The three sculptures. Snail woman, acrylic body with ipads embedded into it, claw machine with doll clutter inside
Accessibility Art Narrative/storytelling

The Work That Has to be Done to Convince Yourself to Do Anything At All

A series of sculptures probing the disconnect between the mind and the body, inspired by the struggles of living with invisible disability.


Zoe Cohen


Rosalie Yu


A series of three sculptures probing the disconnect between mind and body- Exploring topics like the struggle to get ourselves to do things we want to do, how a body outside hides chaos inside, and how we are trapped within rigid structures that do not serve us. The first sculpture is titled Woman Emerging From Snail Shell which depicts a woman pulling herself out of a snail shell, a metaphor for the struggle between what the mind wants and what it is able to convince the body to do. The second is a video sculpture titled Outside of My Body, Inside the Disco which shows the ephemeral nature of how the mind views the body, and how the space and stimulus around us manifests in our perceptions of self. The third, an interactive bedroom sculpture called Invisible Work (Lost Objects) where the objects tell stories of how invisible disability of the mind is physically embodied in space.

The three sculptures. Snail woman, acrylic body with ipads embedded into it, claw machine with doll clutter inside


In terms of the mind body problem, my research is based around two main texts: Descartes’ Meditations and John Perry’s A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. In mind body dualism, especially that described by Rene Descartes, mind and body are completely separated because of their essential qualities. This makes sense - bodies are physical and minds are not. Can the two ever converge if they are opposite? However, Descartes ignores the fact that our minds (even emotional) attachment to our bodies affects us deeply. How we are treated by others is influenced greatly by what we look like and what happens to our body affects our mind, like trauma. In A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality, John Perry discusses what makes someone who they are. The book is a dialogue between Gretchen Weirob, a woman on her deathbed after a motorcycle injury and her friend Miller. Her friend is trying to comfort her by developing an argument for how she may survive even after her death. The two argue about what it is that makes a person that specific person, discussing the mind, body and soul. Weirob believes our identity is our body and consciousness while Miller thinks identity is based on a continuous flow of consciousness, tracked through memory. We know who we are when we wake up before we open our eyes and see our bodies, and false memories not only exist, but are easy to create. I also read several books on ADHD, invisible disability, and art and disability. Issues and Approaches to Art for Students with Special Needs, a collection of essays, has a chapter called A Disability Aesthetic, Inclusion, and Art Education, written by Doug Blandy. The book discussed disability aesthetic, speaking about performance artist Cheryl Wade. She said that the aesthetic tell stories of those with disabilities, "where we came from, where we're going, how we got here"(Blandy, 35). It is art that "take us out of isolation... Art that embraces every complex part of who we are, alone and together, in this horrifying and exquisite journey." Among the other books I read are Accidental Intolerance, and Twice Exceptional. Most of all, I have 26 years of experience being myself, and figuring out how to convince myself to do anything at all.

Technical Details

Sculpture 1 / Woman Emerging From Snail Shell: Paper maché, acrylic gesso for texture. Sculpture 2 / Outside of My Body Inside the Disco: Laser cut acrylic, hand-drawn animations made in Adobe Animate, played on iPads embedded inside. Sculpture 3 / Invisible Work (Lost Objects): Claw machine, plaster, sculpey, air-dry clay, acrylic gouache, doll clothes and various accessories, found objects, vinyl stickers on RFID coins, RFID reader, Arduino Uno

an acrylic sculpture of a body with three animations for the face, chest, and bottom. The face is a breakfast plate with the food arranged as a face. The chest is a video camera with reels as breasts. The bottom is a grave stone mimicking the shape of hips.A claw machine game filled with doll size clutter. A sculpture of a person in bed lies beneath the clutter.A closeup of the claw machine sculpture. The person is lying in bed inside the machine and it is surrounded by clutter