“In learning to make a film, students are taught to show rather than tell,” artist Jordan Lord explains in voiceover in After… After… (Access) (2018). In the film, MRI images of Lord’s heart pulse and morph on the screen like a morbid screensaver, as they expand on this crucial point, noting “this conventional wisdom that filmmaking is an act of showing underestimates the performative capacity of telling.”
In this film and others, Lord privileges methods geared toward accessibility (including the act of telling) within the very structure of their work. By brilliantly embedding image descriptions and open captions (which cannot be turned off) into their narrative constructions, they insist on the primacy of disability justice concerns. In Lord’s films, artworks, and writings, accessibility is never an afterthought, but rather a potent set of guiding principles.
This Thursday, May 7, the NYU Center for Disability Studies will present a selection of Lord’s incisive films for “Disability, Documentary, and Description,” a virtual film screening and discussion which will feature After…, I Can Hear My Mother’s Voice (2018, co-directed with Deborah Lord), and an excerpt of Lord’s feature-length documentary Shared Resources (2020), the latter of which reflects on debt and bankruptcy among members of Lord’s family, and their disparate understandings of dependency and disability. (That Lord’s father worked as a debt collector himself, until he was forced him into retirement, inscribes a dark irony to the film.)
Following the screening, Lord will be joined by fellow artists Carolyn Lazard and Constantina Zavitsanos (who we recently caught up with for Meet the NYC Art Community), whose practices similarly work toward creating a disability aesthetic while critiquing structures of dependency and impediments to access and equity. The conversation will be moderated by Emily Lim Rogers, the event organizer and an NYU doctoral candidate.
Lord’s screening is being presented as part of what the NYU Center is calling a “disability arts triple header,” and will be preceded by an “Alt-text as Poetry Workshop” led by Shannon Finnegan and Bojana Coklyat and hosted by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, and followed by a new installment of Netta Yerushalmy’s Paramodernities Live series, which will feature blind art theorist Georgina Kleege on Saturday, May 9.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, as museums race to debut virtual programs and expand access to their collections online, Lord’s work nods to the fact that many of the recent shifts are ones that disability-justice-focused communities have been urging for years now. With Lord’s films as just one example of the ways in which such paradigm shifts can produce exciting new modes of engagement, let’s hope those institutions don’t forget about the very real need to keep these systems in place once the pandemic subsides.
When: May 7, 7–9pm
Where: Online, via Zoom
Access notes: All films are audio described and open captioned in English. There is a strobe effect (a flickering light) about 8 minutes into the video After… After… (Access). The video also says this at the beginning. Live audio description of the event will be provided by Alejandra Ospina. CART, ASL will also be provided.
See the NYU Center for Disability Studies for more information.