Posted on Jun 11, 2021 in Mobility Device, Projects

Mobility Device

Carmen Papalia with support from Other Sights

October 2021

Open Access Foundation for Arts and Culture | Carmen Papalia Website

Artist Carmen Papalia proposes the possibility of user-defined, creative systems of access where the care recipients maintain their agency and decision-making power with the support of others in their community.

In this collaborative performance of Mobility Device, Papalia replaced his cane with a marching band that served as his primary navigation system during an improvised walk in a public place. Anticipating his trajectory, band members provided musical cues that highlighted elements of the built environment as Papalia encountered them. Mobility device represents a non-institutional and non-institutionalizing temporary solution for the white cane. In the lead-up to the performance Papalia worked with the Carnival band, to develop their communication cues and navigational strategies which supported him to freely explore Kitsilano Park and the Showboat area.

Accessibility was addressed in a number of ways throughout the project, both during the October performance and the December talk/workshop (Open Access: Setting a New Cultural Standard for Accessibility) that followed.

Papalia has just released a short documentary that explores creative and justice-oriented accessibility practices. The film follows Papalia as he prepares Mobility Device from rehearsals through to performance. Supplementary interview material with Papalia gives further insight into his nonvisual social practice. Visit Other Sights’ youtube channel to watch the Mobility Device film.

Carmen Papalia (b. 1981, Vancouver, Canada, unceded Coast Salish territory) lives and works in Vancouver. Papalia’s projects have been presented at institutions including Tate Liverpool, London, England (2017); The 8th Floor, New York, New York (2016); Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2016); and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York (2014). Papalia is the recipient of the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary from Shape Arts, London, England (2014) and the Wynn Newhouse Award (2013).

This project is produced by Carmen Papalia with support from Other Sights. It is also supported by the City of Vancouver Untitled: Public Art Grant, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Image credits: All images in the slide show are from Carmen Papalia’s October 2021 performance with The Carnival Band in Kitsilano, Vancouver. Images by Sunshine Frère.

Image description: Image 1: It is a sunny summer day and two men walk along a cement pathway in a park with green grass and trees. Behind them on the left side of the image there is an empty park bench, and behind the bench is a man on a bicycle looking towards the two men walking. Of the two figures walking side by side, side profile, the man closest to the camera has a face mask, a fedora hat, a light short sleeve shirt and dark jeans, he is holding a walking stick that is black out in front of him. The man beside him is wearing a dark cap on his head, a face mask, light coloured shirt, maroon shorts, orange socks and brown shoes.

Image 2: Carmen Papalia stands in the centre of the photo facing towards the camera with a tuba player on his right and a saxophone player on his left, both are playing their instruments. Behind them are several more rows of 3-4 individuals wide, all playing a variety of musical instruments. They are all dressed up in colourful band costumes, while Carmen wears dark blue pants, a brown sweater and jacket and a grey fedora.

Image 2: It is a bright day with blue skies, a group of people with instruments walk facing forward on a cement path. Several people are playing instruments, in the centre of the photo Carmen Papalia is walking towards the camera, he wears dark blue pants, a brown sweater and jacket and a dark fedora hat. A tuba player stands on the left side of him and a saxophone player on the right.

Image 3: A group of people dressed in colourful band outfits walks along a cement path in a grassy green open park. Large trees and buildings appear in the background. The band members are all playing a variety of instruments. In the front row on the path on the right of the image, in the middle is Carmen Papalia.

Image 3: Carmen Papalia is walking with one leg lifted facing 3/4 profile to the right. On his right a man playing a tuba stands facing left, on his left a man playing a saxaphone faces 3/4 profile to the left. Both are playing their instruments. Additional individuals behind these three are also carrying and playing their instruments as they all walk forward towards the camera. The band members all wear colourful outfits.

Image 4: Several rows of individuals are all walking facing side profile to the left. They all wear colourful clothing and are nearly all holding and playing instruments as they walk. In the row closest to the camera a trombone player is playing his instrument. They are all walking in the shade, but behind them is a sunny beach, followed by a bay of water and in the far background, several mountains.

Image 5: A crowd of approximately 16 individuals with instruments march facing the camera, the beach is to the left side of them and a building and large weeping willow tree to the right and behind them. behind them are trees and grass. Many of them are wearing colourful outfits and playing instruments. A woman on the front right side of the image holds a red parasol.