On Care and Citizenship
Performing Healing (in) the Museum
Nøgleord: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.
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