25% (Rectification) 2022

Performance, intervention, images

The artist Alistair Gentry, dressed in a black dinner suit and wearing dark glasses, stands beside an image of a blue nude woman by Matisse that has been altered to give her a wheelchair. In the background is a white art gallery with a painting by Mondrian on it.
Photo above and all others on this page by Brian Roberts.

Gallery performance inspired by the artists of DADA in the 1920s, painting disabled people into the canon of Western figurative art.

This one day intervention in July 2022 was part of a nationwide project called WAIWAV (We are Invisible We are Visible) commissioned by DASH. In thirty public art galleries around the UK, artists made happenings and interventions inspired by the disability arts movement and the 102nd anniversary of one of the Dada movement’s most significant and influential exhibitions.

In the spirit of Marcel Duchamp drawing a beard and moustache on the Mona Lisa, I spent the day at Tate Liverpool altering well known figurative images from Tate’s collection to insert the disabled people who are mostly absent from the canon of Western art both as subjects and as artists. The images I chose are all available from Tate’s shops, so you can try this at home…

The title is a reference to the Dadaist practice of adopting, abducting and détourning found art for their own purposes, and to the nearly a quarter of the population who are d/Deaf, disabled or neurodivergent. In the UK it’s actually about 22% or 23% but I took a little bit of artistic license and rounded up.

All photos on this page are by Brian Roberts, courtesy of Tate Liverpool.

You can also read a related essay I wrote for Disability Arts Online about the history of romanticising the disability, poverty, mental illness, self medication and self harm of artists that co-exists alongside an almost total disregard for artists’ struggles while they’re alive and genuinely in need.

Wide shot of the artist Alistair Gentry, dressed in a black dinner suit and wearing dark glasses, working on a painting on a wooden easel. In the background is a white art gallery with a painting by Mondrian and several other paintings on it.
The artist Alistair Gentry, dressed in a black dinner suit and wearing dark glasses, working on a painting on a wooden easel. In the background, out of focus, is an art gallery.
The artist Alistair Gentry is in the background, dressed in a black dinner suit and wearing dark glasses, working on a painting on a wooden easel. In the foreground, a person is filming with a camera on a tripod, and gallery visitors watch.
The artist Alistair Gentry, dressed in a black dinner suit and wearing dark glasses, working on a painting on a wooden easel. The painting is a copy of one by William Hogarth, who is now wearing a hi vis "blind" tabard and has a guide dog. In the background, out of focus, is an art gallery.