Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism's Temporal Bullying - Red Bull Arts Detroit

Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying

Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying is an exhibition curated by Red Bull Arts Detroit’s inaugural curatorial fellow Taraneh Fazeli that focuses on the politics of health and care. Note: “Crip” is a political reclaiming of the derogatory label “cripple” popularized by disability activists.

This traveling site-specific exhibition and programming series leans on some of the very structures that play a part in making us sick, using their support to transform existing structures while also engaging in more radical networks of support outside of them.

Artists: Ava Ansari + Poetic Societies, Fia Backström, Black Power Naps (Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa), Danilo Correale, Wayne Curtis, Jen Liu, Carolyn Lazard, Jordan Lord, Park McArthur, Sondra Perry, Will See, Katya Tepper, Cassie Thornton, Constantina Zavitsanos, and others to be announced.

Programs: Through The Warp and Weft of Care series, in dialogue with local communities of care, workshops + performances will unfold throughout the course of the Fall 2019 exhibition and next Spring 2020. Please see below.

Partners: Detroit Disability PowerProjectArtRIP Medical Debt, and others to be announced.

Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 18th, 5-9PM

Closing Reception: Sunday, November 3rd, 2-4:00 PM

Curated by Taraneh Fazeli, 2019 Red Bull Arts Detroit Curatorial Fellow

Past iterations have been held at: The Luminary (St. Louis, MO), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE), EFA Project Space (New York, NY), Lawndale Art Center and Project Row Houses (Houston, TX), as well as numerous social service organizations.

The original curatorial essay can be read here.

The artists taking part in Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time examine how care for the body in states of illness, rest, and disability (particularly in relation to the time they operate on) prompts us to re-imagine forms of support. Artworks and engagements within this travelling exhibition that is customized to site counter the over-valorization of independence in US society and respond to how racialized global capitalism has produced debility in many populations while, at the same time, creating bureaucratic infrastructures that support very few people. To this end, artworks dealing with infrastructure, care, ancestral healing, illness, fitness, sleep, somatic sustainability, debt, dependency, life/work balance, alternative temporalities, and wellness culture are included within. Programs will provide a locus for examinations into relief, resistance, and potential repair, while taking into account the many contradictions with seeking support and waging critique under capitalism.

Whether or not you currently identify as sick, we all experience fluctuating states of health throughout our lives, with many of us exhausted from living and working in capitalist systems rife with insufficient and deteriorating infrastructures for care. Even if you have never expected much from institutions and rely mostly on mutual aid to survive, chances are you still lean on some of the very forces that play a role in making us sick. This may include atrophying public institutions, privatized healthcare, or systems for redistributing wealth, such as philanthropic structures or corporate forays into art and culture.

Considering how art and culture have long been tied to anti-racist and labor-oriented solidarity struggles in Detroit and, how more recently, art has played a key role in drawing attention to water shutoffs, food scarcity, and the effects of privatization of atrophying public infrastructure, the context of the city has much to offer this project’s examinations. Mindful of the fact that failures in public health and biomedicine are felt by some disproportionately more than others (due to race, ethnicity, class, disability, gender, sexuality, etc.) and that the processes of colonization, displacement, and extraction have negatively impacted the health of generations of various populations, Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time is a platform for exploring collective forms of healing the way these traumas are produced and held in the body and environment.

The project’s curatorial approach is motivated by ethics of care emerging from disability justice. Disability justice imparts how recognizing dependencies must be the basis of ethical human relations. While some people are more dependent than others due primarily to the manner in which societies and built environments are structured, whether it be as when we are a baby, sick, elderly, or out of work, we all are dependent on others during times in our lives. Complete autonomy is a fallacy often only afforded to the wealthy, who are actually dependent on those that made and keep them so (i.e. by the extraction of natural and human resources).


When used in relation to disability, “access” often refers to the ability to enter a place, fully participate, and feel welcome. When working to make societal structures more accessible, conceptions of access are also inextricable from senses of belonging determined by other identity markers intertwined with disability. By understanding access (and exclusion) to be social and economic as well as physical, Fazeli asked Red Bull Arts Detroit to approach access not as a movement towards compliance via a checklist, but as an ongoing and interrogative relational process.

The approach was dual-pronged: First, efforts are underway to support Red Bull Arts Detroit and other local organizations in becoming more accessible for people with disabilities, and others marked by processes of exclusion; Second, in order to better support creative work happening outside institutional structures and those who might not feel comfortable in “white cube” art spaces for many reasons, related programs will occur outside the organization’s confines in community spaces during Spring of 2020.

Partnerships with Detroit Disability Power and outside accessibility consultants—Ezra Benus, Dessa Cosma, and Ani Grigorian—were established to enable a process that was not led just by administrators, but also by disabled artists and activists. This process included an audit of Red Bull Arts Detroit’s physical infrastructure (galleries, residency, office) that resulted in phased improvements and intersectional anti-oppression training for its staff. It also resulted in the establishment of a “tool kit” of practices and assistive technologies that will be available for local cultural practitioners to borrow free of charge. More info on access at Red Bull Arts Detroit can be found here.


Participating artists examine how care for the body in states of illness, rest, and disability—particularly in relation to the time they operate on—prompts us to re-imagine forms of support. Dragging on and circling back, with no regard for the stricture of the workweek or compulsory able-bodiedness, the time that this project investigates is non-compliant. It refuses a fantasy of normalcy measured by in-or-out thresholds and demands care that exceeds what nuclear families can provide.

As such, the normal temporal logics of arts programming and institutions are eschewed in favor of a more expansive time. Many art residencies use “parachute-in” models that don’t allow participants substantial time for listening before they can act, thereby preventing meaningful local engagement when residents come from afar.  Recognizing this, the resistance of a progressivist linear logic in this project’s structure is to allow its participants to work on sick time, and to respond to dialogues particular to site.


Lean on me, I am Ready, October 18, 2019: The exhibition’s accessibility consultants will lead a workshop for curators and non-profit administrators to share access resources and practices. More information available here.

Verbal Description and Touch Tour, October 20, 2019: Benus will lead a descriptive tour with touch elements for non-visual learners. More information available here.

Closing Celebration, November 3, 2019: A closing reception will celebrate efforts that unfold throughout the course of the exhibition. First, Fazeli will guide visitors through an exhibition walkthrough. Then, several local artists will address what has occurred on/to the land which the exhibition takes place on that needs to be healed. This includes the launch of a coloring book on food justice by artist and ex-Black Panther Wayne Curtis alongside a conversation with him and the launch of a new song by Will See that a links environmental, racial, and disability justice. More info available here.

Give me Cred!, November 17, 2019: As part of her ongoing project Give me Cred!, in partnership with ProjectArt artist Cassie Thornton will host sessions at the public library and elsewhere around Detroit for participants with “bad credit” to create alternative credit reports that help them in their search for healthcare, jobs, and/or housing. This will culminate in an event in which strategies of resistance against predatory debt are shared. More info available here.

Spring 2020: Fazeli will host an offsite programming series, The Warp and Weft of Care, in which encounters such as listening investigations, movement exercises, the sharing of healing histories, and other programs occur in community spaces.


Please see Red Bull Art Detroit’s accessibility page here for details on general support when visiting exhibitions or programs at the space. There you will find details on how to reach a staff member with questions or to request specific support, the availability of gender non-segregated and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, videos of wheelchair-accessible entrances and routes through the building, the best public transport to the space and accessible parking, a social narrative on the space, and details on travel fund support.

Events: Accessibility details specific to each program, such as assistive technologies or seating available, will be listed on each event’s web page. All events are free of charge.

Artworks: For accessibility concerns specific to the artworks in this exhibition, note that one video uses a stereoscopic effect, an installation uses a flood light/bright light, and another video has fast-paced animation sequences that addresses violence to workers’ bodies. Visitors can still experience the show without these elements if any are of particular concern. Please see the gallery attendants who can guide you as to how.

Text/language: Texts, captions, and programs are in English. The videos within the exhibition are captioned and there is seating to view them from. There are large-format versions available of the gallery guide.

Opening: For the exhibition opening on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 from 5-9PM, there will be an ASL translator to welcome people. The opening will be alcohol-free until 6:30PM and we request that no photos are taken until after 6:30PM.

Quiet room: There is a quiet room adjoining the exhibition with a range of comfortable seating, low light levels, stim materials, toys, ear plugs, and a range of drawing materials. This is a space for anyone who needs to chill out a bit. It’s designed around the needs of autistic people, but everyone is welcome. If you need to move around, pace, or not make eye contact during your visit, know that you are welcome in this exhibition.

Scent-free request: While openings are often prime time to show how fine you can look and how good you can smell, the exhibition’s organizers ask that everyone come to the opening and exhibition scent-free. Many ill (and non-ill) people have chemical sensitivities, which means they do not tolerate scents. If you come wearing perfumes, there is scent-free soap in the bathrooms to wash it off. More info on how and why to do this can be found in a resource by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha here.

Photography: While the exhibiting artists allow photographs of their artworks, we ask that you do not use flash. Please refrain from photographing other visitors without permission. Note, there will be photographs taken at the opening reception after 6:30PM.

Children and service animals are welcome. There will be an area with children’s toys and reading materials in The Waiting Room installation.

**Concealed carry is prohibited at Red Bull Arts Detroit.**


Support by: Gabe Chess, Project Manager; Cyrah Dardas, Curatorial Assistant; Matt Eaton and Dino Valdez, Installation Managers; Sarah Blanchette, Pat Delloro, Franklin Jonas, Korey Lightford, and Nik Pence, Installation; Kirsten Nicholas, Communications.

Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time was made possible with the generous support of Red Bull Arts. Special thanks to the Freeland Grain and Bean Company. Research support came from the Jan van Eyck Academie. Past versions of the exhibition were made possible with the generous support of EFA Project Space, a program of The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Core Residency Program; and The Idea Fund.

As there is always a web of support holding a project up. In addition to the exhibition’s artists, Red Bull Arts staff, and partners, gratitude goes to Jessica Allie, Noura Ballout, Ouliana Ermolova, Tyanna Buie, Scott Campbell, Asia Johnson, Katherine MacBride, Shanna Merola, Tad Murawska, Sky Olson, and gallery attendants Sydney Frakes, and Lorena Cruz, and Laura Gibson.

Related Exhibitions: Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying

Installation view of Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time, 2018 at Bemis Center, Omaha, NE. Photo: Colin Conces. The Waiting Room will feature printed materials from local health organizations, publications on health autonomy and healing by artists and collectives, and new commissions by artists Ava Ansari, Wayne Curtis, and Cassie Thornton. // Descriptive caption: View onto a room with light-yellow walls, purple chairs in a row, a round clock on the wall, a water cooler, a trash can, and two plants. There are magazine racks hanging on the room’s left and right walls that are filled with publications.