As part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, performance and installation artist Sue Austin completed the short film Creating the Spectacle (embedded below) in which she—in her specially outfitted wheelchair—explored the magnificence of the undersea realm.
In consultation with diving experts, Austin fitted the chair with tiny propellers (visible under the seat) and clear-plastic “fins” to allow for navigation. Watching the video, Austin’s grace and agility in the water calls to mind a ray or even a jellyfish with her smooth, almost ballet-like movements of her arms.
Austin, wheelchair-reliant since 1996, clearly is not an individual who thinks inside the box, nor are her physical limitations in any way limiting to her artistic vision. She is the founder and artistic director of Freewheeling, “an emerging disability led initiative focused on providing a ‘hub’ around which to foster integrated arts projects, allowing ideas and artistic concepts to develop while maintaining an emphasis on promoting academic research that aims to reposition Disability Arts and the status of disabled artists within the mainstream cultural sector.”