Ellen Mara De Wachter, writer and author of Co-Art (Phaidon, 2016), invited curator Nora Heidorn and visual artist Jade Montserrat to consider and discuss self-care and mutual care within collaborative and creative practices.
Over the past few years, Audre Lorde’s maxim that self-care is ‘an act of political warfare’ has been invoked in a range of different contexts and for a surprising array of purposes. Some might say Lorde’s concept of ‘self-care’ has been co-opted by the wellness industry, while others argue that the demands of contemporary life and the cultural industries leave us with no choice but to retreat and look after ourselves. What effect is this having on social and collaborative processes and outputs?
This discussion was programmed alongside Jerwood Collaborate!. It drew on recent exhibitions by curator Nora Heidorn (‘Sick & Desiring’, Bergen Assembly, Bergen, 2019) and artist Jade Montserrat (‘Instituting Care’, Bluecoat, Liverpool, 2019) to explore a range of creative responses to social, economic and industry pressures, such as doing less, doing nothing, and balancing engagement with abstention and refusal.
Ellen Mara De Wachter
Ellen Mara De Wachter is a writer based in London. She is a contributor to Frieze, Art Quarterly, Art Monthly, World of Interiors and The White Review, and her columns, exhibition and book reviews, profiles, interviews and essays have featured in a range of other publications. Her video essays have featured on frieze.com, and in 2017 she presented a programme about her research into artistic collaboration on BBC Radio 4. De Wachter’s 2017 book ‘Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration’ (Phaidon) explores the phenomenon of collaboration in the visual arts and its potential in society at large. ellenmaradewachter.com
Jade Montserrat is a visual artist based in Scarborough. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2003 and Norwich University of the Arts in 2010, and is currently the Stuart Hall Foundation practice-based PhD candidate at The Institute for Black Atlantic Research, The University of Central Lancashire. jademontserrat.com
Nora Heidorn is an independent curator and lecturer based in London. Her ongoing curatorial research project Sick & Desiring is currently part of the Norwegian triennial Bergen Assembly, where it takes the form of an exhibition at Hordaland Kunstsenter and a series of events. The project asks, ‘how can we politicise sickness and organise around shared vulnerabilities to live the body as a space for resistance?’ Nora also works as a Curator and Project Coordinator at Goldsmiths and as an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins. noraheidorn.com