Hi, my name is Iddo Gruengard. I am 44 years old, from Tel-Aviv, an interdisciplinary artist, married and father to three cute and enthusiastic kids.
I was so excited when I heard that I had been accepted to the Unlimited International Producer Placement, because my practice is as a disabled artist and I’m very involved in the field of Disability Arts in Israel, where it is relatively undeveloped.
But then came the Coronavirus, delaying all activities and Southbank’s Unlimited Festival. Now, as everyone in the world, I’m restricted to my home and all communications are digital-only.
In Israel, it’s particularly hard because of the problematic political situation. We’ve had three elections in the last year alone. Nevertheless, at home, we are enjoying the time together as a family.
I was at home for a few weeks before the crisis because of medical issues. I am a paraplegic T5-6 in a wheelchair, as a result of a motorcycle accident in India in 1998, and I had just had a procedure that resulted in complications. So, for me, it was an ironic bonus that my family had to stay with me.
As an artist, I have a degree in architecture from Tel-Aviv University and a Master’s in Performance from Central Saint Martins in London. Most of my work is at the intersection of body, space, disability, memory, intimacy, audience participation, and technology. I’ve done performances, installations, short movies, Virtual Reality, and fashion shows in Israel, the UK, and Greece.
Right now, there is little support for independent artists in Israel, but there are some open calls. Artists immediately created a Facebook group for “Culture in the time of Corona,” which led to a virtual festival, Viral Festival, that tried to use the digital tools we have now to innovate ideas about art and culture.
As Disability Arts is at an early stage and still seeking recognition here, there are limited resources and funds intended specifically for the field. That said, I have been supported by three funds and two residencies, so we’re definitely making progress!
My hope is to bring the experience and knowledge gained from my internship with Unlimited home with me. I see Unlimited as the best commissioning programme for Disability Arts in the world today. I hope to create a similar program in Israel, with networks of my international colleagues around the world. Disability Arts and critical theory has so much innovation to offer society as a whole and opens up new dialogues in different fields.
You can find out more about Iddo’s practice here.