Undoing Ableism // A Video Assemblage

Call for Contributions

The prompt: Capture a part of your body that does not have a name (e.g. that you can’t describe in two words or less). Submit your digital video to be a part of a larger assemblage.

What: A crowdsourced video project/movement experiment. The contributions will be united in a final video assemblage, which will be presented as a video installation and shared online.

Why: This project is designed to rally for disability justice by encouraging people to rethink the way that they perceive bodies, especially regarding disability and intersections with race, gender expression, gender identity, sexuality, age, class, etc.

Who: You! And any friends who care about undoing ableism, experimental film, dance/movement projects, and queering the way we perceive the body.

When: Between now and October 30th

Where: Anywhere you are

How: Follow the instructions below to make and submit a video clip (ten seconds to 3:00 minutes in length) that will be edited together with other clips from contributors around the world as part of a “microdance” video to challenge perceptions of bodies as un/whole/parts. How does *your* body fight against medicalized or partial views of itself?


Instructions: To contribute to the video assemblage, please make and submit a a digital video recording that features an “up-close” or “user’s-eye-view” of your body. Your clip should be between ten seconds and three minutes in length (roughly), and should depict a view of your own body*. You can move the camera as much or as little as you like, use any human assistant or any kind of tripod or other device to hold the camera, but the objective is to capture a perspective on your own body that reminds the viewer that, to the user, a body cannot simply be broken down into “parts” (hand, nose, elbow) but is instead a continuous tophography that is more than the sum of its parts***.  You can watch the example clip above (it’s a little boring right now, since all the examples happen to be my own body – but that’s why I need your help!).

  • Please use a digital camcorder, a digital camera, or any other type of digital recording device to make the video
  • Set the camera to its highest recording quality (the maximum pixel count), and to the 4:3 aspect ratio [this will help to make the finished product look its best!]
  • You don’t have to worry about the sound in the video
  • After you have captured the video, upload it to your computer, and save it as a file titled Assemblage_YourName (so, if your name is Lisa Frank, your video should be saved as a file titled Assemblage_LisaFrank
  • You can save it as a .wav, .mov, .mp4 file (if you have another video file format and aren’t sure what to do, please email me)
  • If you want to edit the clip yourself, you are welcome to, e.g. stringing together three different 60 second shots, but please keep the footage as raw as possible
  • Then, please email the clip to cassandra.hartblay(at)gmail.com. In the email, make sure to include the following information:
    • UNDOING ABLEISM PROJECT in the subject line
    • your name (as you would like to be credited in the video),
    • the name of anyone else who you want to credit for helping to make the clip you are submitting,
    • the sentence “I am over 18 years of age, and I am willingly submitting this clip for the project titled Undoing Ableism // A Video Assemblage”**
    • where you are in the world (city, town, country),
    • any comment you would like to make about the experience of making the video clip and/or thinking about your body in this way,
    • whether you would like to be emailed when the final video project is completed and released,
    • whether you would be willing to talk publicly about the experience of making the video.
    • If the file is too big to email, send a message to the same address (with all your information), and Cassandra will promptly send you instructions about how to upload the file to an online folder

Then, pass it on!! The more contributors, the better!

*The clip you submit may be clipped, trimmed, used as still frame, cropped, or otherwise altered in the editing process. And, as the artist compiling the full project, Cassandra Hartblay may chose to use or not use your clip in the final video assemblage. But, you will be fully credited by name as an contributing artist (unless you request otherwise), and a beta version will be shared with all participating artists prior to public release.

**Sharing images of your own body is always a potentially scary thing to do, and the way that these images are cropped, edited, and shared involve dynamics of unequal power. It is important to consider this. The final product of this crowdsourced video project will be edited and presented by Cassandra Hartblay, and it will be under her discretion to further share the assemblage of video artworks. By submitting your video, you agree to the further distribution of your images by Cassandra Hartblay, and agree to receive no compensation for your submission. The project will not be distributed for profit. You will always be named as a contributing artist on the project. If you have further concerns about ownership and representation, please contact Cassandra by email. If you would like to use the images in this project for another kind of assemblage, or to share the project with your community, please contact Cassandra by email.

***This project is not intended to be pornography, or what is commonly called pornography. We see so many images of what “sex” is “supposed” to look like, and what “bodies” are “supposed” to look like, and this project is intended to challenge these pervasive images that flatten our perception of living in and as human bodies. Our bodies can do many things, and experiencing sexuality is one of them, but sexuality is not the focus of this project. Please make & submit your clip with this in mind.

About the project: Cassandra Hartblay is an ethnographer, disability activist, and documentary artist working in a variety of media. The video assemblage project will be presented as part of her contribution to a special session on Anthropology of Design at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco in November 2012. In addition, it will be subsequently submitted for exhibition in other spaces, and made available online as part of a project website.  All contributors will be credited and thanked in the video. You can find out more about Cassandra and her work on the home and about pages of this website.  For more information about the theoretical paper that goes with this project, or for other questions, you can contact Cassandra by email at cassandra.hartblay(at)gmail.com.