Support Acts: Curating, Caring and Social Reproduction

Reckitt, Helena. 2016. Support Acts: Curating, Caring and Social Reproduction. Journal of Curatorial Studies, 5(1), pp. 6-30. ISSN 2045-5836 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article considers the changing definitions of curatorial labour in the light of affective economies of care and love. It examines how recent conceptions of curating shift emphasis from caring for objects and collections to producing and managing social networks, collective energies and professional relationships. While curators prioritize their care for artworks and artists, they often overlook the low-status and infrastructural activities that sustain curatorial production. At the same time, by over-identifying with their work, and instrumentalizing their personal relationships and energies, curators risk self-exploitation and burn-out. By recognizing curating’s inter-dependent nature, this article prompts a redefinition of curatorial care and calls for a reallocation of curatorial and institutional priorities and resources.

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Helena Reckitt has drawn on and discussed the article in the following public events:

'Affect and Curating: Feeling the Curatorial,' panel discussion at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 19 January 2016

'New Institutionalities #2 Feminist curating; an active network?,' workshop and panel discussion at Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 13 July 2017

'Affect and Relationality,' session as part of 'Affect and Exhibitions Workshop,' Hrafnseyri, The Westfjords of Iceland, 26 August 2017

'Curating and Caring' Workshop, University of Toronto, Toronto, 9 September, 2017

The article informed the research for the exhibition and public events programme 'Habits of Care' at the University of Toronto's Blackwood Gallery, September - October 2017


curating and caring, curating and affect, feminist curating, social reproduction, art patronage, precarious labour in art

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1 January 2016Accepted
1 February 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

19 Sep 2017 16:40

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:34

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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