Carmen Papalia

Artistat Open Access Foundation for Arts & Culture
Vancouver,
Canada
Focus area: Analog, Art History, Cultural Practices, Social Practice, Net Art, Sound, Acoustics

Carmen Papalia is a nonvisual social practice artist with severe chronic and episodic pain. In 2021 he co-founded the Open Access Foundation for Arts & Culture (OAFAC), a pandemic-era cultural organization that aims to set a new cultural standard for accessibility by nurturing creative and justice-oriented accessibility practices. Addressing the limited representation of those with lived experience of disability in leadership roles within the visual and performing arts, OAFAC’s activities advance disability culture and artistry within a contemporary art context through disability-lead trainings, curation, public engagements, exhibitions, performances, educational campaigns and site-specific project development with artists, curators and cultural workers.

Since 2009 Papalia has used organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, art institutions and visual culture. As a convener, he establishes welcoming spaces where disabled, sick and chronically ill people can build capacity for care that they lack on account of governmental failure and medical ableism. His work, which takes forms ranging from collaborative performance to public intervention, is a response to the harms of the Medical Model of Disability, a framework that erases disability experience by reinforcing ableist concepts of normalcy.

In 2020 Papalia was one of 25 artists who received the Sobey Art Award; in 2019 he was a Sobey long list recipient in the West Coast / Yukon region. Papalia also received the 2014 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, which supported a 3-month residency at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the 2013 Wynn Newhouse Award. His work has been featured at: The Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum, the Tate Liverpool, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Gallery Gachet, among others.

Headshot Alt-text: Against a blurry background of rocks and ocean, a close-up of an olive-skinned man with brown eyes, a dark, close-trimmed beard, and a gray hat. Headshot, image credit: Kristin Lantz