On Care and Citizenship

Performing Healing (in) the Museum


  • Elke Krasny Institute for Education in the Arts, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna


Black Lives Matter, Care, Citizenship, Feminist Ethics, Museum


As a result of the most pressing concerns of our global present, care, essential to life and survival, is at the center of political struggles and ethical concerns in the 21st-century. With access to health care infrastructures highly unevenly distributed, and caring labor vastly exploited, care injustice is on the rise. The Waiting Room by artist Simone Leigh addresses these concerns. Dedicated to commemorating care worker Esmin Elizabeth Green, who, after 24 hours of waiting, died in the waiting room of a Brooklyn hospital in 2008, this project transformed the New Museum into a center for care, and political mobilization. Foregrounding the experience of Black female subjectivities, alternative healing, and radical resistance, Leigh’s art-as-social practice gave rise to Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter, who used the museum for self-care and political organizing. This essay follows the nexus of care and citizenship through the political dimensions of infrastructural access to health care and culture. Remembering that the modern museum, implicated in the politics and economies of colonial capitalism, created rituals of citizenship based on an exclusionary gendered and racialized notion of the citizen, this essay asks if The Waiting Room enacts a ritual of care as ritual of citizenship.


Elke Krasny, Institute for Education in the Arts, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Elke Krasny, PhD, Professor for Art and Education at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Interested in epistemic, social and ecological justice in art, art education, architecture, and urbanism, her current research and curatorial work focuses on care-ethical feminist perspectives on the crises of the global present with the aim to contribute to transformative and emancipatory practices. Together with Angelika Fitz she co-edited the volume Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet (MIT Press 2019).


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