Social Science research questions what it is to be in an ageing body through a VR exhibition

Lindsay Seers Inside
The Care(less) VR experience lasts for 20 minutes (Photo courtesy of Tom Thistlewaite)

University of Birmingham research inspires a highly original immersive 360-degree VR film by British artist Lindsay Seers. The work uses the hallucinatory quality of VR technology to convey an embodied experience of what it is to be in an ageing body. Ikon Gallery, Birmingham presents Care(less) (2019) this February, bridging the gap between art and social sciences in a new and innovative form.

Care(less) (2019) is an OPCARE artist commission responding to new research by the University of BirminghamUniversity of Brighton and University of Lincoln, supported by the Wellcome Trust Enrichment Fund, into the experiences of older people receiving care they pay for themselves. In dissecting the infrastructures that are failing those needing to be cared for, the work is informed by individual case studies and aims to expand public conversation about the value of care. In the UK and across most of Europe, people are living longer and older people increasingly make up a greater proportion of our population. Despite this ageism is a commonly experienced form of prejudice and discrimination.

Dr Denise Tanner, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Birmingham comments: “Older people are often presented as a ‘burden’ on limited health and social care resources, ‘blocking’ hospital beds and draining the resources of younger generations. But we all need care from others at certain times and the balance between us being givers or receivers of care shifts at different points in our lives. Many of us manage our own fear of being old by keeping it at a distance. Care(less) helps bring the experience of needing care closer to home, and thus helps us to understand that needing support from others and being willing to give it is part of what connects us as people. It is not something to be abhorred or avoided, but to be valued and celebrated as part of human experience.”

Care(less) was exhibited for the first time at Fabrica gallery, Brighton (5 October – 24 November 2019) and is part of an ongoing exploration around the ethics of care in partnership with Fabrica and Frequency Festival.

Care(less) opens Saturday 15 – Sunday 23 February (closed Monday 17 February), the VR experience lasts for 20 minutes and has limited capacity. The Artist’s talk requires booking for Saturday 15 February, 6-7pm. Lindsay Seers and George Vasey, Curator at Wellcome Collection, discuss Seers’ installation Care(less).

Dr Denise Tanner, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, will introduce the Artist’s talk event. Denise is Research Lead for Solihull site of the Older People: Care and Self-funding Experiences (OPCARE) project.

Notes to editors:

For more information or interviews, please contact: Hasan Salim Patel, Communications Manager (Arts, Law and Social Sciences), on +44 (0) 121 415 8134 or contact the press office out of hours on +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

For more information about the exhibition, high-res images and to request interviews please contact Rebecca Small or Laura Jaunzems on +44 (0) 121 248 0708.

About University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

About Ikon

Ikon is an internationally acclaimed contemporary art venue situated in central Birmingham. Established in 1964 by a group of artists, Ikon is an educational charity and works to encourage public engagement with contemporary art through exhibiting new work in a context of debate and participation. The gallery programme features artists from around the world and a variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation. Ikon’s off-site programme develops dynamic relationships between art, artists and audiences outside the gallery. Projects vary enormously in scale, duration and location, challenging expectations of where art can be seen and by whom. Education is at the heart of Ikon’s activities, stimulating public interest in and understanding of contemporary visual art. Through a variety of talks, tours, workshops and seminars, Ikon’s Learning Team aims to build dynamic relationships with audiences, enabling visitors to engage with, discuss and reflect on contemporary art.