Collective annotation of Helen Chadwick’s Viral Landscapes (1989-1990) made with BA Culture, Criticism and Curation Year 1 students, spring 2021

Curating and Care

A course for BA Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins College

Developed in collaboration with Andy Marsh

2020 - 2022

As many artists and cultural workers feel the increasing pressures of competition, insecurity and overwork, a politics of care and new forms of solidarity are becoming increasingly important in discourses and practices of art and curating. For example, artists and curators choose to work in collectives to share opportunities and resources instead of competing for them individually. Artists with chronic illness and disabilities make increasingly clear their needs in order to be able to participate in the art world. Some galleries and institutions are starting to listen and adapt. We want you, a generation of young curators and cultural workers, to consider care a central aspect of curatorial practice that is relevant to how each and every project plays out.  

In the course of the global Coronavirus pandemic, debates around the value of care and the protection of health have come centre stage. But thinkers and practitioners have been working on health and care for a lot longer, especially disability activists and theorists and feminist thinkers and organisers. Theories and practices of care are significantly interwoven with critiques of capitalism and austerity, as well as with demands for universal social protections and labour rights. This is to say that the topics of care and health are inherently political. Who gives and who receives care? How are these relations gendered? Who pays for care? Who does not receive the care they need? How does this map onto structural inequalities? How is care work valued? Could our societies and economies function without care work? These are just some of the questions this course will explore.  

During this course, you will be introduced to the topics of sickness, health, wellbeing, and care through guest speakers, readings, workshops, online art works, and group discussions. As appropriate to the concerns of this unit, you will learn to consider how the markers of gender, race, class and disability intersect in every aspect of health and care. 
Beyond learning about the theories and politics of health and care, we ask you to put this into practice by considering how to work with care in your groups on your curatorial projects.  You are part of a group from the start of the unit and your groups can become a space for exchange, mutual support and shared creativity. 

My essay on Care Labels as a pedagogical tool reflects on an aspect of this course.