Beyond Measure? Disability Art, Affect and Reimagining Visitor Experience

Authors: Christine Kelly, Michael Orsini

Disability, mad and d/Deaf arts are motivated to transform the arts sector and beyond in ways that foreground differing embodiments. But how do we know if such arts-based interventions are actually disrupting conventional ways of experiencing and consuming art? This article presents three themes from a critical literature review relevant to curating and creating artwork meant to spur social change related to non-normative bodies. We highlight examples that push beyond standard survey measurement techniques, such as talk-back walls and guided tours by people with lived experiences. We also explore the myriad affective outcomes of art and how we might measure emotional reactions, recognizing that disability itself is imbricated in structures of feeling. We argue that such efforts must integrate concepts of access from the field of critical disability studies. Ultimately, tools for measuring audience response to politicized art must contribute to challenging and transforming these structures.