‘Being Seen’ is a collaborative photo story created in 2018 by Oscar Vinter and  Charlie Fitz. It came about as a by-product of working through feelings of powerlessness in the face of ableism. The photo story explores the dynamics of invisible and visible disability in the private and public sphere. Creating posed photographs in public places, an act which attracts a lot of attention, is a reflection on the need to be seen and considdered in a society in which they feel their disabilities often render them invisible. Sharing the private sphere photographs to engage with online disability communities, is intended to proudly contribute to and diversify the narratives of disabled people’s lives.

Centre frame is a young white woman with her eyes closed as a strong ray of light shines on her face. She has brown hair which is obscured by a silver and red children's space helmet. She wears a striped red, blue and yellow jumper, only her upper body in frame. Behind her is a brown brick exterior wall and a green plant. The photo has a thin black border.

... with you

Charlie stands with her back to the camera, her face can not be seen. She is outdoors in a garden standing up, she has one hand on her waist the other arm hangs at the side of her. It is a sunny day with a bright blue sky. She wears a multi coloured vest top with large daisy flowers with an open back and yellow trousers. To the left a garden fence is in view behind her and behind that a house. To the right a plant is a view behind her and next to that the back of the house to which this garden belongs. Both houses are modern suburban houses with orange bricks and white pvc doors and windows.

Dreaming of accessible futures...

Centre frame stands a young mixed race man, only his upper half from his waist is in frame. He wears a white t-shirt with a red and a grey stripe running across the front. He wears a child's' silver, grey and red space helmet and squints at the camera. A brick wall is behind him and a green plant.

If only you had x-ray vision

‘Growing up my favourite part of my body was my back, I never felt comfortable with my legs out or in low cut tops, but I felt great in anything backless. 

 Now most of my pain and illness comes from the instability and nerve damage in my neck and spine. On my best health days my disability is almost invisible but still felt.’

Flower Power

‘The first time I met Oscar he was wearing this sweatshirt. It was a postgrad welcome event. He exuded confidence and seemed to be totally at ease.

 A young mixed race man stands centrally, only his upper half in the frame. He wears round tortoiseshell glasses and a tropical floral patterned jumper. He looks forward at the camera, squinting in the sunlight. In the background the shops of the Brunswick centre and a tall tree are out of focus and flats rise up behind. Above is a rich blue sky.
A young mixed race man sits centre frame his left knee bent with his head resting on top. His left arm clasps his knee. He has short hair and stares into the camera. He wears a yellow vest. In the background is a white fan and an oval mirror in a dark frame.

At that point I could have never known the anxiety he feels in social situations and the exhaustion that follows them. This bold, sweatshirt is often a great talking point or conversation starter.’  

Interior

‘My disability although often invisible can be made visible with mobility aids or braces. Oscar’s disability is always invisible to the unfamiliar eye.' 

'He has to choose to let people into that knowledge and into his interior self, the self that does not conform to societies social expectations and if he lets you into this world it is a privilege.’  

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

‘By using mobility aids, I am able to make parts of my disability visible. However, when using them the person sitting in the wheelchair or pushing the rollator often becomes invisible.'

'I am spoken to differently in public if at all, my personal space is shown less respect and my needs are not reflected in the inaccessible (or accessible as an afterthought) infrastructure.’ 

Resist

‘Mobility aids and any technology that can improve access for disabled people are tools for empowerment. It took me a long time to realise that mobility aids were an option for me.'

'I was confronted with negative opinions and beliefs that by using a mobility aid I was somehow giving up or giving in to my illness.'

'This could not have been more wrong. My wheelchair is a big part of my access to the world since having it. I have always been very politically engaged and when I became ill my relationship to activism had to change. I often cannot be physically present.'

'Alike to my wheelchair giving me physical visibility in political spaces, online activism has also allowed me to be politically visible when I can’t be physically present. And for the times when I am too sick to be either physically present or present online to quote artist Johanna Hedva from their paper ‘Sick Woman Theory’, “The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself.” So, to keep existing is in itself an act of resistance.’