In Demonstrating the World, Aaron Williamson explored the ‘alien’ or ‘other’ through an absurdly elaborate, live reinterpretation of YouTube ‘How-To’ videos. Drawing from this contemporary archive of ‘folk performance’, Williamson enacted everyday tasks such as opening a cupboard, removing a jacket, or sitting on a chair, with detailed step-by-step instructions. He illustrated the required posture, hand-shapes and described the shifting of muscular tension – both reinforcing and destabilising their apparent familiarity.
Demonstrating the World was presented on a purpose-built mobile performance platform that housed s a radically displaced domestic interior, designed in collaboration with architect Ida Martin. Separated from their expected practical function, this unique series of household objects provided an opportunity to demonstrate the sculptural qualities of ergonomic design.
A durational public intervention for city centres and unusual places, Demonstrating the World questioned the intuitive negotiation of even the most habitual and self-evident activity.
Aaron Williamson‘s interdisciplinary engagement with performance, objects, place and space is inspired by his experience of becoming deaf and by a politicised, yet humorous sensibility towards disability. During the last twenty years he has created over 300 performances, interventions, videos, installations and publications for museums and festivals around the world, as well as mountains, rivers, volcanic craters, small islands, rooftops and a single-car lock-up garage in Hackney.
This project was developed through an R&D award in the first round of Unlimited in 2014.
Read about the making of Demonstrating the World in Disability Arts Online.