Lauryn Youden at Künstlerhaus Bethanien / Berlin

Lauryn Youden / Visionary of Knives
October 2 – October 25, 2020

Künstlerhaus Bethanien
Kottbusser Str. 10/d
10999 Berlin, Germany

Photography: TimoOhler/all images copyright and courtesy of the artist

At the center of Lauryn Youden’s exhibition are two wallmounted altars, each measuring just underfour meters long. Filled with dried flowers, medicine, herbs, books, candles, and ritualbased objects, the content of these altars documents the survival strategies she has developed to navigate an ableist world. Visionary of Knivesis a space of retreatand rest but also education and protest. Originally conceived as ameeting place for a queer Crip* community, it has become a place of absence due to Covid19, mirroring the physical isolation often experienced by people with disabilities. Drawing together Youden’s care practices, and her personal collection of literature and zines made by other Crip queer artists, healers, writers and thinkers, the exhibition is an invitation to encounter a space dedicated to Youden’s care and the discourses of her community. In this time of a global pandemic, as the majority of ablebodied people are confronted with a Crip reality for the first time, these discourses hold a new resonance. Youden invites us to learn from the wisdom of the sick and disabled community as we learn to live in a world where access is limited, and disease and illness are a constant threat. 

*Crip is a term many people within disability studies and activist communities use not only in reference to people with disabilities, but also to the intellectual and art culture arising from such communities. Crip is shorthand for the word „cripple“ which has been (and is) used as an insult toward people with disabilities, but which has been reappropriated as an intragroup term of empowerment and solidarity. An early proponent of Crip’s social and political potential, Carrie Sandahl (2003) describes Crip as a „fluid and everchanging“ term which „ expanded to include not only those with physical impairments but those with sensory or mental impairments as well“. (For further Information: Alison Kafer: Feminist Queer Crip, Indiana University Press, 2013)