2023 Wasserman Forum: Altered Access

Event flyer with a light blue architectural blueprint in the background reads: Altered Access Max Wasserman Forum. List Center logo sits at the bottom. Event logo features a tilted A that extends into the shape of an L forming the first two letters of the word Altered.

The 2023 Max Wasserman Forum: Altered Access brings together artists, educators, and curators to discuss current disability discourse within the arts and museum institutions.

This year’s Wasserman Forum will consist of two days of hybrid programming including a virtual keynote address, and three hybrid panel discussion. As part of this program the List Center will stage three performances prior to the keynote address of Liza Sylvestre and Christopher Jones Flashlight Project, which addresses a need to reconfigure conversation models in order to consider individuals with differing levels of sensory ability. Registration is available for individual programs with options for tuning in via live stream. 

About Altered Access

The 2023 Max Wasserman Forum: Altered Access brings together artists, educators, and curators to discuss current disability discourse within the arts and museum practices. The Americans with Disability Act (the civil rights law signed in 1990) prohibits discrimination against those with a disability; however, inadequacies in access persist. In the years since that landmark legislation, the related fields of disability studies and crip theory—a discourse at the intersection of disability and queer studies, which foregrounds the complexity of disabled experience—have increasingly influenced art institutions on a broader level.

Altered Access will center voices in the arts and disability practice in three panels to consider aspects of digital access and spatial design, and how museums can serve as places of healing. What if access thinking was integrated into the installation of artworks and the creation of programs at the initial stages rather than as an afterthought? What critical questions, experimentation, and creative thought could be built into these preliminary phases? The forum will also explore other innovative approaches that implement accessible, inclusive practices, which every organizational and institutional model can apply in developing a fresh look at how disabled artists, audiences, and museums can work together.

About The Max Wasserman Forum

The Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art was established in memory of Max Wasserman (MIT Class of 1935), a founding member of the Council for the Arts at MIT. This public forum was endowed through the generosity of the late Jeanne Wasserman and addresses critical issues in contemporary art and culture through the participation of renowned scholars, artists, and arts professionals. The Forum is organized and presented by the MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Day & Time

April 21–22, all day


Free, but advance registration is required


Panteha Abareshi
Owólabi Aboyade
Emily Barker
Taraneh Fazeli 
Kevin Gotkin
Sara Hendren
Christopher Jones and Liza Sylvestre
Noëmi Lakmaier
Yo-Yo Lin
Park McArthur
Cannach MacBride
Carmen Papalia
Finnegan Shannon

Participant Bios


All in-person attendees will be required to wear masks at all times, with the exception of actively eating or drinking.

ASL interpreters and real-time closed captioning in English will be available. 

The on-site location is wheelchair accessible.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Opening Night

Friday, April 21, 5:30–7:30 PM

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Building What Doesn't Harm: Emily Barker
  • Keynote Address: Park McArthur
A color photograph of a sunlit scene showing flat boards of different sizes and materials laid across a sandy area leading to a campfire.

Park McArthur, How to get a wheelchair over sand, 2013 8.5 x11 inches C-print

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Panel: To Build

Saturday, April 22, 10–11:30 AM

Speakers: Noëmi Lakmaier, Carmen Papalia, Finnegan Shannon
Moderated by Sara Hendren

This panel includes three creative practitioners whose work embodies speculative, friction-ful, playful, and critical dialogue with the built world.

A blue bench in a yellow room. White text on bench reads, "I'd like more time with this artwork but all this standing is painful. Sit if you agree."

Finnegan Shannon, Do you want us here or not (MMK) - Bench 3, 2021, MUSEUM MMK FÜR MODERNE KUNST, Acquired with generous support from the City of Frankfurt, photo: Axel Schneider

Panel: The Body

Saturday, April 22, 1–2:30 PM

Speakers: Panteha Abareshi, Christopher Jones and Liza Sylvestre, Yo-Yo Lin
Moderated by Kevin Gotkin 

These panelists create visual systems that make visible and reinvent how bodies move in spaces. This discussion will focus on the body as a mode to transformation, creation, and embodiment. 

Detail of view of a mixed media sculpture, A Mistranslation. Beige, plastic extremities are surrounded by bright yellow cords and the aqua colored legs of a chair

Panteha Abareshi, A MISTRANSLATION (detail), 2022. 

Panel: To Heal

Saturday, April 22, 3:30–5:00 PM

Speakers: Owólabi Aboyade, Cannach MacBride
Moderated by Taraneh Fazeli 

This panel brings together creative practitioners who investigate—in their collaborations and individually—what it means to use the space of art for healing themselves, their communities, and natural kin, as well as for instantiating new modes of care.

In front of a TV monitor, a black man with locks stands holding a microphone. He’s surrounded by a small crowd of people, all seated in chairs

Will See (Owolabi Aboyade) performing at the closing reception for "Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time," 2019 at Red Bull Arts Detroit (Detroit, MI). From left: Taraneh Fazeli, Will See, Wayne Curtis. Photo by Joe Gall

Parallel Programming

Flashlight Project (FP)

Friday, April 21, 2023 

Liza Sylvestre with Christopher Jones
Registration Forthcoming 

Flashlight Project (FP) addresses a need to reconfigure conversation models in order to consider individuals with differing levels of sensory ability. Join us in a “conversation” organized around a gesture of visibility and identification. FP is interested in how exploring the intersection of learned systems of body and language disrupts systems of normativity. 

In a pitch black room, two people facing each other, hold up flashlights to illuminate their faces

Liza Sylvestre and Christopher Robert Jones, Flashlight Project, John Hansard Gallery, 2022. Photo: Nosa Malcolm