Carmen Papalia: Long Time No See 

September 7 - October 12, 2013

CUE is pleased to present Carmen Papalia's first solo exhibition: Long Time No See 

Papalia's work, which takes the form of participatory public projects, explores the topic of access as it relates to public space, the Art institution, and visual culture—as the artist's own access is defined by a visual impairment. Papalia invites the participant to explore the possibilities for learning and knowing that become available through the non-visual senses, and to trust in the revelatory practice that is non-visual interpretation. Through exercises in trust and blind orienteering, participants discover new geographic contours from which to develop a sense of place. They begin to consider looking as one of the many ways to engage with and interpret their surroundings.

The core component of Papalia’s exhibition will be a multichannel sound installation documenting a non-visual site mapping workshop that Papalia conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a number of images and videos documenting various instances of Papalia’s Blind Field Shuttle walking tour and his See for Yourself non-visual museum tour project—in which visitors close their eyes and embark on a one-on-one tour while art objects, architectural details and other museum visitors are described to them by a tour guide.

Related programming:
Wednesday, September 4, 3pm: Non-visual Site Mapping at Chelsea Market
 Saturday, September 7, 3pm: Blind Field Shuttle  

Blind Field Shuttle walking tour is open to a group of 50 people and will take place on the High Line in conjunction with the opening. Participants will line up behind Papalia, link arms and will close their eyes for the entire hour-long experience . The tour will culminate in a group discussion.

Projects will be recorded and documented in the gallery and online. For more information, please contact Jessica Gildea, Associate Director of Programs:


You are closing your eyes. You have just entered the vast and vibrant dimension that is non-visual space. You put your hand on the shoulder of the person in front of you, and you lend your support to anyone who might want to join in this experience. You notice the pace of your breathing, you notice some sweat on your palms. As your focus shifts away from what is visual, the acoustic environment crashes around you. It consumes you like a tidal wave. With each event your sense of spatial scale shifts, and shifts again. A tight corridor, a field, of color. A wave of traffic. Your footsteps. You focus on the sound. You feel secure in knowing that you can rely on the person in front of you, and you begin to relax. You ease into your gait. You notice the pace of your breathing. You begin to trust in this practice.

—Reflection upon experiencing the Blind Field Shuttle, 2013


I design experiences that allow those involved to expand their perceptual mobility and claim access to public and institutional spaces. Often requiring trust and closeness, these engagements disorient the participant while introducing new modes of orientation that allow for perceptual and sensorial discovery. Each walking tour, workshop, collaborative performance, public intervention, museum project and art object that I produce is a temporary system of access—a gesture that contributes to a productive understanding of accessibility. As an open-sourcing of my own access, my work makes visible the opportunities for learning and knowing that become available through the non-visual senses. It is a chance to unlearn looking and to take ones first few steps into a non-visual world.



Blind Orientations: Walking, Stumbling, and Turning towards New Points of View by Amanda Cachia

Carmen's Parking Lot by Harrell Fletcher

 YOUNG ART CRTICSStephanie Snyder on Carmen Papalia

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1981, Carmen Papalia is a Social Practice artist who makes participatory projects on the topic of access as it relates to public space, the Art institution and visual culture. His work has been featured as part of exhibitions and programming at: The Whitney Museum of American Art, the L.A Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Grand Central Art Center, the Canter Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, the Portland Art Museum, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

In 2011, he was awarded a residency at Mildred’s Lane, where he developed a site-specific rendition of the Blind Field Shuttle that traversed the sonically stunning natural landscapes of Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. In 2012, he served as the Mellon Tri-College Creative Resident and offered a series of improvisational Blind Field Shuttle walks for students and staff at Haverford and Bryn Mawr College.

Papalia holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and a Master of Fine Arts from Portland State University. He has lectured on his work at the University of Sunderland (UK), the California College of the Arts, Portland State University, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, the University of Michigan, York University, and at Emily Carr University. His recent writings can be found in Stay Solid: A Radical Handbook for Youth (AK Press, 2013); Reference Points: Temporary Services (Publication Studio, 2013); and in the “Museum Experience and Blindness” issue of Disability Studies Quarterly.

Papalia’s upcoming projects include a series of experimental programs about access and visitor experience that will take place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.