Richard Ansett

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. Recording the muscle spasms in his face that would represent him to a normative audience in a palatable way (Image 6) denies 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. If we remove that expectation, we reduce the pressure on us and him to meet it.

More on the representation of mental and physical disability here:

DIGNITY

REPRESENTING OTHERNESS

File_6777, Lewis © Richard Ansett