Sascia Bailer

Transforming the Arts with Feminist Care Ethics

1 December 2023, 6pm


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Expanding from her participatory curatorial practice on care (2019-20) at M.1 Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung, Sascia Bailer´s talk proposes curating – with its etymological origin in the Latin curare (to take care) – as a radically relational, infrastructural practice of care in search for a counter-hegemonic otherwise. In her talk, she presents the notion of “caring infrastructures” as a methodology to transform the arts according to feminist care ethics. As her talk will elaborate, caring infrastructures are defined as the result of a methodological sequence revolving around the building of support structures that respond to the caring needs and capacities of the artists, collaborators, audiences, and team members and that foster the conditions of their presence. Her transformative approach identifies several key building blocks of a curatorial process (i.e., communication, budgets, power) and illustrates how they can be altered according to feminist care ethics. These feminist care ethics (per Joan Tronto), rooted in vulnerability, interdependencies, and democratic principles, act as the moral compass that provides direction as to how the building blocks should be changed; they are precisely what turns infrastructures into caring infrastructures. The talk concludes by exploring the limitations of curatorial care due to group conflicts, solitary struggles, and systemic contradictions in capitalism, curating, and care. It suggests transferring Chantal Mouffe’s notion of “acting in concert” from activism to the arts, where various artistic and curatorial initiatives come together in a counter-hegemonic effort of “caring in concert.”

Sascia Bailer is a feminist researcher, writer and curator working at the intersection of care, gender, and socially engaged art. Her PhD at the Zurich University of the Arts & University of Reading investigated the ambivalent relationship between curating and care, and formulates propositions towards caring infrastructures within the arts. In 2019/2020 she initiated a participatory curatorial programming on care as the Artistic Director of M.1 Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung in rural Northern Germany. Together with Didem Yazici, she curated the exhibition “Mothers*, Warriors, and Poets: Care as Resistance” (2023) at StadtPalais Stuttgart. She is the author of “Care for Caregivers. Curating against the Care Crisis” (in: “Curating with Care”, Routledge, 2023) and “Curating, Care, and Corona” (Verlag der Arthur Boskamp Stiftung, 2020). She co-edited the anthology „Letters to Joan“ (2020, HKW) and the artist monographies „Re-Assembling Motherhood(s): On Radical Care and Collective Art as Feminist Practices“ by Maternal Fantasies (Onomatopee, 2021), and „What We Could Have Become: On Queer Feminist Filmmaking“ by Malu Blume (Onomatopee, 2021). She regularly writes for Monopol magazine on art, care, and gender justice. She has worked internationally within the arts, including MoMA PS1, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and Vera List Center for Art and Politics.