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Ker Wallwork:
Merg

Intervention

19–27 November 2022

Ker Wallwork is the recipient of the first Baltic x Shape Emergent Residency. Emergent is a new hybrid residency and support programme for early-career artists, delivered in partnership with Shape Arts, a disability-led organisation based in London. Wallwork has a multi-disciplinary practice spanning moving image, drawing, text, and sculpture. Their work is about language, queerness, sickness and the welfare state, and is broadly concerned with miscommunication.

During their residency, Wallwork is staging an intervention on Baltic’s Level 5 viewing platform and in other areas of the building. Titled, Merg (2020–ongoing) the intervention will take place over several days. The work takes the form of a benefits letter, handed out to visitors by Baltic Crew, enclosed in the infamous, now discontinued, brown envelopes used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Addressed to Joseph Rank, the original owner of Baltic Flour Mills, and to some of the first people to work at the mill when it opened, the letter incorporates direct quotes and language from the DWP’s guidance for benefit assessors.

Merg is part of a series of works chronicling the logic and language of austerity that has been used to justify increasing privatisation of the Health and Care sectors, and welfare reforms, which have had a devastating impact on the lives of many sick and disabled people. The letters will include a postcard with a still image from Wallwork’s moving image work Whatever, Pedant (2020).

The Baltic x Shape Arts Emergent Residency is supported by The Foyle Foundation.


Biography

Ker Wallwork is a London-based artist with a multi-disciplinary practice spanning moving-image, drawing, text and sculpture. Recurrent themes in their work are language, queerness, sickness and the welfare state. They have worked with writers, scientists, academics and actors to develop work that explores materiality in relation to specific social and historic contexts.

Shape Arts

Shape Arts is a disability-led organisation breaking barriers to creative excellence. Shape Arts delivers a range of projects supporting marginalised artists, as well as training cultural venues to be more inclusive and accessible for disabled people as employees, artists, and audiences. Running alongside this portfolio is the NLHF funded National Disability Movement Archive and Collection (NDMAC), a radical collecting and retelling of the Disability Rights Movement’s heritage story; and, until recently led by Shape, Unlimited, which, largely supported by Arts Council and British Council funding, provides a platform for disabled artists to develop, produce and show ambitious and high-quality work, and which aims to transform perceptions of how the work of disabled artists is received in the mainstream art world.


Accessibility

Below are resources and alternative ways to explore this artwork. You can find out more about accessibility at Baltic here.

Text:
The letter is available in Large Print and in Braille.

Download a Large Print version of the letter as a pdf here or a Word document here.

Audio:
An audio-recorded version of the letter is available below and on Level 5, with headphones and seating.



Website:
You can use Recite Me, a web accessibility and language toolbar, across Baltic's website to make web pages, text and documents more accessible for you. The Recite Me toolbar includes text read aloud or translated into 35 different languages. You can find Recite Me on the top left corner of the page, click the 'Accessibility Tools' button.

If you need any help, please talk to one of our friendly and knowledgeable Crew team.