Reducing concern for all aspects of human life has been one of the main consequences of neoliberal austerity policies, which have become even more visible during the global COVID-19 pandemic. In recent decades, neoliberalism has benefited from the individualistic notion of care, widely promoted in the form of “self-care” and its accompanying billion-dollar industry. The neoliberal spirit of capitalism speaks in the language of “self-care” to promote a compulsory fitness regimen for individual success, ignoring the reality of interdependence. Modern subjects of the so-called "developed" world are tasked with taking care of their overworked bodies, but less and less interested in the well-being of bodies outside the immediate environment, family, class, work environment, district, city, country. Long before the global pandemic began, feminist economists, sociologists and political theorists diagnosed a global health care crisis. The rapidly changing global socio-economic context requires the development of a new language around care - versus “caring for yourself”, including caring for the climate, caring for the Earth, caring for “others” (including other living things and “non-humans”) or planetary care that extends the caring relationship beyond human interdependence. Our planet Earth is a unique, living organism—and all its inhabitants are essential. For more than 4.5 billion years, it has been providing the common habitat for countless species which live in mutual dependence from each other and form the biosphere. It is time to redefine our relationship to this planet and its biological and cultural diversity and to care for, love, and protect it for future generations.
Historically, museum curators are responsible for the care, legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of others. But how can you regain self-care and self-care through supervision? How to better understand the politics of interdependence? How can we make caring for emancipatory and transformative curatorship meaningful? How to turn self-care into a political weapon? How to combine care and self-care in supervising? Why are contemporary art institutions so fond of talking about caring, while often remaining so lighthearted and non-inclusive? How can an artistic institution meaningfully embody and produce knowledge and a policy of care? From what ethical standpoint should care for nature and others be designed for modern exhibition programs? The crisis of recent years has exposed hidden cracks in the system, as well as the invisible infrastructures that support it: what is not working has suddenly become apparent. This is especially true in the cultural sector, museums and cultural institutions around the world were among the first to be forced to close their doors. Despite the challenges posed by the unprecedented crisis, many cultural institutions continued to provide resilience and support to their communities, adapting to new conditions and developing new ways to provide widespread access to culture, education, and identifying new curatorial strategies. Curating Practices in the 21st Century: Caring for the Arts, the Planet, and Others will focus on the contemporary challenges of designing exhibition and educational projects that could motivate all participants and visitors to a fair future.
Care has reentered the zeitgeist. This title of the educational course refers to the article Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times of Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese written for Social Text Volume 38 (published by Duke University Press) which introduced the topic of radical care by providing a genealogy of care as a vital but underexamined praxis of radical politics that provides spaces of hope in precarious times. Following recent theoretical interventions into the importance of self-care despite its susceptibility to neoliberal co-optation, the potentialities of self-care may be expanded outward to include other forms that push back against structural disadvantage. Care contains radical promise through a grounding in autonomous direct action and nonhierarchical collective work. However, because radical care is inseparable from systemic inequality and power structures, it can also be used to coerce subjects into new forms of surveillance and unpaid labor, to make up for institutional neglect, and even to position some groups against others, determining who is worthy of care and who is not. With care reentering the zeitgeist as a reaction to today’s political climate, radical care engages histories of grassroots community action and negotiates neoliberal models for self-care. Studies of care thereby prompt us to consider how and when care becomes visible, valued, and necessary within broader social movements. To that end, the articles in this collection locate and analyze the mediated boundaries of what it means for individuals and groups to feel and provide care, survive, and even dare to thrive in environments that challenge their very existence. As the traditionally undervalued labor of caring becomes recognized as a key element of individual and community resilience, radical care provides a roadmap for envisioning an otherwise.
In a recent interview, Angela Davis explicitly tied social change to care: “I think our notions of what counts as radical have changed over time. Self-care and healing and attention to the body and the spiritual dimension—all of this is now a part of radical social justice struggles. That wasn’t the case before.” Davis points to a growing awareness that individual impulses and interior lives, the intimate and banal details of family histories and personal experiences, are directly connected to external forces. Care, then, is fundamental to social movements. For examples we might look to the way that Indigenous peoples and their allies have rearticulated their positions as protectors rather than protesters, emphasizing the importance of caring for and being good stewards of the earth, or how Occupy-style actions emerged at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers to denounce the separation of migrant children from their families in “tender age camps” at the US border, positioning parental care (both to give and to receive it) as a human right. Long before the global pandemic began, feminist economists, sociologists and political theorists diagnosed a global health care crisis. A new language around caring, including climate care, Earth care, or planetary care, extends the caring relationship beyond human interdependence. The neoliberal spirit of capitalism speaks the language of self-care to promote a compulsory fitness regimen for individual success, ignoring the reality of interdependence. Historically, museum curators are responsible for the care, legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of others. How can I regain self-care and self-care through supervision? What is the best way to understand the politics of interdependence? How can we make caring for emancipatory and transformative curatorship meaningful? How to turn self-care into a political weapon? How to combine care and self-care in supervising?
The program will not only encourage students to develop their personal curatorial practice through exhibitions, publications and events (the final group project will act as the culmination point of the course), but will also emphasize immersion in the history of the emergence of the curatorial profession, the history of exhibitions and contemporary critical theory. Therefore, reading groups and collective analyzes of the main texts of the most important contemporary philosophers, theorists and art critics will become an important part of the course. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, and independent research, students will be exposed to the most relevant debates in the modern curatorial field, especially when they intersect with social, political and ethical issues. The course program will be built on a constant dialogue with invited Russian and international experts in the field of art, curators, theorists, philosophers and cultural producers, which will contribute to the formation of a global international curatorial professional optics, and will also include behind-the-scenes visits to key art institutions in Moscow and in Russian regions. Meeting with curators of various Russian institutions will provide invaluable experience in getting to know real situations and professional problems of active practitioners of contemporary art.
The crisis of recent years has exposed hidden cracks in the system, as well as the invisible (infra)structures that support it: what does not work suddenly becomes apparent. This is especially true of the cultural sector, one of the many sectors of the economy affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Museums and cultural institutions around the world were among the first to be forced to close their doors. As tourism came to a standstill on nearly the entire planet, artists and cultural figures fell into a state of extreme economic and social turmoil. While some museums have reopened with significant restrictions, others are still facing the aftermath of the crisis behind closed doors. Despite the challenges posed by this unprecedented crisis, many cultural institutions continued to serve as a source of resilience and support for their communities, inventing and developing new ways to provide widespread access to culture, education, and identifying new curatorial strategies. The course will focus on the contemporary challenges facing the design of exhibition and educational projects that could motivate all participants and visitors to a just future. In such circumstances the need in radical care defined as a set of vital but underappreciated strategies for enduring precarious worlds and survival strategy for uncertain times becomes essential.