Plato’s Paradox 18 APR – 15 MAY

NIKI HILL



The allegory of the cave: “Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was.”

For this photographic exhibition the shrouded figures and their poses, represent the prisoners of Plato's Cave. The abstracted landscape details are the images projected onto the wall of the cave in front of the figures. Three  shrouded figures share a calm reality from the reflections casting shadows on the cave wall, the fourth has turned to face the true reality. In this series, the function is both metaphor and visual counterpoint to the images with shrouded figures. Photographs of landscape details have been projected over a figure shrouded in a stretch fabric, set against a black background. The resulting images conjure alienated beings in darkness. These images relate to Hill’s lived experience as the mother of a child born with cerebral palsy. This circumstance allowed her to see that we live in a largely ableist society that discriminates against those with disability and their families.

In the abstract of her 2017 masters research essay on Art and Ableism, Hill writes: “To understand disability requires adaptation and thinking beyond what is normal. There are psychological barriers to disability that run deep into the fabric of society. These barriers are often silent and unspoken, those with disabilities experience feeling shunned from society. It is hard to understand unless you actually experience it yourself. Ableism describes discrimination against disabled people in favour of able-bodied people.”