Lewis, Student at National Star College © Richard Ansett
Photographing subjects with cerebral palsy or motor-neuron disease presents a unique issue, as the condition is literally a mask to the trapped human being inside a body that won’t behave itself. In recording the subject response with a camera, I cannot trust the physical signs that would reflect the emotions in an ‘able bodied’ person. Whilst photographing Lewis, I found myself conflicted, as I was only comfortable when recording the muscle spasms in his face that would represent him to a normative audience in a palatable way (see image 6). This in fact has denied Lewis the right to be represented as he actually is, as opposed to asking society and audience to accept the reality of his existence and not try and fit him into the impossible aesthetic mold of the normative world.
More on representation of mental and physical disability here:
File_6777, Lewis © Richard Ansett