Habits of Care Exhibition Essay

Reckitt, Helena. 2017. Habits of Care Exhibition Essay. [Exhibition Catalogue]

micropublication_Labours of Curation.pdf - Published Version

Download (8MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Essay included in Labours of Curation, the first Circuit of the five-month curatorial platform Take Care at the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto.

The essay introduces the work of exhibiting artists Lisa Busby, Claire Fontaine, Deborah Ligorio,Paul Maheke, Raju Rage, Amie Siegel, Laura Yuile, and provides a critical context for the exhibition and its public events programme.

It discusses how In a contemporary context in which many individuals and groups feel under-valued and uncared for, the exhibition addresses the links between the care of the self and collective care, asking where they overlap, and where they diverge and conflict. Recalling the etymological roots of the word “curating” in the Latin word for “caring,” Habits of Care is prompted by concerns with how the rhetoric of care plays out in and beyond the fields of art and culture. The exhibition points to where care is typically invested, and where it falls short. Looking to earlier practices of caretaking and ethics in the light of current urgencies, the show raises questions about how we might develop new habits of care that encompass both human and nonhuman others.

Various artworks in the exhibition depict rituals of care and conservation, which in turn raise questions about the value accorded to cultural custodianship versus that placed on domestic and janitorial labour. Several artworks reflect on the political dimensions of self and collective care, fragility, and sustenance, and creative resistance, in relation to feminist writers including Shulamith Firestone and Audre Lorde. A thread linking the practice of several artists in the show links to the proposition that water acts as a medium for holding memories and conveying emotions, as well as storytelling and archive. Looking beyond strictly human concerns, the art of Deborah Ligorio points to the prospect that heterodox life forms might grow from uncanny technological/'natural' fusions. The work of Claire Fontaine is discussed as presenting contradictory positions on the care of the self and others, from the aggressively individualistic to objects that evoke forms of gathering and assemblage in which the presence of foreigners strengthens the collective body. Proposals for improving the conditions under which curatorial and cultural labour occurs are highlighted in relation to documents presented in the exhibition, and transformed into scores by Lisa Busby and performed by the Element Choir.

Various artworks in the exhibition play with the format of the self-help manual, the guided meditation, and the manifesto, the essay notes, while also foregrounding activities of caretaking, maintenance, and conservation. The exhibition, argues the essay, aims to prompt thoughts about new habits that are needed to allow us to take better care of others, and ourselves.

Item Type:

Exhibition Catalogue

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



11 September 2017

Event Location:

Toronto, Canada

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2017 12:13

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:39



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)