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Art & Care

Artwork by Dr Elena Cologni: White fabric labels on a purple background, reading 'Relations of trust' and 'Care instructions: care work must be paid, care is relational, care is lived experience, care is responsibility.'

The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a crisis of care, and therefore an urgent need for innovative approaches to care. The Art & Care project is a response that aims to collect, share, and learn from interdisciplinary projects from two perspectives: creative research and care ethics.

Art & Care was founded by Dr Elena Cologni, Senior Research Fellow at ARU, and Dr Merel Visse, Director and Associate Professor at Drew University (US) and Associate Professor at the University for Humanistic Studies, Care Ethics, The Netherlands.

Image credit: 'Care is Relational' and 'Care Instructions', © Elena Cologni, 2018 (limited edition digitally printed fabric).

In 2020, over the course of a few weeks, our world changed beyond recognition. Suddenly, we were forced to make small and large-scale decisions that impacted our private and public lives.

This global crisis is not only a health and economic one: it is also a crisis of care. A crisis in how we allocate and take responsibility for others, ourselves, and all living and non-living entities in the world.

As a result of the crisis and its associated uncertainties, there is an urgent need for innovative approaches to care. In the context of this project, care is both a relational and political endeavour.

Care is relational in that it speaks to our most fundamental way of being in the world: we exist by being with others in social groups, which the crisis has shown to be precarious. We also exist because we are precarious beings ourselves: our bodies are vulnerable and frail. We exist in togetherness because of our common vulnerability and precarity.

Care is political in that it addresses asymmetries in power and often-unequal divisions of responsibility. Who should care for whom and how is laden with challenge and conflict. We need to negotiate care responsibilities in the context of our homes, families, and organisations, as well as in governmental realms.

To find new pathways, this project aims to collect, share, and learn from interdisciplinary projects from two perspectives: creative research and care ethics.

These will be discussed in terms of impact in society through social responsibility, creativity, and innovation coming from practices of care for the environment, society, heritage, and art.

We're creating a platform to explore, experiment, and merge together fields that have traditionally been considered discrete from one another. We will achieve this by using an innovative, post-disciplinary approach to generate insights into how contemporary artists and arts-based scholars contribute to understanding and fostering good care.

In doing so, we will offer multiple, related, contradictory ideas, presenting examples of projects that spread out and spill over the edges of definitions of research, theory, and art. Ideas will influence each other as they overlap, troubling boundaries, disciplinary and otherwise.

The exchanges in the networks facilitated by this project aim to establish a new post-disciplinary context for care ethics, theory, and creative research.

We hold regular online events for research staff and students from ARU and external institutions. You can find out about upcoming events on the Art & Care Facebook page.

Past speakers include: