COME TO THE TABLE: CARE

On Sunday, 16 February at 5 PM the following people met over supper at the Chazen Museum to discuss the theme of CARE:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP with HICKORY SMOKED PUMPKIN SEEDS
SOURDOUGH SEMOLINA BREAD

ROASTED RED PEPPERS
GREEN SALAD
RED, GREEN, & BLACK CASTELNUOVO OLIVES

TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA
CHICKEN ASPIC

CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE
GAIL AMBROSIUS 81% BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE

DRIED PINEAPPLE, MANGO, & GINGER

HOOK’S 10 YEAR CHEDDAR (COW, USA)
PECORINO TOSCANO (SHEEP, ITALY)
LA DAMA SAGRADA (GOAT, SPAIN)

Discussion

It was a rich and moving discussion, really enhanced by the wide-ranging backgrounds of the participants (artists, doctors, scholars, curators, activists). The following questions they contributed in advance give a sense of the breadth of the inquiry:

  • How can people who have dedicated their careers and/or time to being caregivers best receive the care they need?
  • How has the shift from a traditional rooting of in women’s labor (child and parental caregiving) and in medicine (health care) to a broadened conversation that includes civil rights, education, environmentalism, arts, health, social services, identity change the gendering of care and the cultural value of care? What is the benefit of this broadening? Does it fuel a broadening of gender identification with care? Which would in turn, of course, increase the cultural value of care?
  • How can those of us who are not Black and/or Indigenous, especially white settlers, interface with, honor, and learn from the unique care and kinship practices that Black and Indigenous feminists (e.g. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Kim TallBear) describe in their communities without replicating dynamics of dispossession, appropriation, and violence?
  • In your experience(s), what is the relationship between care and generosity? Where do they support one another and where do they fail one another?
  • What are some non-medical approaches to caring for suffering and dying (in particular addressing loneliness and memory)?
  • What makes the concept of care an urgent one to think through—if, indeed, it is—for the current political moment? What is the relationship between the study of care and the work of building movements?
  • What does care mean in a museum context – what is our responsibility for caring for artworks and objects of cultural significance?
  • What networks are replacing the conventional networks of care? What are the boundaries of our care networks?
  • It is possible to teach someone how to give care. But is it possible to teach someone to care?  How do we learn to care?
  • How do the artworks that have been selected for this theme (as well as the photographs by W. Eugene Smith paired with Darcy Padilla’s project) help us to think about “care”?
  • In what ways do Hannah Schelb’s custom-made ceramics embody the theme and/or enhance the conversation?

It’s impossible to summarize the conversation, but during the meal, we we encouraged participants to make notes and track key words on the table. Here is that list. Upper case and bold are used to indicate multiple appearances of the same word.

Agency. Attention. Be present. Beyond words. CARE. Care as labor. Care vs Cure. Carelessness. Concentric circles of care. Curiosity. Don’t miss the suffering. Eavesdropping with permission. Ends. Experience. Feeling care. Fix. Holding silence. Holding space. Holding story. IATROGENIC. Idiopathic. Keeping an eye on suffering. Kim Tallbear. Labor. Listening. Nesting. Nourishing. Presence. Rareness of art. RECIPROCITY. Recognition. Sharing. Suffering. Tanja Dreher. Temporality. Testimony. Time. Time. Two hands. Unwelcome care. Wanting to be present. Wanting to fix. Witnessing. WONDER. Wonder(ing).

Artworks

In addition to the works on display throughout the exhibition, the following art works were selected by the Chazen staff specifically for the theme of CARE. (Click the image to view the entry in the museum’s online catalog).

colorful block print of woman holding infant
Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Yoshitori (Japanese, 1798-1861)
Wanting to Suckle: Sea Cucumbers from Mikawa, from the series Affectionate Feelings for Mountains and Seas 1852
Diana Mantuana (after Giulio Romano) (Italian, ca. 1535-1587) (Italian, ca. 1499-1546)
Latona Giving Birth to Apollo and Diana on the Island of Delos ca. 1580
drawing of adult kneeling beside child in bed
Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863 – 1944)
The Sick Child I (Det syke barn I) 1894
portrait of African-American man and child
Joseph Hirsch (American, 1910 – 1981)
Father and Son 1945

Because the curators new that photographer Darcy Padilla would be one of the conversants, they hung her contribution to the show, quite thematically relevant, in the adjacent gallery…

They are from the her series S.R.O. (Single Room Occupancy) done between
1992 and 1997.

Padilla’s work was paired with these photographs by Eugene Smith:

  1. Maude with Woman in Cast
  2. Doctor, Patient and Maude
  3. Maude Feeding Banana to Patient
  4. Maude Using Stethoscope

In the catalogue for the exhibition, it says about the pairing:

Padilla’s collection pairing explores the relationship between her work photographing AIDS patients living at the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco in the early ‘90s and the work of W. Eugene Smith, specifically his series Maude and Country Doctor both originally published in LIFE magazine. As Padilla explains, “My bodies of work identify deeply with the tradition, extend, and offer new perspectives on ‘Concerned Photography’ for which W. Eugene Smith is renowned. The lives and the landscapes we navigated were different, but similar in our focus on social issues and humanistic style of photography.”

Readings:

In the weeks following the dinner conversation, these recommendations for readings were exchanged between the participants:

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