Curating and Caring: Three-Part Workshop

Reckitt, Helena. 2017. 'Curating and Caring: Three-Part Workshop'. In: Habits of Care. University of Toronto, Canada 9-23 September 2017. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Over the course of three meetings, workshop contributors drew on their experiences of working and participating in the visual art field to explore engrained curatorial habits of care, and the value systems that they reflect, as well as sharing their ideas for how these practices of care could be rethought and restructured. Discussing current and historical efforts to create ethical relations within the notoriously unregulated contemporary art sector, the workshop sought to generate new propositions for curating with care in a contemporary context in which many who are involved in the arts feel under-valued and uncared for.

Discussions were informed by readings from authors including Sara Ahmed, Binna Choi, Johanna Hedva, Marta Malo de Molina, Park McArthur, and a text by Victoria Horne, Kirsten Lloyd, Jenny Richards, and Catherine Spencer. Curatorial case studies discussed included Eastside Projects, Policy Show and CASCO, The Grand Domestic Revolution. The work of artists Alex Martinis Roe concerning the construction of feminist genealogies and generations, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles on maintenance, care and reproductive labour also provided key touchstones.

Devised and led by Helena Reckitt, the Workshop was realised with the administrative and facilitation assistance of Blackwood Gallery staff members Christine Shaw, Director/Curator; Jayne Wilkinson, Assistant Curator; and Joy Xiang, Curatorial Research Assistant.

The workshop was part of the programme for the exhibition ‘Habits of Care,’ curated by Helena Reckitt for the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga, which formed part of the first circuit in the five-month curatorial research program, Take Care, organised by Letters & Handshakes (September 2017–March 2018).

Workshop participants presented their collectively-generated Propositions for Curatorial Care at the third meeting as part of 'Care Crisis, Care Connective: An Open Forum on Cultural Work,' at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

Additional Information:

Workshop participants presented their collectively-generated Propositions for Curatorial Care at the public forum 'Care Crisis, Care Connective: An Open Forum on Cultural Work,' at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Their propositions developed from a series of starting points:

Our proposition is that there are no authorities.
Our proposition is to do all meetings outdoors.
Our proposition is that caring is not gendered.
Our proposition is to create communities of caregivers for all bodies within a workplace
Our proposition is to dismantle alienating structures within art spaces through sharing the title of curator.
Our proposition is to create an opportunity to really recognize each other and each other’s value.
Our proposition is that the people that perform maintenance and front of house or service roles switch places with those in administrative and management roles on a regular basis. 

Our proposition is to move our professional relations beyond people as producers to people as holistic beings, by speaking in person, skype, or on phone. To make meetings. 

Our proposition is to not do the maintenance work of art spaces and practices that are white, bourgeois, masculinist enclaves, and to question what our caring protects and nurtures.
Our proposition is...To stop performative allyship and give deep considerations to how to engage in an active role as an ally. 

Our proposition is...institutions should never ever question cultural producers and workers decisions around honouring artist fees. 

Our proposition stop using band-aid solutions as a way of responding to the harm that systemic issues create for cultural workers’ experiences at the hands of the institutional hierarchies.
Our proposition is to support and encourage the creation of new work.
Our proposition is that all cultural institutions must be gender inclusive (for example, including infrastructure like gender inclusive washrooms).
Our proposition is to reduce the number of shows in a yearly cycle where budgets are constrained, in order to redirect funds to salaried positions within the institution.
We think it is important to acknowledge how we perform care based on where we are situated in power structures. Even here at this table, in this place, in this moment. We are situated in structures and we are situated in spaces. Our positions mean we have different and continuous responsibilities of care. Acknowledging this may allow us to be more generous with our limitations / our not-knowing / our failures / our fuck-ups. That said we need to recognise when we fail, we need to be responsible to that failure rather than disavow or turn a corner and leave it there. This might allow us to care better in the future.

Questions / Things to keep in mind for discussion, included:
Who is going to perform these proposals? 
For who are they being performed? 
Who are the agents involved and what are their roles within curatorial care?
How to counter-balance the demand and expectation that some and not others be a service-provider for institutional change? Why is it always the same people being called upon to rally for change? Why is it always the same people providing the instructional manual for people who don’t give a fuck?
How can these conversations take place in different contexts?
 How can we possibly hold space for each other? Can we hold space through expanded learning? 
What form does this take?


Curating and Caring Socially reproductive Labour Cultural Labour Self Care and Collective Care Institutional Analysis

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1 May 2017Accepted
23 September 2017Completed

Event Location:

University of Toronto, Canada

Date range:

9-23 September 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Jan 2018 12:35

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:43


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