A Specially Adapted Underwater Wheelchair Brings Artist Sue Austin Beneath The Earth’s Surface
British artist Sue Austin creates multimedia, performance, and installation art, using her wheelchair as a means to explore new patterns of movement. In 2012, Austin was commissioned to create a series of multimedia events as part of that year’s Cultural Olympiad, in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The result, titled “Creating the Spectacle!” is a spectacular immersive dance performance and underwater exploration, which was shot near Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.
Her underwater wheelchair is adapted from a standard-issue National Health Service chair, with battery powered propellers and perspex aerofoils to control turns. Austin hopes that the adaptations will be more widely available at diving centers in the future to make diving more inclusive.
A statement on her website explains, “she aims to find dramatic and powerful ways to re-position disability and Disability Arts as the ‘Hidden Secret’. She argues that this ‘secret’, if explored, valued and then shared, can act to heal the divisions created in the social psyche by cultural dichotomies that define the ‘disabled’ as ‘other’.”