Care for Caregivers: 
Curating at the Intersection of (Self-) Care and Social Transformation

While the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the essential social and economic functions of care-work, it has simultaneously rendered its gendered, racialized conditions legible as forms of ‚structural violence’. Can curating serve as a counter-practice to the ongoing ‚crisis of care’ by providing a platform to connect local caregivers, thus making their work and needs more visible?

I will draw from the participatory project CARE, which I curated in 2019/20 at M.1 in rural Northern Germany. This site-specific, ‚radical relational’ (Krasny, 2015) project serves as a point of departure to examine the contradictory relationships between curating, (self-) care, and capitalism. The course will first outline social reproduction theory, then revisits the etymological root of curating and examines how curatorial labor, like carework, is a highly feminized, invisible, and precarious practice (Reckitt, 2016; Buurman/Richter, 2017). Building on the discourse of curating-as-care (Krasny, 2015; Reilly, 2017), the curatorial platform CARE is understood as an activist initiative that challenges the uneven conditions around gender and care within this rural community. Specifically, I focus on the artist-led workshop series Care for Caregivers, which – by applying relational, discursive, and participatory methods – provided the participants with artistic-playful strategies for their everyday lives in order to address pressing issues of isolation, trust, value, time, in/visibility, and collective self-care. The course will investigate how care does not only serve as a theme but also as a curatorial method of engagement to build ‚caring infrastructures,’ as a counter-practice against the ongoing care crisis. 

Together with the participants  –  through discussions, collective readings, group works, and individual assignments – we will examine, and de-tangle the various notions of care, and self-care, the implications for artistic and curatorial practice – and how we, as curators, can attempt to reconcile the conflicting interests to care a) for oneself, b) the artists, staff and audiences of our curatorial projects, c) for our private relationships/families, and d) do so while attending to the local needs and the demands of global discourses. 

Sascia Bailer works at the intersection of curating, public space, and social justice. She is the Artistic Director 2019/20 of M.1 by the Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung and is a PhD candidate in the practice-based curatorial program at the Zurich University of the Arts and the University of Reading. She has worked internationally within the arts, including MoMA PS1, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. She holds an MA from Parsons School of Design and a BA from Zeppelin University.