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February 2016

 

IMPOSTER

Actress Speaks Out About Jenner Shoot

The December 2015 issue of Interview Magazine featured a photo shoot with Kylie Jenner that included a wheelchair shot.

Ali Stroker, Broadway’s first actress using a wheelchair, spoke out in interviews with TMZ and Variety Magazine, saying the disabled community is fully capable of representing themselves.

“It was time for the conversation regarding disability and sexuality to happen,” Stroker said. In an article titled “Feel Free To Stare: Disability and Fashion,” You Do You, an online magazine and Ali Stroker make her own stance on the issue. According to the You Do You article written by Kenta Murakami with Stroker the photos “shot by the prolific provocateur Steven Klein, her body appears increasingly objectified and abstracted from her humanity… The narrative cumulates in one of the cover photos, which finds [Jenner] the able-bodied model posed in a shiny chrome wheelchair.”

The article continued, “A frequent theme in his work, it would seem that Klein is suggesting that his heroine’s pursuit of beauty has come at the expense of her body’s functionality; a perverse circularity that is familiar in narratives surrounding beauty.”

The author went on to question the motives of the photographer,“By placing an able-bodied model in a wheelchair, Klein’s images continue to project upon and fetishize whatever fantasies we may have about disability in the abstract, conversely creating cultural assumptions about what disability means or looks like.

“This error plays into a larger discourse that dehumanizes those with disabilities, a discourse that casts them not only literally as outcasts, but as people less able to
feel, to care, to love, to think, or to receive and give pleasure.””A lot of people were angry” Stroker said. “But I remember feeling that this could bring us to a larger conversation that needs to be had. I think what people’s anger showed was the absence of authentic representations of our community. I don’t even think

Kylie meant to reference disability, but when there’s nothing else out there what are we supposed to feel?”

Interview said that they had no intention of offending anyone, but that Klein’s work was engaging with “art historical precedents,” in particular the late-60s sculptures of Allen Jones. Jones’ use of sex dolls as furniture did not incorporate disability.

In 2009, Stroker became the first actress using a wheelchair to earn a degree from the NYU Tisch Drama Department. This year, the Glee Project star made history as the first actress using a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage, where she is currently originating the role of Anna in Deaf West’s 2015 revival of “Spring Awakening”. “Being in a chair brings such a different perspective to things. Everyday I’m seeing the world through, what I have decided to be, a powerful lens. Not only do I literally see the world from a different perspective, but I see the way people receive me, which is such a reflection of where we are.

“I also see, through what I’ve accomplished, that I have the power to shift that by feeling powerful in myself.”To read the entire You Do You article which goes on to examine disability
and sexuality visit www.you-doyou.com.”

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