Objects of care

Care is a tangible thing.

Care is everything that is done, rather than everything that we do, to maintain, continue and repair the world; so we can all live in it as well as possible [3]. Collapsing the distinction between human and non-human, practice and experience, self and nature, care is the core of our world. Both material and immaterial.

The collected artists’ work examines the theme of how care relates to the tangible, exploring the physical as a means to demonstrate the conceptual. In this group show, even the purely visual evokes a sense of contact. The artworks are in search of how the haptic, sensory, embodied knowledge of caring and being cared for, is demonstrated within our lives through experiences of touch; being “touched by” or “getting in touch” with something human or inhuman.

Tactility often speaks to safety or intimacy, forcing us to confront our mortality, our need for the interpersonal, and, in the words of Judith Butler, the fact that we are undone by each other (4).
Is this limited to touching one another? Or can it be extended to the world around us. How does touching the world with care in mind make us come undone? Is the “undoing” the first step of repair? A step that, especially today, we so desperately need.

As the world becomes undone

I become undone with it
I mend

I bring the world together

Care, is a tangible thing

As I look closer at the tokens of care, symbols or talismans of the artists, I think of this space as an altar.
These works, intentionally or not, are offerings.
Whilst we as humans are certainly related to and dependent upon each other, the fabric of our co-existence is also densely interwoven with things (6).
Things are fundamental ingredients of our existence. They have the power to translate thought into form and to anchor us in a time of need. Care is not only vital for coexistence with each other, but also with the non-human world. Whilst not always obvious in the ways it is given, but always at stake, care is a delicate thing to explore. Despite its fragility, it is the core of living.

As I become undone
the world becomes undone with me

I mend
I bring the world together

With my two hands

to your two hands

to all

Care, is a living thing

Participating Artists 
at Backhaus Projects
09- 12.11.23, Berlin 

Elen Alien, Ellen Warner, Lena Becerra, Elena Aya Bundurakis, Catherine Chatzidimitriou, Laura Sofia Oyuela Flores, Olivia Du Vergier, Dina Al-Makhrami, Michael Gurhy, Azzah Salwaa, Joy Baek, Yi Ten Lai Fernandez, Miriam Poletti, Ortansia Rhastoni.

Care is personal and collective; it is passed from one, to another, to a community. Through dialogue with the works, one thing is obvious: our need for it – both giving and receiving - is universal, but the ways in which we envision care in our lives might differ. It is entangled with our personal history, as much as it is with our cultural one. Enmeshed with memory, experience and materialisation; our search becomes ceremonial.

In difficult times, care is a manner of healing.
It shapeshifts, taking different forms depending on our needs. From the feeling of familiarity tied to one’s search for tradition and belonging; to the critical exploration of acts of self-care we exercise. From the ways in which we allow our body to experience grief, to our relationship with the cosmos. We are made by the material world, whilst also being the agents behind it (6)
The assumption that we have power over them, that it is only us who subscribes meaning to them, is a misconception. Thinking of care from a posthumanist approach, all types of bodies are capable of affect, not just organic things, but inorganic, general objects,because they move, combine and recompose as they encounter other bodies(2). Things have power over us in every part of our lives, including our care practices. They move us and move in us.

With questions of “care” being at the forefront of the art world, popular psychology and mainstream culture for the last few years, Objects of Care aims to critically explore what care is to one another. How do we visualise it, when we allow ourselves to experience it, where do we seek to find it? How does it move from the personal to the collective, how can it bring us together?

Τhe exhibition gathers work from thirteen artists, each of whom addresses the subject from either different, related, and in some cases, contradictory perspectives. Its programme explores the politics of care through cultural identity, memory, technology, ecology and ritualism, with further interrogation of how kindness relates to the material.

In this show care moves away from the space of the mind and becomes a living thing.

Take Care,

October 2023

Barad, Karen 2012. ‘On Touching—The Inhuman That Therefore I Am.’ Differences 23, no. 3: 206–23

Bennett, J, 2010, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, North Carolina: Duke

University Press.

De la Bellacasa, Maria Puig. ‘MoC’. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017

Dumm, Thomas. 2008. Loneliness as a Way of Life. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Haraway, Donna 2007. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Latour, Bruno. 2005 ‘What Is the Style of Matters of Concern? Two Lectures in Empirical Philosophy’ Spinoza Chair in Philosophy Lectures at the University of Amsterdam, April–May 2005.

Miller, D. 2010. Stuff, Cambridge: Polity Press.

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