Southbank Centre celebrates work from disabled artists on the climate crisis and identity
With over half of the events free to attend – plus multiple virtual options – the festival’s diverse line-up of visual art, film and performance engages with urgent themes.
- Liz Gorny
- 24 August 2022
Keep 7-11 September clear, asSouthbank Centre’s biennial Unlimited festival is returning for its first in-person event since 2018 with a multi art form programme. The exhibition will showcase the work of artists who identify as being disabled, D/deaf, neurodivergent and those experiencing chronic illness or mental health conditions. From an art installation linking global shrinking ecosystems to hearing loss, to one artist’s response to the disability created through badly designed societies, Unlimited’s roster is full of work touching upon pertinent, pressing issues. The climate crisis, identity and marginalised experiences are all to be explored, as well as how our society currently frames these subjects.
Though this year’s festival marks a return to in-person activities, Southbank Centre has also ensured an increased focus on digital access with 11 events which can be experienced digitally at home. Plus, over 50 per cent of Unlimited’s events and displays are free to attend. Immersive, compelling and occasionally satirical, the programmes teased so far suggest a festival not to be missed.
Among the line-up, Jameisha Prescod’s poetic essay film On Black Pain tells intimate stories of three Black people living with chronic pain, “while reflecting on the colonial past of modern medicine”, a Southbank Centre press release states. Also on the screen is Christopher Samuel’s The Archive of An Unseen, which tells the artist’s life story growing up as a disabled, Black child from a working-class background in the 1980s in the UK. A series of films commissioned by Unlimited will also be available to watch for free for the duration of the festival on subjects spanning Welsh rainforests, chronic pain and endometriosis.
For those with a focus on visual arts, check out Belfast-based Japanese artist Shiro Masuyama’s installation Brexit Sausages, a free unticketed programme at Royal Festival Hall which astutely deploys giant sausages to reference the Northern Ireland Protocol, and its effect on sausage trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Elsewhere, Hassun El-Zafar transports audiences to three diverse ecosystems – the mangroves of The United Arab Emirates, the tropical rainforests of Borneo and Yorkshire woodland – all of which are affected by the climate crisis. The release elucidates: “Drawing a parallel to the declining bioacoustics of these ecosystems, El-Zafar uses his personal experience to raise awareness of those affected by the most common type of human hearing loss.”
A plethora of music, performance, dance and cabaret programming is scheduled – the latter includes a masked ball designed to embrace face masks artistically and practically to protect the most vulnerable attending. Discover the full festival line-up on the Southbank Centre’s site.
Whatsthebigmistry: The Empire’s Old Clothes. Image by Simon Alleyne (Copyright © Whatsthebigmistry, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.