Panteha Abareshi

Bodily limitations recast: Panteha Abareshi and Kayley Berezney

The artists' sculptures, paintings, and video works, now on view at Fuller Rosen Gallery, challenge the ableism of the art world

I haven’t left home in a bit, and when I do, it’s like the moment after seeing a matinee: I emerge from the dark theater of my apartment, walk outside, and everything becomes big and bright. Fuller Rosen Gallery is no different. Entering the space, I slather on a layer of their provided hand sanitizer and listen to the mechanical whirring sounds emitting from a video along the gallery’s right wall. To the left, bright lights gleam down onto textural forms. Already I know this exhibition harbors no fear of the senses—mine are fully engaged.

Works by Panteha Abareshi and Kayley Berezney. Image courtesy Fuller Rosen Gallery.

Panteha Abareshi and Kayley Berezney, the two artists featured in NO SANCTUARY at Fuller Rosen, confront the prevalence of ableism in the art world. In both artists’ works, the body becomes more dynamic and versatile—not despite the limitations of disability, but because of them. Neither artist shies away from the fear, isolation, and rapid changes they face as artists with health challenges. Abareshi has Sickle Cell Beta Zero Thalassemia, a genetic condition causing debilitating chronic pain. Her videos feel urgent in their response to this lived experience; they’re severe and coarse, but that atmosphere provides penetrating insight into the dynamics of power and powerlessness within bodily perception. Berezney’s experience with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer is unveiled in her sculptures, which feel like stand-ins for bodies in recovery. They’re enticing, but also feel heavy, fatigued.