New Contemporaries Digital Residency
We are delighted to announce that Ashleigh Williams (BNC2020) is the 2021 recipient of New Contemporaries Digital Residency.
"Due to my non existent attention span, TV is a great point of reference for me. Being from a working class background means my family never really did engage with academia - so my whole life had basically been trumping lived experience over academia. In TV and music videos especially, you get to see communities (for me, particularly mixed/black communities) celebrated, uplifted, demonstrating pure black excellence and joy. Very dope right? This is a strong juxtaposition of art school academia - it's laced with trauma porn of the black/mixed race and disabled experience.
Over the next two months I will be drawing on cartoons, live performances and song lyrics to have discussions about race, disability and class in a way that diverges from standard academia - celebrating my marginalizations as positive aspects of my identity. No more trauma porn.
I will be sharing reviews of anime, holding an anime reading group and bringing all the research together into a video essay. Let’s get our crunchyroll subscriptions ready girlies.
Seeking to procure a more representative art world, I (mainly under my collective, Babeworld) create art and facilitate events for those who are marginalised by their class, gender, race, and everything in between. With an emphasis on collaboration, my practice focuses on themes of political and societal identity, such as disability/ accessibility, mental health, sex work, ‘poverty porn’, and oversharing- otherwise known as attention-seeking on the internet. Through collaborating with other underrepresented artists, I cultivated networks to grow my online platform to fundraise, distribute grants and host alternative education events for marginalised people and communities.
My practical work aims to highlight the importance of lived experience, and in return maybe have some content beyond your classic art jargon. Something my family can access. I explore themes of disability and blackness through a working class lens. I’m autistic, physically disabled, working class, a sex worker and queer (phew, what a list. And let me tell you, when you're an underrepresented part of the ‘art scene’, presence and existence become socially engaging and political.
During my time at higher education, I struggled to engage with the curriculum due to the lack of voices and representation in these institutions of people like me. I used cartoons and music videos/lyrics as modes of research - solidifying their cultural and academic significance. In music and cartoons I see people with similar intersections to mine living beyond performing a palatable version of their marginalisation - thus in turn celebrating and uplifting marginalised communities. Music and cartoons are also considered “low culture” - a nod to my working class background, and also a style I wish to replicate so that as many people can engage with and digest the work as possible.