Chapter 18: Art, visual impairment, and the gatekeepers of aesthetic value.

Feeney, David (2019) Chapter 18: Art, visual impairment, and the gatekeepers of aesthetic value. In: The Routledge Handbook of Visual Impairment. Routledge, London. (Accepted for Publication)

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


This chapter brings the institutional contextualisation that has characterised critical approaches to art appreciation since the nineteen sixties into contact with the roughly contemporaneous emergence of the sociological re-orientation of approaches to disability that afforded an invaluable distinction between impairment and disablement. The devising of such an interdisciplinary critical framework affords consideration of the ableist assumptions at work in some of the processes through which value is determined within the domain of the arts. The roles of 'gatekeepers' at the periphery of this formal domain receive particular attention here, as the evaluative criteria underpinning the bestowal of credibility on an artwork’s candidacy for appreciation are scrutinised through the critical lens of an ableist framework borrowed from cultural disability studies.
The chapter takes particular issue with the performative contingencies underpinning the affirmation of the creative output of artists with visual impairment from within the field of perceptual psychology. Questioning the degree to which these appraisals can be said to be truly positive, I argue that they are informed by an insufficiently pluralistic conception of capability, and that their disproportionate prioritisation of compliance with normative representational conventions has an ultimately disabling impact on the range of pathways to creative expression that artists with visual impairment are likely to deem worthy of pursuing. Artists with visual impairment, it is suggested here, are only likely to assume a position from which they can begin to do justice to their diverse talents when visual impairment and blindness are conceived as a richly generative, rather than a competently replicative resource of creative expression. The chapter culminates in a brief review of the directions in which such an interdisciplinary approach to visual impairment and art might be applied in further research.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information and Comments: Final versions will be released by copy editors in January 2019
Keywords: Art, Visual Impairment. Blindness, Sociologies of Art and Impairment, Institutional theory of art, relational aesthetics.
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Disability and Education
Depositing User: David Feeney
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2018 13:37
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2019 11:12

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item