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Unlimited 2014 - disability arts online
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The Royal Festival Hall hosted a series of Unlimited presentations, visual arts, film and t-shirts / 12 September 2014

By Richard Downes

Summer can’t decide whether it should be autumn today. Reaching the end of Hungerford Bridge I hear the Buzzcocks asking ‘Ever Fallen In Love’, Diverse City’s Young Performance Company have drawn a crowd appreciative of dance and circus skills.

Entering the foyer Tom Doughty and Adrian Lee from the Paraorchestra are strumming and singing to an attentive audience. The whole place is buzzing. I’ve got friends here and I’m at Unlimited a festival I’ve fallen in love with. It must be summer.

Or is it Autumn? Something calling itself The Unlimited Story is before me: photographs from 2013. Behind them images promoting 2014. In the empty space behind that space, future seasons. Autumn is harsh this year. The leaves are shaken from my tree. The presentation of our people’s work hang from tawdry banners, emblazoned with platitudes.

This is no story. Or maybe there is. The company men have stepped in to promote themselves and the festival. It’s a painful allegory alluding to the risks we run as non-appreciated units categorised as non-productive.

If someone had manipulated my work as a practicing artist or as a photographer recording the work and making my own, in this way, I’d have felt like returning to Hungerford Bridge. A shameful soiling of the hope our true story and the story of Unlimited brings.

Over the last month I’ve been noting facebook messages that have smacked of desperation. Calling young activist artists. Please send us a word or two. "We need your slogan here". I’m sure the kids who coughed up for this are as proud as punch to have their slogans on a shirt hanging in this amazing place even if they are right at the back of the building.

It just feels like someone had a spare tenner and decided to give it to the kids. There are no signs of engagement, involvement, or creativity. The slogans are old school.

It’s getting cold in here. I was really looking forward to Unlimited On Screen though. I’ve seen some great use of space to do projections at the Southbank and you only have to take a look at the Unlimited website to know how great these films are.

But as of last year I’ve got a problem with the presentation. Yes… access to the telly is much improved. I’m more comfortable. The telly’s bigger. But there's too much happening around me to concentrate.

I note Katherine Araniello’s 2013 Mascot is turned away from the screen. I’m off too. I didn’t bring a coat and it's cold and I’m thinking of the Buzzcocks; ‘Should na' fallen in love with’.

Keywords: unlimited