Art, autism and identities

Sally Marlow on 'Changing the Face of Autism Research Together'.

Changing the Face of Autism Research Together is an arts collaboration between Dr Kinga Bercsenyi, a molecular biologist at Kings’ College London; artist Mario Ruiz Sorube; and podcaster and digital artist, Jon Adams. They teamed up with 21 autism researchers, clinicians, those with autism and family members on an art project, with the aim of stimulating discussion and creating a mindset of openness.

Each participant worked on their portrait alongside Mario Ruiz Sorube, using a digital package to add touches which they felt represented them and their lives; and also recorded a personal podcast with Jon Adams. These were brought together at Science Gallery London for two days in April.

The portraits were hung so that they created a tight circle, in which the audience gathered to view them. There were also screens matching the podcasts to time lapse videos of the actual creation of the portraits, and as the faces emerged from the screens, the ideas behind the words that accompanied them also seemed to move into sharper relief. 

Kinga Bercsenyi conceived the project, and explained: 'We’ve been able to dismantle some of the barriers we unwittingly create every day. Some really valuable conversations have come out of it all, such as: what does "participatory research" mean and what we could do to make it work better? The portraits, podcasts and discussions show that we’re really all just individuals trying to make sense of ourselves and the world.'

In true participatory spirit the audience was asked if they were happy to network during and after viewing the project, and given large green stickers if so. This gave rise to a steady level of discussions throughout the show, and the event had a more dynamic and inclusive feeling than many visual arts events. 

Future exhibitions are in the pipeline. 

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber