Habits of Care Lisa Busby
Claire Fontaine
Deborah Ligorio
Paul Maheke
Raju Rage
Amie Siegel
Laura Yuile

Curated by Helena Reckitt

September 11–30, 2017


Presented as part of Circuit 1: Labour of Curation, Take Care

Download the Circuit 1 micropublication featuring a curatorial essay by Helena Reckitt, artist biographies, and full colour illustrations throughout.

Paul Maheke, Seeking After the Fully Grown Dancer *deep within* (performance still), 2016. Courtesy the artist, galerie Sultana and Life Long Burning.
Exhibition Statement

In a contemporary context in which many individuals and groups feel under-valued and uncared for, Habits of Care addresses the links between the care of the self and collective care, asking where they overlap, and where they diverge and conflict. Recalling the etymological roots of the word ‘curating’ in the Latin word for ‘caring,’ the exhibition is prompted by concerns with how the rhetoric of care plays out in the fields of art, culture and beyond. It points to where care is typically invested, and where it falls short, raising questions about how we might develop new habits of care that encompass both human and non-human others.


To read the full curatorial essay by Helena Reckitt, download the Circuit 1 micropublication.

Public Programs

Wages for Housework: The Canadian Context
An EMILIA-AMALIA Feminist Working Group Workshop
With Helena Reckitt and Christina Rousseau
Tuesday, September 5, 6–9pm
Art Metropole, 1490 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Curating and Caring
Three-part workshop led by Helena Reckitt
Saturday, September 9, Wednesday, September 20, and Saturday, September 23
University of Toronto St. George and University of Toronto Mississauga

Opening Reception
With performances by Paul Maheke and Laura Yuile
Wednesday, September 13, 5–8pm
Blackwood Gallery
A FREE shuttle bus will depart from Mercer Union (1286 Bloor Street West) at 5:30pm, returning for 8:30pm.

Protocols, Policies, and Proposals Performed
Scores composed by Lisa Busby and performed by The Element Choir
Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23
Various locations at University of Toronto Mississauga

Care Crisis, Care Connective: An Open Forum on Cultural Work
Helena Reckitt and Curating and Caring workshop participants, Raju Rage, Precarious Workers Brigade, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn and Boo Watson

Hosted by Letters & Handshakes
Saturday, September 23, 10am–6pm
Blackwood Gallery

Reader-in-Residence Session with Art Metropole
Public reading by Joshua Vettivelu
Wednesday, September 27, 12–1pm
Blackwood Gallery

Habits of Care installation photos

For installation photos of Habits of Care, visit Circuit 1: Labour of Curation.


Amber Berson is a writer, curator, and PhD student conducting doctoral research at Queen’s University on artist-run culture and feminist, utopian thinking. She most recently curated World Cup!; The Let Down Reflex (with Juliana Driever); TrailMix (with Eliane Ellbogen); *~._.:*JENNIFER X JENNIFER*:.~ (with Eliane Ellbogen); The Annual Art Administrator’s Relay Race (2013, with Nicole Burisch); and was the 2016 curator-in-residence as part of the France-Quebec Cross-Residencies at Astérides in Marseille, France. She is the Canadian ambassador for the Art+Feminism Wikipedia project. Her writing has been published in Breach Magazine, Canadian Art, C Magazine, Revue .dpi, Esse, FUSE Magazine, and the St Andrews Journal of Art History and Museum Studies

Lisa Busby is a London-based composer, vocalist, and DJ. She performs and composes with bands The Nomadic Female DJ Troupe, Rutger Hauser, and Sleeps in Oysters, as well as working independently as a solo artist. She has released with record labels Seed and The Lumen Lake. She is particularly interested in using domestic or outdated playback media as instruments, but also works in long duration forms, performance video, text-based score, installation, and site-specific performance. Lisa has performed and exhibited in various solo and group situations internationally. She is also Senior Lecturer in Music at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Claire Fontaine is a collective artist based in Paris. After lifting her name from a popular brand of school notebooks, Claire Fontaine declared herself a “readymade artist” and began to elaborate a version of neo-conceptual art that often looks like other people's work. Her practice can be described as an ongoing interrogation of the political impotence and the crisis of singularity that seems to define contemporary society. Her works have been shown internationally in major institutions across Europe, North America, and Asia, and she has published with Mute, one star press, Dilecta, e-flux journal, Derive Approdi, and il Mulino.

Nicole Cohen is Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Writers’ Rights: Freelance Journalism in a Digital Age (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), which examines the labour politics of freelancing, and is a member of the collaborative research project Cultural Workers Organize, which engages with media and cultural workers’ collective responses to precarity. Nicole is on the Advisory Board of the Canadian Intern Association. 

Kay Dickinson is Associate Professor and Undergraduate Programme Director of Film Studies at Concordia University. Her recent published work, Arab Cinema Travels: Transnational Syria, Palestine, Dubai and Beyond thinks through how cinema functions amid and in resistance to the machinations of transnational global capital. Her current project focuses on offshored film production within free zones that is facilitated through the principles of logistics. Prior to her move to Concordia, Kay taught at King’s College and Goldsmiths, both within the University of London. While there, she became a collective member of Precarious Workers Brigade.

The Element Choir is an improvising choir based in Toronto, Canada, created by Christine Duncan and Jean Martin and directed by Christine Duncan. The Element Choir works with both structured and non-structured elements, based primarily on a system of conduction cues. As an ensemble they explore textural and timbral sound qualities, soundscapes, rhythmic patterns, sound poetry, musical genre interplay, and extended voice techniques. This cinematic approach to group vocalizing presents both tonal and non-tonal material in a constantly evolving and “in the moment” sonic environment.

EMILIA–AMALIA is an exploratory working group that employs practices of citation, annotation, and autobiography as modes of activating feminist art, writing and research practices. Through readings, screenings, discussions, and writing activities, the group will investigate historical and intergenerational feminisms, as well as relationships of mentorship, collaboration, and indebtedness between artists, writers, thinkers, curators, and practitioners. In tracing these lines, the group aims to elucidate the histories of feminism that have been obscured and overlooked in the narratives of 1970s, or “second-wave” feminism that we have inherited. EMILIA–AMALIA is initiated by Cecilia Berkovic, Yaniya Lee, Annie MacDonell, Gabrielle Moser, Zinnia Naqvi, Leila Timmins, and cheyanne turions.

Janna Graham is a practice-based researcher who has worked in the curatorial field for nearly twenty years, occupying positions at institutions such as Whitechapel and Serpentine Galleries, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Nottingham Contemporary, and developing projects for Van Abbemuseum and the New Museum. A key figure in what has been termed “the educational turn” in curating, she has developed exhibitions, residencies, research, and writing at the intersection of art and contemporary social urgencies including migration, gentrification, education, anti-racism, elder care, and indigeneity. Recent publications include Art + Care: A Future and Studies on a Road. Janna is a founding member of Another Roadmap for Arts Education Network and School, the Micropolitics Research Group, and Precarious Workers Brigade. She is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn is a research-based artist based in Stockholm. Using a broad range of mediums, her artistic practice investigates issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics, and multiculturalism within the framework of feminist theories. Nguyễn’s work has been shown internationally in institutions including the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver); EFA Project Space (New York); MTL BNL at the Musée d’Art Contemporain (Montreal); Kunstverein Braunschweig; Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia); Mason Gross Galleries (New Jersey); and Gasworks (London). Nguyễn is this year’s Audain Visual Artist in Residence at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and will participate in the fourth cycle of NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore's Residencies program.

Letters & Handshakes is a collaboration of Greig de Peuter (Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University) and Christine Shaw (Blackwood Gallery and Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga). Letters & Handshakes’ past projects include the exhibitions I stood before the source and Precarious: Carole Condé + Karl Beveridge, the forum Fighting Foreclosed Futures: Politics of Student Debt, and the symposium and micropublication Surplus3: Labour and the Digital.

Deborah Ligorio is an Italian artist based in Berlin. Her research brings together technological, ecological, and feminist thinking. She was awarded the 15th Quadriennale di Roma Young Art Prize (2008), and the Special Prize GAI - Italre Italian Studies for PS1 MoMA (2004). Her works have been shown and performed in events, group and solo exhibitions at institutions including: Savvy Contemporary and Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin), ICA (London), Hangar Bicocca (Milan), Manifesta7, and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin). In 2013, she published Survival Kits with Sternberg Press. She is the founder of the online platforms [The Eponym] and DadaAda.

Paul Maheke lives and works in London. He completed a MA in Art Practice at l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy (2011) and a program of study at Open School East (2015), producing research and public conversations entitled Beyond Beyoncé: Use It Like a Bumper! Maheke was awarded the South London Gallery Graduate Residency 2015–16 where he presented the exhibition I Lost Track of the Swarm. Maheke’s research imagines the body as an archive, using its waters as pathways to information and knowledge. With particular attention to dance, his research rearticulates representations of queer Blackness that emerge from Western imaginations by addressing history through non-human subjectivity. Recent performance and exhibition venues include 57th Venice Biennale, Tate Modern (London), Sultana Gallery (Paris), and Darling Foundry (Montreal).

Precarious Workers Brigade is a UK-based group of precarious workers in culture and education. We call out in solidarity with all those struggling to make a living in this climate of instability and enforced austerity. Our praxis springs from a shared commitment to developing research and actions that are practical, relevant and easily shared and applied. If putting an end to precarity is the social justice we seek, our political project involves developing tactics, strategies, formats, practices, dispositions, knowledges, and tools for making this happen.

Raju Rage is an interdisciplinary artist who uses art, education, and activism to forge creative survival. Based in London and working beyond, they primarily use their non-conforming body to bridge the gap between dis/connected bodies, theory and practice, text and the body, and aesthetics and the political substance. They work in performance, sculpture, soundscapes, and moving image, utilising everyday objects and life experiences to build new narratives of gender, race, and culture. They are an organizer with Collective Creativity arts collective. Recent performance and exhibition venues include ICA and Showroom (London), Nottingham Contemporary, and nGbK and xart splitta (Berlin).

Helena Reckitt is a curator and critic with a longstanding engagement with histories, and contemporary legacies, of feminist and queer artistic, critical, and political practices. She is editor of the books Art and Feminism, Sanja Ivekovic: Unknown Heroine, and, with Josh Oppenheimer, Acting on AIDS. In 2016, she edited two issues of the Journal of Curatorial Studies with Jennifer Fisher and, in 2015, she worked with six feminist curators and artists to develop Now You Can Go, which explored the transmission and resonance of Italian feminist practices across four London arts venues. Currently Senior Lecturer in Curating at Goldsmiths, University of London, she has previously held positions at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto), Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and the ICA (London).

Christina Rousseau recently completed her PhD. in Humanities at York University. She is currently a sessional instructor in both Canadian Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies at Trent University, and is also an independent researcher and writer. Her main teaching, research, and writing interests focus on issues related to social reproduction; gender, the body, and sexuality; gender and work; and social movement organizing.

Amie Siegel is an American artist known for making layered, meticulously constructed works that consider the undercurrents of value systems, cultural ownership, and image-making. Her work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions and collected by museums throughout the United States and Europe, and she has had recent solo exhibitions at the South London Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the MAK, Vienna. She has been a fellow of the DAAD Berliner-Künstlerprogramm and the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fulton Fellow at the Film Study Center at Harvard University, and a recipient of the ICA Boston's Foster Prize, as well as Sundance Institute and Creative Capital Awards.

Joshua Vettivelu is an artist working within sculpture, video, performance, and installation. Their work seeks to explore how larger frameworks of power manifest within intimate relationships. Recently, their practice has been examining the tensions that emerge when personal experiences are mined for art production, and how this allows institutions to posture and position themselves as self-reflexive. Vettivelu currently teaches in the Faculty of Continuing Education at OCAD University and is the Director of Programming for Whippersnapper Gallery.

Born in Toronto, Boo Watson began playing and composing music at the age of five, and played in bands for over three decades. In the 1970s she joined the Wages for Housework Campaign and co-founded Wages Due Lesbians. She wrote songs for the movement, many of which were published in Wages for Housework International's Conference Song Book (1975). Watson is a life-long activist working on environmental, feminist, and social justice issues. From 2000–01, Watson organized the only Green Gay Pride in Toronto, powered exclusively by renewable energy. She is now the owner of a hundred-acre art farm, producing organic food, music, theatre, and other arts in Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

Laura Yuile is an artist based in London. Her work has been shown in recent exhibitions at Arebyte LASER (London), T-Space (Milan), Republic (London), Generator (Dundee), The Wiener Art Foundation at Parallel Vienna, and the Savoy Centre for Glasgow International. In 2015 she was an Associate Artist at Open School East and graduated in 2017 from the MFA program at Goldsmiths, London. Between 2012–13 she led a series of symposia on Comfort Zones in various IKEA showrooms. Forthcoming projects include a residency in Beijing as a recipient of the Red Mansion Award, and a group exhibition at Mauve, Vienna.


The Blackwood Gallery gratefully acknowledges the operating support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.



The Blackwood Gallery is grateful for additional support for Circuit 1: Labour of Curation from the Department of Visual Studies (UTM); Outreach, Conference and Colloquia Fund (Office of the VP Research, UTM); SSHRC-funded research project Cultural Workers Organize; University of Toronto Affinity Partners Manulife, TD Insurance, and MBNA.

Funding for additional staff support was made possible through the Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Museums Association administers the program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage.



Curator Acknowledgments
I am grateful for the invaluable discussions that I have had with artists in the exhibition and thank them for entrusting their work to this project. The feminist artistic methodology of Alex Martinis Roe has been a key resource for the Curating and Caring workshop. The workshop also draws on Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ 1969 Manifesto for Maintenance Art and Annette Krauss and the Casco Team’s 2014 Site for Unlearning: Art Organization. Jennifer Fisher provided important editorial input for my 2016 essay, “Support Acts: Curating, Caring and Social Reproduction,” which fed into research for the exhibition. Others whose friendship and work have been important sources of inspiration and sustenance include Fulvia Carnevale of Claire Fontaine, Danielle Child, Angela Dimitrakaki, Emma Dowling, Gabby Moser, Susan Kelly, Katy Orkisz, Lara Perry, Jenny Richards, Adrian Searle, and participants in the Feminist Duration Reading Group in London. The support and guidance of Christine Shaw and The Blackwood Gallery team have been exemplary demonstrations of curatorial care.