Acts of Support: Contradictions of Curating and Care

Reckitt, Helena. 2018. 'Acts of Support: Contradictions of Curating and Care'. In: Metabolic Rifts. Campo Alegre Theatre Café-Teatro, Porto, Portugal 28 April 2018. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The crisis of care and sustainability has become a key preoccupation in the art world. Artists and curators attempt to make visible the unseen and under-valued labour and relationships on which their activities rely. Activists agitate for policies to improve labour conditions in the art world’s notoriously unregulated sector. To compensate for the lack of care they routinely experience, cultural workers establish structures of support and mutual aid.

In this lecture Helena Reckitt reviews some of these artistic, institutional, curatorial and activist developments. Drawing on debates around the feminization of labour and the rhetoric of labours of love, she highlights the conditions that exacerbate the crisis of care: from the withdrawal of state funds for cultural projects, to the precarity of life under late capitalism where emotional labour is treated as an infinitely exploitable resource. Pointing to the need for curatorial and institutional initiatives to address the political conditions under which they operate, Reckitt asks how care in the art field can be reconsidered, revalued, and more fairly distributed.

[the article’s title references Nancy Fraser’s 2016 essay ‘Contradictions of Capitalism and Care’]

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)

Additional Information:

The lecture was given as part of the third and final assembly of METABOLIC RIFTS, a research programme which unpacks protocols of representation and strategies of support within techno-cultural infrastructures, and articulates with the presentation of the performance minor matter (2016) by Ligia Lewis in DDD - Dias da Dança Festival 2018.

Against the backdrop of exhorted nationalisms, increasing autonomy of corporate governance and big data over state control, and the intensification of anxiety underpinning labour deregulation, the event proposed to engage with the operating principles that organise energy, matter and information in networked capitalism, foregrounding nuanced forms of attention, of institutional critique, and an ethics of sociability.

Other papers were: Susana Caló, Can an Institution be militant? and Matteo Pasquinelli, The Machines of the Anthropocene: On the Transformation of Labour into Energy and Information. An artist conversation with Ligia Lewis was moderated by Alexandra Balona and Sofia Lemos.

The programme was organised by PROSPECTIONS for Art, Education and Knowledge Production, a roving assembly for visual and performing arts research mobilized by Alexandra Balona and Sofia Lemos.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



28 April 2018Completed
1 February 2018Accepted

Event Location:

Campo Alegre Theatre Café-Teatro, Porto, Portugal

Date range:

28 April 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Sep 2018 13:50

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2018 13:50


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