The Painting of a Disabled Man from the 16th century.
a participatory action research project

Painting of a disabled=
This page provides the following information:


A painting from the 16th century that had not yet been taken notice of is the starting point of this project. For more than 400 years, this Painting of a Disabled Man has been part of the famous Chamber of Art and Curiosities at Ambras Castle near Innsbruck in Austria.

In the course of the project, two other historical paintings were found that are significant for the analysis of the cultural presentation of disability: a leaflet from 1620 showing Wolfgang Gschaidter, a carpenter with a disability, and a small picture from 1578, showing Elizabeth, a woman with a learning disability.

The discussion and analysis of different gazes towards men and women with disabilities are at the center of attention: Gazes at women and men with disabilities from the early modern times up until today – how can they be interpreted scientifically and artistically? How can women and men with disabilities contribute their knowledge to this today?

Historical starting point

3 pictures of the 16th/17th century:

Further Information

You can find more detailed information about the project, the method of PAR (participatory action research) and about the project's exhibition in a handout for a presentation at the San Francisco Bay Area Disability Studies Consortium on Feb. 23rd 2007:

Project partners

"Independent Living Innsbruck/Austria", "Institute of Educational Sciences, University of Innsbruck" and "Collection Ambras Castle, Innsbruck, Museum of Art History, Vienna". Scientific program TRAFO.

The project group

project team
Heinz Brandmayr, Mag.a Karin Flatz, Mag.a Petra Flieger, Dr. Thomas Kuster, Dr. Christian Mürner, Mag.a Ulrike Pfeifenberger, Mag.a Margot Rauch, jur. Anna Reiter, Mag.a Christine Riegler, A.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Volker Schönwiese, DSA David Sporschill, Mag. Harald Stauber, Georg Urban, DSAin Erika Zwicklhuber

Documentary film
The Portrait of a Disabled Man.
Gazes at the history of people with disabilities

scene from  the making of the film
Running time: 45 minutes
Release date: 2008
Language: German
Closed captioned: available in German and English
Visual description/ Audio description: available in German and English

Film production:
Director/ producer: Bernd Thomas (arbeitsgemeinschaft behinderung und medien e.V., Munich, Germany) and Volker Schönwiese (University of Innsbruck)

Prof. Volker Schönwiese
Institute of Educational Sciences,
University of Innsbruck,
Liebeneggstr. 8,
A-6020 Innsbruck/ AUSTRIA
Tel.: 0043- (0)512-507-4049

The film can be ordered at:
ABM - Arbeitsgemeinschaft Behinderung und Medien,
Bonner Platz 1,
D- 80803 München/ GERMANY
Telefon: +49 89 307992-0
Fax: +49 89 307992-22

The film on YouTube

New! The film "The portrait of a Disabled Man" is also available on Youtube.

Awards for the documentary

International film award 2010
at "Picture disability film festival" in Calgary/Kanada

Festival website:

Category Over 30 minutes: Award

receiving the Calgary Award
Volker Schönwiese und Bernd Thomas receive the award from Minister Mary Anne Jablonski (Government of Alberta/Canada), February 6, 2010
(photo: Jeff Yee/Calgary)

Jury Comments:

- good look at disability culture - exceptional cinematography - really draws you in - very educational - very interesting perspective - unique approach - historical art and disability - well done - well filmed - engaging - certainly worked - excellent - innovative - engaging - intriguing story - a mystery to be solved

Superfest 2010
international disability film festival, Berkeley California

"Achievement Award"
2010 the festival received 57 entries from 9 countries, competing for only thirteen awards.

receiving the Filmfest Berkeley award

Christine Riegler (member of the project group) receives the award from Liane C. Yasumoto (CDT/Superfest Director)

Award gala in Berkeley, California, on June 4 & 5, 2010

Further Information:

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