Featured Finalist: Louis Lim
Louis Lim is a Malaysian born Chinese photographer and story-teller now living in Brisbane. ‘Anthony’ from his series Strangely Familiar was chosen as a finalist in the 2013 Head On Portrait Prize. The exhibition is on display at the State Library of NSW until June 23.
Growing up with a belief that it was rude to stare at people with a disability or impairment meant that I gradually eliminated their presence from my consciousness. Admittedly I would glance at those who presented as ‘abnormal’ and politely, or perhaps shamefully, look away when eye contact was made. I felt pity for the person and considered their disability to be unfortunate.
Mainstream media reinforces this assumption and presents a limited narrative: the celebration of an abled body and the devastation of the pathological. Alternatively, it showcases those who overcome the pathological as medical miracles or inspirational idols.
Strangely Familiar investigates the ‘unseen’ side of a differently-abled narrative effectively disrupting the ableist presumption of people labeled ‘disabled’ as inferior. Over the past twelve months I have worked collaboratively with Jocelyn, Finbar and Anthony. The stories presented are not concerned with their physical limitations, nor are they celebrations of ‘inspirational achievements’. Instead, each collaboration seeks to share with an audience, a glimpse into the personal and intimate aspects of love, belonging and identity.
Anthony, a young, bright and amiable university student was born with cerebral palsy. Like many 20 year olds, Anthony struggles with his personal and physical identity. Through ongoing conversations, he revealed that a large part of his struggle was accepting his body, that he measured against the ‘ideal’ physical symmetry portrayed in dominant representations of ‘desirable’ bodies. I began exploring Anthony’s life attempting to address his struggle and illuminate his aspirations and goals. Like other young men, Anthony is passionate about life and aspires to be seen as a sexual being and to be socially accepted.