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Figures:
An artist-activist response to austerity

By Liz Crow
In Berghs, M, Chataika, T, El-Lahib, Y & Dube, K (2020) The Routledge Handbook of Disability Activism, 1st edition, Routledge, Chapter 4

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Activism won the Taylor & Francis most outstanding handbook in the social sciences, 2019

Abstract

Timed to coincide with the 2015 UK general election, Figures was a mass-sculptural durational performance by artist-activist Liz Crow that made visible the human cost of austerity and urged action against it. Using excavated raw river mud and taking up residence on the Thames foreshore every low tide for 11 consecutive days and nights, Crow sculpted 650 small human figures, each one representing an individual at the sharp end of austerity. In this illustrated essay, she describes the multi-phase performance and how it interacted with members of the public and the political context, and explores how its qualities (time, space, indirectness, symbolism, embodiment as a disabled person, etc) generate an activist work.

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