Documenting scenes from a painting workshop with visually impaired participants, Żmijewski’s video Blindly asks what it means to imagine and represent without relying on the sense of sight.
Polish artist and filmmaker Artur Żmijewski is known for his politically charged videos, often engaging with contentious or delicate subjects in a candid documentary style. Past works have dealt, among other things, with the memory of concentration camps and with democracy as a clash of radically different political views. Many of his works directly address the challenges faced by people living with disabilities: Żmijewski invites disabled people to perform tasks which foreground their impairments, and captures the outcomes with startling honesty.
For Blindly 2010 the artist set up individual painting workshops with a number of people who have no sight and asked the participants to paint a self-portrait, a landscape, and an animal on large sheets of paper. Some were born blind, some lost their sight after an accident or condition, and all responded to the assignments in highly personal ways. Żmijewski rarely intervened, leaving the participants free to express their own perceptions of the world. The highly tactile process is depicted as messy but purposeful, yet viewers are aware they are able to see these striking pictures while their creators cannot.
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