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Elizabeth Sweeney

Elizabeth Sweeney is a visual artist, arts researcher, educator and curator. She is also a neurodivergent queer of Acadian settler decent, who grew up in rural Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia. She has a BFA in Studio Art from Concordia University (2001), a B.Ed from the University Of Ottawa (2005) and an MA in Critical Disability Studies from York University (2012), where she focused on disability art and contemporary curatorial practice. She has worked at The National Gallery of Canada, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and currently works at The Canada Council for the Arts. Elizabeth frequently presents and guest lectures on the topic of art criticism, activist museum praxis and contemporary disability arts. She is also a core founding member of the Black Triangle Arts Collective. In 2019, Elizabeth was awarded a two-year Chalmers Art Fellowship for her project Premise/Shift.

She lives with her Indo-Acadian family in Ottawa, located on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation.

Endurance Tests (2019-2020) is a diptych that includes a video, Enduring Distorted Space (2019) and an image Endurance Report (2020).


I was diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities in the final weeks of high school. As such, I went through public education without any additional support, while enduring constant criticism for my lack of effort and continued academic weakness. In my final years of high school, I discovered that it would take exactly one minute to slowly write “one more minute left in class” in opposite directions using both hands. And so, for each minute of class I would write a line, until the class was finally over. 

Enduring Distorted Space (2019) recreates this ritual, while Endurance Report (2020) is a chronological compilation of report card feedback I received from grade 1 to 12. 

In the chapter “Along Disabled Lines: Claiming spatial agency through installation art” (2016) Amanda Cachia explores the work of geographer B.J. Gleeson and the concept of “enduring distorted space”. She explains through Gleeson that due to inaccessibility, which "‘exacerbates the distorting effect of disability’ (Gleeson 1996:389) - Disabled people must therefor inhabit and endure distorted space, which is the social space of the ostensibly “normal” person” (Cachia 2016:242).

Elizabeth Sweeney - Enduring Distorted Space, 2019 (Audio Description)
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Elizabeth Sweeney - Endurance Report, 2020 (Audio Description)
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“Endurance Report” by Elizabeth Sweeney from 2020. Elizabeth says, “It is a chronological compilation of report card feedback I received from grade 1 to 12”. The work features hand-written notes under a title of “Comments”.
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