This piece is in a space that begins with a short, narrow hallway
before 4 descending stairs leading to a small L-shaped room.
In a corner directly in front of the entrance is a 40cm convex mirror
which reveals the rest of the room which is empty except for the walls
which are painted blue on the lower half. The top of the walls are white,
and meet the blue in a wavy line recalling a waterline. The blue color r
eferences water as well as public signs concerning disability,
such as accessible routes to building entrances, parking spaces, and
locations of hospitals.
If I were seated in my wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs, the top of the waves would be just above my eyes, while the bottom of the waves would be just below my nose: a point at which the water could overtake me but survival is still possible. The wavy blue line is at the same level all around the room, so that when one is at the top of the stairs the water is lower, resting around one’s seated legs.
The room is open so that those who can use stairs may enter the space, while those like myself who cannot or choose not to, have the preferred view from a lower height at the top of the stairs. Witnessing those that enter the space via the stairs is part of the experience of the work, recreating everyday life for many disabled people.
The title is in reference to the 12 disabled people who died on July 14 and 15, 2021 during a flood at the Lebenshilfe Haus in Sinzig, Germany when there was not enough staff to evacuate the people who lived on the bottom floor. An area of refuge is a designated space in a U.S. building where disabled people would wait to be rescued in an emergency.