An accumulation of care: affect in the role of the contemporary curator
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This research portfolio investigates an affective approach to contemporary curatorial practice that is shaped by an accumulation of care. By retracing my working methods and noticing small shifts or interruptions, I reveal transformative, incremental changes in my work as a curator. I introduce curatorial practice where care is described as the physical and intellectual concern for objects in a museum, and consider traditional narratives ascribed to the role of a curator. I then propose an expanded understanding of care in curatorial practice that goes beyond stewardship to encompass engagement, empathy and allyship. Adopting a posthumanist methodological strategy which negotiates subjectivity and supports an untangling of remembered and recorded autobiographical details, I examine threads of care found in material evidence of exhibitions, commissions, and texts. These case studies call attention to aspects of affective labour in curatorial practice that weave across three main areas: exhibition-making as a collaborative experience; the curator as critical friend; and promoting social justice through intersectional perspectives in curatorial practice. This fresh exploratory model employs close scrutiny of subjective experience, through which I expose an embodied accumulation of actions that highlight the agency of affect. In the scope of the investigation from 2005 to 2020, threads of curatorial care emerge, interweave, overlap, and inform each other at various stages of my professional development and in different contexts. Case studies demonstrate exhibition-making at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, a non-profit arts centre in the UK, and the Art Galleries at TCU, a private liberal arts college in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Comprising previously published texts and photographic documentation of exhibitions, this research portfolio charts new terrain by suggesting a novel, creative framework for the critique of contemporary curatorial practices.