Don’t Freak

Created as part of a commission for the Onyx Collective initiated by Disability Arts Online, Don’t Freak and Don’t Stare (2022), incorporates double exposed and symmetrical portraits of the artist taken by others. The simple gesture of mirroring the self makes the familiar strange. As in the recent series of paintings, Mistry treads on the fine line between the hyper-visible and the overlooked.

The photographs are accompanied by a film Don’t Freak which similarly conjures a type of seeing that is oppressive and unreciprocated. In
the context of disability discourse — where the uninvited look, or
stare, becomes a form of violence — the work affronts our gaze.

Staring is a type of look that isn’t returned; consuming rather than collaborating with the other. It is the opposite of intimacy and equity: it’s a gaze that strips the subject of their agency. Mistry provokes us to stare and returns our look; bringing it back into a transaction between subjects.

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