Upkeep explores a notion of care that exists not in the catastrophic or exceptional signalled by the current pandemic, but rather in the ordinary that has moved into the foreground as we occupy our domestic spaces in unprecedented ways. As in the actions of those who maintain the living conditions of their care circle as habit, exhibited artists attend to the minor activities of upkeep—slight gestures, open questions, repetitive acts, distant memories, intimate approaches, and subtle refusals.
Following the thinking of writer Maggie Nelson, the exhibition approaches care as a complicated nexus of generosity and coercion. Historically linked to the feminine, caregiving—the conventional domain of mothers, nurses, nannies, sitters, teachers, aids, and daughters—has garnered scant social capital. The gendering of this paradigm supposes a feminized actor whose function it is to provide for others. Through it’s selections of artists and artworks, Upkeep attempts to acknowledge the elasticity of gender designations, as well as to recognize that identity does not necessarily align with function.
Upkeep overlaps in both time and topic with The Renaissance Society’s exhibition Nine Lives. Both group shows partake in the Feminist Art Coalition, a national initiative to generate cultural awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action. On Saturday, October 24 at 10am, The Arts Club and The Ren will bring together an artist from each exhibition for a virtual conversation about areas of convergence or departure: South African Bronwyn Katz and Paris-based Canadian Kapwani Kiwanga. Click here to register.
Image: Lily van der Stokker, Pulling out Hairs from the Drain, 2015. Acrylic on wood panel. 42.52h x 49.61w in. Courtesy of the artist and kaufmann repetto, Milan / New York