Take Care

Blackwood Gallery
September 11, 2017–March 10, 2018
Curated by Letters & Handshakes

Because care is not a domestic question but rather a public matter and generator of conflict.

Precarias a la Deriva

Take Care involves artists, activists, curators, performers, and researchers critically engaging the crisis of care. Encompassing a five-month exhibition series, workshops, and a publication program, Take Care is conceived as a follow-up to I stood before the source, a group exhibition curated by Letters & Handshakes in fall 2016 for the Blackwood Gallery. That exhibition featured artists confronting the aesthetic problem of representing contemporary capitalism, and concluded with this impulse: to imagine a “shift from the metrics of accumulation to the requirements of care as an ordering principle of social relations.”

Anatomizing the crisis of care and its systemic underpinnings, Take Care pushes back against both the low cultural visibility of care work and the prevailing extractivist attitude toward care, which, as Nancy Fraser puts it, treats care, like nature, as a free, infinite resource—a logic to which this project’s title signals. (1) Rather than take care for granted, we embark on this project as a transdisciplinary inquiry into care, setting out to explore care’s heterogeneous and contested meanings, practices, and sites, as well as the political, economic, and technological forces currently shaping care. Although we strive to elevate care, the intention is not to position care as a cure or panacea or even as benign: care involves relations of power in which concern and control, empathy and exhaustion, dependence and interdependence, the systemic and the intimate, responsibility and obligation are entangled.

The exhibition, workshops, and publishing program comprising Take Care are organized around five themes or circuits of care: Labour of Curation, Care Work, Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid, Stewardship, and Collective Welfare.

Read the preliminary project statement here.


Labour of Curation
September 11–30, 2017
Recalling the etymology of curate (curare: “to take care of”), Labour of Curation views cultures of work and interaction in art institutions through a care lens, and reflects on art’s implication in, rather than detached observation of, the crisis of care.

Care Work
October 16–November 4, 2017
Traversing care as a social gesture, a job, and a political site, Care Work presents counter-narratives of the provision of care, care workers’ struggles, and caring labour’s transformation through marketization, migration, and technology.

Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid
November 20–December 9,  2017
This circuit turns to support structures and collaborative practices beyond institutional spaces that are conventionally associated with care (hospitals, long-term residential care facilities) to consider care as a disposition, a system of reciprocity, a radical act, and an elusive goal within communities of art and activism alert to the challenge of sustainability.

January 8–27, 2018
decentres the human as the privileged recipient or scene of care, and forefronts epistemically-diverse conceptions and practices of care that centre upon relationships to land and nonhumans, and foregrounds the work of Indigenous women, artists, and communities.

Collective Welfare
February 12–March 10, 2018 
Collective Welfare
addresses the “welfare state” as the contested dominant public channel of differentially distributed care and evaluates design, whether of policy or of place, as integral to centring care in social relations.

(1) “In capitalist societies, the capacities available for social reproduction are accorded no monetized value. They are taken for granted, treated as free, and infinitely available as ‘gifts’, which require no attention or replenishment. It’s assumed that there will always be sufficient energies to sustain social connections on which economic production, and society more generally, depend. This is very similar to the way that nature is treated in capitalist societies, as an infinite reservoir from which we can take as much as we want and into which we can dump any amount of waste. In fact, neither nature nor social reproduction are infinite; both of them can be stretched to the breaking point.” (Fraser, “Capitalism’s Crisis of Care,” 2016: 91)

Image Credit
Tania Willard, Basket Rescue Operation (talking to Peter Morin and remembering Dana Claxton’s talk for the BCMA in Whistler) from the series Only Available Light, 2016. Courtesy the artist and grunt gallery.

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