Performance and installation artist Sue Austin has been using a wheelchair for 16 years. As an artist, she embraces the experience as a foundation for her artwork, where she challenges the stigma of the disabled as ‘other’ and creates opportunities for empowerment. Her website states, “Over an extended period of time her practice has operated as a vehicle to open up a thinking space around the materiality of the wheelchair.”
Creating the Spectacle is a body of work involving filmed and live exhibitions of her adventures under water. In this series of photographs, Austin explores the world without limitations as she swims among the fish in a self-propelled wheelchair. For months, she and a team worked together to develop a wheelchair that floats and easily glides through water. She says, “If you just put a thruster under the chair all the thrust is below the centre of gravity so you rotate. It was certainly much more acrobatic than I anticipated." The result of her hard work are these spectacular performance-driven photographs where Austin, seated in a wheelchair, defies gravity by flipping, floating, and hanging upside-down in a majestic, underwater world.