I do nothing

‘I do nothing’ is a multi-media series created by Charlie Fitz and Oscar Vinter in 2019. The pressure to perform a narrow  understanding of disability in public places to avoid confrontation.

Trigger warning this video includes loud noises and flashing images and may not be suitable for anyone with sound or photosensitivies. 

I do nothing I
audio-visual work

The video explores two toxic cycles; the pressure to perform disability, which in turn reinforces narrow perceptions of disability, and second, the identities and rights denied to people financially beholden to the state, in the fear these identities will deny them access to financial support; i.e. the right to make art, the right to protest. It cuts between shots of Fitz washing the words ‘I do nothing’ off her skin and shots taken from her wheelchair camera installed for her safety as an ambulatory wheelchair user, who avoids standing or stretching her legs through fear of violent confrontation. ‘I do nothing’ is repeated throughout the film by a polyphony of voices and in writing. Our personhood is so often linked to how we make money, encapsulated in the question ‘what do you do?’ Society values monetised labour above all rather than the labours of care or artistic contribution. Neither Vinter or I attended art school, it took an exhibition and selling art for us to claim the title artists. Even though we make art as a matter of survival, as part of our identities our work is viewed by many as a pass time rather than a legitimate career. 

A dark digital collage with many layers. The image is mostly black, orange clouds or smoke appears vertically down the left. A faint red structure of bars or scaffolding is across the entire image. A circle towards the bottom right of the image is lighter than the rest showing the red scaffolding more clearly. To the left a faint image of Charlie in her wheelchair, with a facemask, neck brace and knee braces on can be seen. Over the entire image in green the words "I do nothing, I am an artist, I educate, I can not reliably, repeatedly, safely or in a reasonable amount of time" are repeated, some text with lines through it some without.

I do nothing II

The words in the piece that have not been struck through are from Fitz’s PIP application. These words are a cyclical disclaimer for Fitz’s existence as a disabled person. Words struck through are the actions and identities that are taken from Fitz and Vinter by the dehumanisation of disabled and/or chronically ill people and those who care for them. These words also represent what we have to hide from public view and the DWP in fear of losing our income. We are perpetually dehumanised by society, by the DWP and in turn, dehumanise ourselves to tick their boxes. Layered in the digital collage is a picture of Fitz in her wheelchair with all her aids and braces; the objects which make her disability visible and publically legitimate. Vinter’s disability does not have signifying objects, but as a man of colour, is keeping his neurodiversity hidden safer? Clouds and sky are seen through a skylight from within a shopping centre. What is the disabled artists’ place in a capitalist society? Do they have a place at all? Through telling our stories through our work can we create a more nuanced understanding of our disability without significant personal risk?