Presentation slide from my talk on my exhibition Sick and Desiring

Radical Acts of Care: Feminist Art, Healthcare, and Community

Chairs: Basia Sliwinska and Helena Shaskevich

Presenters: Ryann Donnelly, Stefanie Snyder, Nora Heidorn

College Art Association Annual Conference

February 2021

Following a 1982 breast cancer diagnosis, British photographer Jo Spence began documenting her embodied experiences of illness and care. Navigating an increasingly individualized notion of health and care under Margaret Thatcher's newly instituted "healthcare marketplace," Spence reimagines the 1970s feminist adage 'the personal is political' with a renewed sense of urgency. Placing her afflicted and affected body on display in The Picture of Health, she maps the devastating precarity wrought via neoliberal policymaking. Health crises from AIDS and COVID-19 to opioid and cancer highlight our social and economic global interconnectedness, and yet neoliberal States continue to institutionalize entrepreneurial and individualized care practices.

With this historic framework in mind, this panel seeks to address the shifting conceptual frameworks of health as care within feminist art from the 1970s to the present. From the consciousness-raising performances at the Feminist Studio Program in the 1970s to the "viral" net art of the 1990s, and "bioart" today, how have feminist artists addressing health crises imagined care outside of institutional frameworks while foregrounding embodiment-activating care as an ethical principle of feminist solidarity and collective responsibility?