Lauryn Youden / Visionary of Knives October 2 – October 25, 2020
Künstlerhaus Bethanien Kottbusser Str. 10/d 10999 Berlin, Germany
Photography: TimoOhler/all images copyright and courtesy of the artist
At the center of Lauryn Youden’s exhibition are two wall-mounted altars, eachmeasuring just underfour meters long. Filled with dried flowers, medicine,herbs, books, candles, and ritual-based objects, the content of these altarsdocuments the survival strategies she has developed to navigate an ableistworld.Visionary of Knivesis a space of retreatand rest but also education andprotest. Originally conceived as ameeting place for a queer Crip*community, ithas become a place of absence due to Covid-19, mirroring the physical isolationoften experienced by people with disabilities. Drawing together Youden’s carepractices, and her personal collection of literature and zines made by other Cripqueer artists, healers, writers and thinkers, the exhibition is an invitation toencounter a space dedicated to Youden’s care and the discourses of hercommunity. In this time of a global pandemic, as the majority of able-bodiedpeople are confronted with a Crip reality for the first time, these discourses holda new resonance. Youden invites us to learn from the wisdom of the sick anddisabled community as welearn to live in a world where access is limited, anddisease and illness are a constant threat.
*Crip is a term many people within disability studies and activist communitiesuse not only in reference to people with disabilities, but also to the intellectualand art culture arising from such communities. Crip is shorthand for the word„cripple“ which has been (and is) used as an insult toward people withdisabilities, but which has been re-appropriated as an intra-group term ofempowerment and solidarity. An early proponent of Crip’s social and politicalpotential, Carrie Sandahl (2003) describes Crip as a „fluid and ever-changing“term which „ expanded to include not only those with physical impairments butthose with sensory or mental impairments as well“. (For further Information:Alison Kafer: Feminist Queer Crip, Indiana University Press, 2013)