(Un)Learning Habits of Care Led by curator Helena Reckitt and artist Grace Ndiritu

This special two–day workshop was led by curator Helena Reckitt and artist Grace Ndiritu. (Un)Learning Habits of Care considered the contexts of curatorial and artistic practice, the museum, and alternative communities to explore practices of care and productive refusal.

Navigating these ideas through writing, reading, and role play, participants generated proposals and frameworks that promote care, mutual aid, and collective political practices while rejecting extractivist attitudes that treat care and nature as free and inexhaustible resources.

Embodied reading sessions included the work of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa on humans’ caring capacity, and ethical and political obligation for thinking about care in more than human worlds; as well as Donna Haraway’s writings on intimacy, kinship, and reproductive justice.

This workshop was designed for those who are interested or active in artistic practice, cultural work, personal and collective care policies, attentive practices and ecologies.

Grace Ndiritu lead a reading group, Art, Care and Social Justice (1hr 30mins), discussing texts on art and social justice interspersed with short meditation breaks led by the artist.

(Un)Learning Habits of Care builds on the workshop Taking (back) Caredeveloped by Helena Reckitt and Christine Shaw at Cité internationale des arts, Paris, in May 2019.

The Reading Group led by Grace Ndiritu is part of The Year of Black Healing (2020), a year long international programme of exhibitions, performances and talks focusing on her work leading up to the Black Healing exhibition in June 2020 in France curated by Sorana Munsya. It touches on topics, such as afro-futurism, activism, spiritual practice, black culture and neo–liberalism.

About the contributors

Helena Reckitt has held curatorial and programming roles at The Power Plant, Toronto, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Georgia, and the ICA, London, and has been a commissioning editor in film and performance studies at Routledge. She has edited the books Art and Feminism (Phaidon, 2001), Sanja Iveković: Unknown Heroine (Calvert 22, 2013) and, with Joshua Oppenheimer, Acting on AIDS (Serpent’s Tail, 1997), and is Consultant Editor for The Art of Feminism: The Images that shaped the fight for equality (Tate Publishing and Chronicle Books, 2018). Reckitt has curated solo shows with artists including Yael Bartana, Manon de Boer, Keren Cytter, Hew Locke and Ryan Trecartin, and group exhibitions such as ‘What Business Are You In?’ (2006), ‘Not Quite How I Remember It’ (2008), and ‘Getting Rid of Ourselves’ (2014). In December 2015 she co-organized a programme of feminist events across the ICA, The Showroom, Raven Row and SPACE called ‘Now You Can Go,’ inspired by Italian feminisms of the 1970s and 1980s, exploring consciousness raising, affective withdrawal, and feminist generation.

Grace Ndiritu is a British-Kenyan artist who, in her work, refers to issues of reactivating ‘the dying art space’ as a space for sharing, participation and ethics i.e. Healing The Museum – as well as to problems connected with the transformation of the contemporary world including, in particular, the impact of globalisation and aggressive geopolitics.  In 2018 Ndiritu launched COVERSLUT© a new ‘Pay What You Can’ fashion label focused on democracy & class struggle, that involves working with refugees and migrants.

Ndiritu took the radical decision in 2012 only to spend time in the city when necessary, and to otherwise live in rural, alternative and often spiritual communities while expanding her research into nomadic lifestyles and training in esoteric studies such as shamanism, which she began over 16 years ago. Her research so far has taken her to both Thai and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, permaculture communities in New Zealand, forest tree dwellers in Argentina, neo-tribal festivals such as the Burning Man in Nevada, a Hare Krishna ashram and the Findhorn New Age community in Scotland. Her research into community life has so far resulted in the founding of The Ark: Center For Interdisciplinary Experimentation.

Recent solo projects include S.M.A.K. & M.S.K., Belgium (2019), Africa Museum Tervuren, Belgium (2019), Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (2017), Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Paris (2016), Glasgow School of Art (2015), Museum Modern of Art, Warsaw (2014), Musee Chasse & Nature and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013), ICA Artist Film Survey, London (2011), Artprojx at Prince Charles Cinema London (2009).

Image credit: Helena Reckitt at Freelands Artist Programme Symposium, Courtesy Helena Reckitt.
Grace Ndiritu, Courtesy of the artist.

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