Disability Rights Activist & Artist Liz Crow Stages "Bedding Out" Favorite 



Apr 10 2013


Salisbury, UK

Artist and disability rights activist Liz Crow has produced another iteration of her long-standing performance project, “Bedding Out.” In an attempt to bridge the divide between her private and public lives, she invited the world to witness the way she exists in the privacy of her own bed. Staged at the Salisbury Arts Centre just outside of London, visitors could watch Crow as she lives in an installed bedroom for 48 hours straight.

Although Crow doesn’t advertise the specific type of disability she has, she openly declares that she has “a largely invisible impairment, with fluctuating, unpredictable symptom levels, like a significant proportion of disabled people.” It’s the invisibility of certain aspects of her condition that prompted Crow to initiate this project, noting the difference in her public and private selves.

"For about 30 years, I've been aware that I operate in two starkly different modes," she says. "One is public, where I try and come across as energetic and animated and engaged and good at what I do. It's a way of being that's approved of socially. But what people don't see is the other side, where I spend most of my time at home, a great deal of it lying down in my bed. That's in order to prepare for the public thing, and to recover from it. I've always kept that hidden because it feels dangerous to make it public. It feels like I'd be misinterpreted and people won't see me as the whole person that I am."

The installation took place on April 10-12, and was live streamed online with audio, British Sign Language and live captioning. There was also a live Twitter feed to document the performance. This element of social media coverage was both intentional and important, serving to broadcast the piece to as wide an audience as possible. As Crow states, “[Life with a disability] is lived in a fair degree of isolation, and social media is breaking down the isolation."

Crow’s performance coincided with the UK’s change in legislation regarding benefits for disabled people. On April 8, the nation’s Disability Living Allowance was replaced by the Personal Independence Payment, provoking concerns from disability rights groups that access to benefits will decrease. It's predicted that Britain's 3.6 million people claiming disability benefits will be £9 billion worse off from 2010 to the end of this Parliament.

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