Staring at “The Disabled” and seeing nothing.


                      “Alison Lapper Pregnant” by Marc Quinn.

 The controversy surrounding Michael Noonan’s film project “Unlikely Travelers” has raised issues about the representation of people with disability in the media and public. As mentioned in the earlier post  “Laughing at “The Disabled – Power, perception and prejudice”, I claim that those who are defined by society as “disabled” are subjected to a different set of social norms and acceptable behaviors to those perceived as “normal”.

In the case of Noonan’s film, comedy featuring the men with intellectual impairment has been labeled offensive and exploitative. But a “normal” person mocking their own personal foibles is considered a comic tradition

Another recent disability controversy has been the statue in Trafalgar Square in London entitled “Alison Lapper Pregnant” (photo above) by Marc Quinn. This statue has been criticised by some as ugly, which is perhaps an honest critique that has not gained traction because of issues of political correctness. The main objection that has been raised publically about this statue, carefully trying to avoid personal offense to the model or to disability sensitivities has been that this sculpture is not art.   It has been widely criticised in Britain as being all message and no aesthetics, in effect labeling it as nothing more than a disability propaganda exercise.  (see Pregnant Alison sculpture not art?)

It seems that Michael Noonan’s actors finding humour in their own disabilities is offensive and degrading.  Yet Woody Allen making fun of his own neurosis is clever comedy.

A nude sculpture, if the model is disabled (or pregnant?), is not art but propaganda. A nude sculpture of an able bodied person is considered high art, for example Michelangelo’s statue of David has been hailed as one of the most significant artworks in history.


I think both sculptures are beautiful and high art.

 British artist, Alison Lapper’s website



Filed under art, disability

6 responses to “Staring at “The Disabled” and seeing nothing.

  1. Pingback: The Dead Roo » Movie Review - “Unlikely Travellers” directed by Michael Noonan

  2. Penelope

    I love David’s sculpture and also the Alison LApers pregnant. … Botha re art to me. You have to stop and thin for a second: Both sculputres are art…and both are disable people..haven’t you seen David’s penis?? is very small for his body and it means that he is also disable in someway..isn’t he?

    Pay attention….

  3. This woman reminds us that many things in life we take for granted! Kudos to her!

  4. think before u talk, both statues have different meanings. ‘Art’ is a message and both gives messages but different ones.

  5. you seem to have missed my comment – “I think both sculptures are beautiful and high art.” The article is a critique of those who think images of disability are not art.

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