculpture. He then rapidly prototypes back from cyberspace to the real world where he applies 3D printing experimentally to casting and materials. His works have been recognised through many awards and held in numerous private and public collections. His most notable achievement was the 2013 inaugural Mt Buller Sculpture Prize. In 2015 his sculptures were represented in every major sculpture award in Australia.
Robert is a Commercial and Fine Art photographer who employs a broad range of image-making disciplines including architectural, interior design, wedding and portrait photography. He has been a finalist in the international Black and White Spider Awards in the Architecture and Fine Art categories and a multiple finalist in the Photography Masters Cup. His photographic work has been exhibited at the Mosman Gallery and is held in private collections throughout Australia and overseas. He is currently working on a photographic and design study publication of the Sydney Opera House. Robert is also a pastel and acrylic artist and his paintings are held in both private and commercial collections in Australia and overseas.
Hal Timothy Yarran Witney-Cochrane
Hal is a Sydney-based artist whose practice engages with cultural, sexual and racial identity. His work engages with the audience through points of anxiety and unsureness, exposing attitudes and viewpoints on race and gender that often go avoided in conversation. Although formally trained in painting and drawing he is self taught in printmaking and sculpture, which are the primary expressions of his practice.
Debra Keenahan’s work is developing a Critical Disability Aesthetic through representation of the female dwarf employing a variety of media. Debra has achondroplasia dwarfism – she is the researcher, creative and subject of the artworks in this project – LITTLE BIG WOMAN. As the subject of the works, Debra collaborated with Robert Brindley for the street photography series. In 2017 Debra won an Australia Council for the Arts Development Grant to be mentored by the leading 3D print artist Louis Pratt in this innovative methodology; and because her work is life-size, Hal Timothy Yarran Witney-Cochrane assists with image assembly.