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  • Chris McMillan

Armed with a camera, the blind capture their world

11th June 2009

Armed with a camera, the blind capture their world

By Johanna Yueh

It's an almost counterintuitive question: Can the physically disabled become artists? The answer depends, to a certain extent, on how one defines art. As the expression of one's personal interpretation of the world around him, art can be created by just about anyone. And, after all, if Beethoven could produce musical masterpieces without hearing them, surely the visually impaired staff of Beijing One Plus One Cultural Exchange Centre can become photographers.

And so they did. One Plus One, an organization run by people with disabilities that aims to provide media outlets and support for the disabled, teamed up in May with the international group PhotoVoice to train eight of its staff to use photography as a way to communicate their experiences of the world around them. After a week's worth of workshops, during which they learned photography techniques and partook of trust-building activities, participants were unleashed into Beijing – sometimes with a partner and other times alone – to record moments in their lives. The result: Sights Unseen, an exhibit of 16 photos that record everything from light-hearted, everyday debaucheries to windows into more intimate secrets.

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