Performing care(fully)

Portrait of disabled artist Nina Muhlemann, smiling and pointing at an award held in her other hand.One of the very positive outcomes of giving presentations is meeting so many people already active in this field. At ETH Zurich Caroline and I met disability activists, including Nina Muhlemann (pictured) – one of the other speakers – whose ongoing performative project is called Future Clinic for Critical Care. You can access a description of previous work in Berlin here. Quite shocking to hear stories from disabled participants about how difficult it is living in Switzerland – a place they say where disability is kept out of sight as much as possible.

There was also discussion about how architecture is taught here, and whether formalist (non-social) approaches are still dominant. The debate was a little fraught at times; enough for us to talk afterwards about how to be able to start from where different people come from, to listen to and respect diverse opinions, but also to be clear about how ‘common sense’ attitudes act to perpetuate marginalizing and discriminatory assumptions about both disability and about what is valid architecturally. Important, then, to support the continuing concerns with non-normative bodies being explored by Theory lecturers Torsen Lange and Gabrielle Schaad, and to talk to design professors like Adam Caruso about future directions.