• I care by...

Blackshaw, Gemma, Baluch, Sohaila, Fraser, Marita, Heidorn, Nora and Hermon, Rosie, eds. 2022, Book, I care by... Research Communiqués . Royal College of Art, London, UK. ISBN 978-1-8383543-3-6

Abstract or Description:

The Care research group at the Royal College of Art (RCA) was conceived in the last week of June 2020, a month after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota, an act which catalysed global protests on systemic racism and police brutality. In the UK, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to show solidarity with demonstrators in the US. Coinciding with the easing of the lockdown restrictions imposed to manage the coronavirus, the marches shone a light on the government’s failure to protect Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people from the disproportionate risk posed by COVID- 19, and on the police’s increased use of stop and search in areas with large BAME populations.

The pandemic has shone the harshest of lights on the question of care in the age of neoliberalism: who gets it; who needs it; who does it; who controls it. The Care research group, comprising staff and postgraduate researchers within the School of Arts and Humanities at the RCA, works in this light. Over the course of a year, as the inequalities of the virus were becoming all too clear, the group regularly came together via Zoom to reflect on: the question of how to care for the human body in the technical-patriarchal societies the virus has re-inscribed; the ‘un-doing’ of what Judith Butler describes as the binary of vulnerability and resistance; the politically-transformative potential of prioritising care (rooted in empathy, solidarity, kinship) over capitalist gain; the activation of creative research practices (including but by no means limited to writing, looking, painting, drawing, filming, performing, collecting, assembling, curating, making public) as means of caring/transforming.

The group’s activities through the year of trying, failing, and trying again to care for its work and members are gathered in a co-authored Declaration of Care, published here, and expanded upon with attention to some of the methods group members developed in their research through practice.

The Declaration was recited in a participatory performance with invited artist Jade Montserrat on 10 March 2021. Over the course of a two-hour webinar, participants including members of the public were invited to draw alongside Montserrat with whatever materials they had to hand as they listened to texts on the vulnerabilities of bodies, the structuring of care within institutions, and the tactile, sensory, healing qualities of creative practice. This book includes a selection of the participants’ drawings, a Reader comprising the texts that were shared, and Montserrat’s drawings created through the performance. Ahead of the performance, Montserrat delivered an address to the Care research group which looked back on a lifetime of calling for a kind of care that was never provided. Excerpts from Montserrat’s address are included here too, alongside a text and image which reflect on the group’s affective reactions to the experience of listening to it, titled Episode.

The Declaration is a list of methods (approaches, processes, techniques), an enumeration of how Care research group members have worked, and would like to work: ‘I care by…’. This is a statement which has reverberated throughout the year, which bears repeating, which resounds still.

Gemma Blackshaw,
Care research group convenor, 2020–2022

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2023 14:42
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2023 14:42
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5316
Edit Item (login required) Edit Item (login required)