The Archive of an Unseen

Now on
  • Installation
A yellow card for registered handicapped people. In the centre of the card is a passport sized image of Christopher aged 14 wearing a dark shirt and jacket. There is a redaction box covering his eyes. Written below the image is “to be returned to Social Services Department if you move from Brent when card is no longer required’.
Brent social services certificate of registration, Christopher Samuel. © Christopher Samuel.

Scroll through fragments of the artist’s life story, growing up black, disabled and working class in the 1980s, in this interactive artwork.

Christopher Samuel’s work addresses the imbalance of representation in medical and social archives to build a better understanding of the wider spectrum of the human experience.

Move through a digital archive of Samuel’s childhood from before his diagnosis at age seven, being registered as disabled at age 14, through to leaving high school. Layers of audio, video and photography form what he describes as an “expanded documentary” of his life. These are presented in a custom-built re-creation of a Microform reader – a viewing instrument usually operated by specialists – echoing the medical scrutiny he experienced as a child.  

‘The Archive of an Unseen’ is commissioned and supported by Wellcome Collection and by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists, with funding from Arts Council England.

Visit us

Free admission

Galleries open Tuesday–Sunday, Opening times

Medicine Man gallery, level 1

Step-free access is available to all floors of the building

Large-print guides, transcripts and magnifiers are available in the gallery

All our accessibility services