I knew I was starting to heal when I began taking photos in my hospital room. My camera had laid neglected in my bag since I was wheeled into the operating room. For days I couldn’t eat, walk to the restroom, or say with certainty what day it was, though the hospital psychiatrist asked me regularly.
You can tell from this portrait of Anthony Tusler as a young man in his wheelchair that he has always been bad-ass and cool. Wearing leg braces with cut-off levis, a wife beater that reveals a tattoo, leather cowboy boots and slicked back hair, he holds a beer in his right hand, leans forward into the frame and dares us to respond and judge. Fast forward a few decades and Anthony is still challenging us with new work and an ongoing mission to change the common currency of disability imagery. In his recent portraits of lives lived with disability he is documenting the movement (and the breadth of disability culture) in tender and subtle ways, that are a far cry from the drama of the march and the sit-in. His talk at the SFPL titled “Disability photographs: Civil Rights, Identity and Representation” shares some choice details of his life and work, and the development of his disability identity.