You, Me and Autism by Colin Potsig – Side Gallery, Newcastle

27th March – 30th April 2017

Colin Potsig’s project You, Me and Autism was shown during World Autism Awareness Week (27th March – 2nd April 2017), presenting an interesting conversation between photography and Autism. Autism is a condition that is lifelong, affecting the person’s ability to perceive and interact with the world1. Potsig also has Autism, leading him to carry out the project to challenge the key characteristics and confronts them face on.

Photography and disability are two topics that are starting to come together. In history, they have been widely unsympathetic and misinformed. Contemporary art and particularly photography, are trying to challenge this. The work, shown in a small white wall gallery on the ground floor, is displayed in the way which mimics the way in which a person with autism perceives the world. The space is small and filled with other things, computers books and the front desk. The prints are placed close together, enhancing this sensation.

Potsig photographs his subjects, and frames them on the wall. He adds context to the work by disclosing the subjects name, their age and when they were diagnosed. When you first enter the gallery space, the framed black and white and colour prints on the wall with their contextualisation are the first to greet you. The artist statement is round the corner, hidden away. By removing this, Potsig is challenging the public perception of disability; particularly invisible disability. This is a concept that I am very interested in and is conveyed throughout my visual investigation of the invisible disability in my FMP.

Although not the most striking portraits, the style effectively conveys the lack of ability to perceive and convey emotions; which is associated with autism. Without the understanding of the condition, (a family member of mine Autism), the viewer may just disregard the portraits. Which enforces the theory that disability is a social issue that is largely overlooked by society as a whole due to lack of understanding. Therefore, Potsig’s work is commendable in this respect.


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