Park McArthur “Ramps” at Essex Street, New York
There are ramps on display at ESSEX STREET. These ramps, which provide a way other than stairs for reaching interiors that sit above street level are made of laminated chipboard, aluminum, a cabinet door, plywood, steel, two by fours and other objects intended and not for this purpose. All are portable and some, particularly the commercially produced models, fold up with hinges to create a more compact moveable object.
The majority of the ramps are from galleries, exhibition spaces, residencies, schools and studio programs. They were all built or purchased between the years 2010 and 2013, primarily for use by Park McArthur. A sign has been made and distributed to each of the lending organizations to be put on view during the exhibition.(1) Five blank variations of those signs are also included in the exhibition.
While the ramps’ presence at ESSEX STREET is unavoidable, their absence from their initially intended sites conforms to the general absence of access at every other cultural and physical institution we attend.
The exhibition continues with a vinyl wall text that takes you to a Wikipedia page created by McArthur for Marta Russell, activist and author of the 1998 book Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract. Russell, who died on December 16th, 2013, was one of the many disability activists who knew the fetish of structural access can ignore larger questions of social justice. To think access is to think healthcare and affordability, language and translation, documentation and identity, social convention and code.
(1) Made official on October 12th, 2012, New York City Law Number 2012/0472010 requires inaccessible building entrances, public toilets, and elevators to give directions, phone numbers, or other instruction as to the nearest available accessible entrance or facility.
until 23 February 2014
Park McArthur, “Ramps” installation view at Essex Street, New York, 2014
Courtesy: Essex Street, New York.