Image by Kate Elliott, courtesy of Autograph
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Autograph makes art accessible to deaf people

The Autograph gallery in Shoreditch is hosting an event entirely in British Sign Language to help deaf people engage with their exhibition, Fixing Shadows: Julius and I.

On Thursday 31 August, Shoreditch gallery Autograph presents Fixing Shadows: A BSL Response with deaf performance artist Chisato Minamimura. 

Minamimura will introduce guests and respond to Autograph’s current exhibition, Fixing Shadows: Julius and I by Eric Gyamfi. Drawing from her own creative practice, Minamimura will explore key figures in the exhibition, conceptualisations of human interaction and consider the visualisation of sound and music from a deaf perspective. 

Held in the Autograph exhibition space itself, Minamimura will be surrounded by Eric Gyamfi’s blue, monochromatic cyanotype prints in which Gyamfi merges his own image with the portrait of the transgressive African-American composer Julius Eastman. This will allow attendees to directly engage with Gyamfi’s art and its underlying ideas.

Fixing Shadows: Julius and I is the first UK solo exhibition of Ghanaian artist Eric Gyamfi. Gyamfi pays homage to Eastman, blending images of himself and the composer together in a method not unlike Eastman’s approach to classical music. 

Gyamfi’s compulsive use of cyanotype photography mirrors Eastman’s distinctive use of repetition and accumulation, an experimental approach which has come to solidify Eastman’s significance in the canon of music after years of disregard. 

The thousands of prints densely packed in Autograph’s gallery examine how photography can shift meanings and histories – ‘fixing shadows’ of legacy, absence and revival. 

Minamimura is a deaf performance artist, choreographer and British Sign Langauge art guide. Born in Japan and now based in London, Minamimura has been involved in aerial performances at London’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony in 2012 and Rio’s 2016 Paralympic Cultural Olympiad. 

Minamimura uses dance and digital technology in order to explore the visualisation of sound and music and convey her experiences of sensory perception and human encounters.

Since deaf actor Rose Ayling-Ellis won Strictly Come Dancing, cultural organisations have been improving accessibility. Earlier this year, Ayling-Ellis starred in Shakespeare’s As You Like It at Soho Place Theatre using sign language alone. Autograph’s event helps to ensure that people with hearing impairments can experience and fully engage with art. 

If you are interested in learning British Sign Language, SignSay CIC offers courses remotely and in person from its premises on Bow Road.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like Genesis: the East End’s independent cinema bucking the streaming trend.

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