Current / Ongoing
The Archive of an Unseen
Scroll through fragments of the artist’s life story, growing up black, disabled and working class in the 1980s, in this interactive artwork.
Christopher Samuel’s work addresses the imbalance of representation in medical and social archives to build a better understanding of the wider spectrum of the human experience.
Move through a digital archive of Samuel’s childhood from before his diagnosis at age seven, being registered as disabled at age 14, through to leaving high school. Layers of audio, video and photography form what he describes as an “expanded documentary” of his life. These are presented in a custom-built re-creation of a Microform reader – a viewing instrument usually operated by specialists – echoing the medical scrutiny he experienced as a child.
‘The Archive of an Unseen’ is commissioned and supported by Wellcome Collection and by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists, with funding from Arts Council England.
The Archive of an Unseen is now on show at The Wellcome Collection in the Medicine Man Gallery, level 1.
183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE
Open 10:00 - 18:00 Tuesday - Saturday
Open late until 20:00 Thursdays
Cared 4 Network
Who has the control in a prescribed care relationship? Christopher has made a playful interpretation of the log book documents that carers are required to fill in daily as they administer care, drawing on his own experiences of being cared for for inspiration. Log books are used by care companies to monitor the amount of care delivered and the ongoing needs of the cared for person. They are instrumental in determining both the continued support for the cared for person and continued funding for the care company. Yet these documents are recorded entirely from the perspective of the carer. The often deeply personal and intrusive data gathered is completely out of the control of the person being cared for, and is shared in undisclosed ways amongst care companies and funders to be assessed. This process of data control creates a system of power that works against the person being cared for, protecting primarily the business interests of the care company. In The Cared For Network, Christopher reclaims this perspective to create his own log of events over a period of several days, imagining what happens if the power dynamic of the carer and the cared for unravels. Christopher imagines the possibility of these shadow log books, appearing on p2p networks, being written by the people being cared for or with full honesty by the carers, making space for a more revealing account of the processes of care.
Swinging in the Wind
Through a series of one to one conversations with men who have experienced a cancer diagnosis and treatment, Christopher gathered stories and insights into some of the unspoken impacts that cancer can have on men’s lives – What couldn’t they normally say? How had their sense of selves as men changed? What weren’t they told about?
Direct, open, honest, conversations allowed these men to reveal taboo and unspoken accounts of how their sense of mascilinity, sexual identity and sex lives were impacted, and what became important to each of them as their bodies changed.
Just as awkwardness and social norms stop many conversations about these side effects, Christopher wryly uses redaction and blocking out text from NHS pamphlets to uncover some untold stories.
Unseen was a series of photographic prints depicting areas of Blackpool that are inaccessible; be that physically, mentally, economically or culturally inaccessible. This series investigated everyday inaccessibility many people encounter on a daily basis. It takes audiences to places they might not think of as inaccessible or they might find solace in relating to the idea others find those places as inaccessible.
Cripple explores the idea of idleness in the context of our reality in which disabled people have been pushed further to the margins of society as a direct consequence of austerity. The weaponisation of productivity under austerity means many view disabled people as lazy or idle and not deserving of help. Without support, however, their human rights are compromised, disabling them from participating in society and forcing them into a cycle of marginalisation.
Sleep-in Installation at Art B&B in Blackpool, which is a room for people to experience inaccessibility. I wanted to challenge the idea that when it comes to access, one size fits all and to create a conversation around accessibility. It was about designing a space that needs to be experienced to be understood, a slightly theatrical space, one that targets non-disabled people.
Photographs by Claire-Griffiths
Tackles the laws surrounding independent housing for disabled people, cutbacks in care and laws around health and care. The UK government has since been making cuts to benefit programs that give financial support to people with disabilities who cannot work and provide for themselves financially.
Screen prints: Paper, Ink
Collection of interviews about family dynamics
Glass, Pewter, Copper, Resin, Audio
What's Your Class
Collection of social dynamics
Glass, Pewter, Copper, Resin, Audio
The bond, unrequited
Routine and life events
Plaster, Steel, Copper
Medical charts, Assessment forms, Log forms, Ink, Thread, Wire
Between The Black & White Lines
Ink, Paper, Watercolour
In 2021 a selection of these drawings was purchased as part of the Government Art Collection.