The theme of ‘care’ has been popping up around me for a few months now and it is a word that I find myself saying and talking about in various ways. It can be seen as a philosophical model that is a tool in understanding the self and others. It can be used to talk about the relations one has and the systems and methods, in which it manifests from. It can also be about politics and about the culture in which it is provided, denied or arranged. I have been thinking about ‘care’ in all these ways and it is something that I think can and is effecting art and artistic practices.
There seems to be a desire for connection. A desire for understanding another and to coping with this thing called existing. It feels as though we are living in a moment where there is an overwhelming sense of trauma and to ‘care’ for oneself and others is a means to cope. Or possibly it is a solution to the background of this condition we inhabit singly and collectively.
An incident happened recently where a friend needed to go to the hospital. Luckily, very luckily, this occurred in London and they were able to be taken care of by the NHS healthcare system. For free. For absolutely free. This involved ambulances, doctors, beds to sleep in, tests, MRIs, specialists etcetera. This amazing providing of care is something that does not have an equivalent in the USA. To injure or need medical care for short or long periods of time for an accident or for an ongoing condition is something that only people with certain jobs, healthcare, or wealth are given. Many times with a job or with some form of healthcare it still is not enough. You still have to pay and pay and be in debt for many situations. This reality is something that puts a rock in my gut and makes me reflect on the American way of life and it’s subsistence and demand on a capitalist system of healthcare with such disgust and a feeling of disgrace.
To not have the basic necessity of care of the body as a citizen, as a human, makes no sense at all. There is no logic to it. It also forces one to behave, function, and participate in systems that are essentially self-regulating forms of oppression and control.
Seeing how the NHS works (although it obviously has its flaws) but seeing how it actually works makes the rhetoric of not having free, universal healthcare seem so immoral and bizarre.
Moving on…Care of self. That’s a tough one. It’s such an easy idea but it is the hardest thing to actually do. Care of self is not indulgence, thrill or selfishness. It is kindness to oneself, acceptance, love, all those things that require honesty and patience. It is truly difficult and it has no right way and it is just between you and yourself so it’s private and challenging. To harm oneself with drugs, people, habits, behaviors, thoughts is the easiest and possibly most addictive thing to do as it extends and formulates your understanding of yourself, even if it is hurtful. Care of self is something that you wish for yourself and others and one can talk about and promote to others but at the end of the day it’s a solo thing and rightly so.
Care of others is probably the most rewarding form of care. Through this you can also work on the care of self. To open yourself to others is a means to others and oneself. To feel empathy, feelings, and love towards another is basically what makes this human species of ours have any glimmer of a chance or reason for existing. For some this is easier then for others because it is reciprocal. It’s like a tube between you and someone else. It affects both equally and requires openness in equal measure.
What’s the deal with me and all this care?
Perspective. The last week has brought to the fore many things personally, globally (Greece for example), culturally that has propelled ‘care’ into my brain space. Thinking about this all in relationship to art I have been noticing that there is a shifting of sorts. I am noticing this mostly in music but it is thumping up in all the art spheres.
Irony is not dead but it’s just boring and ineffectual. There is a desire for privacy and intimacy. There is a want and need for process and a form of slowness and smallness that is neither about process, scale or speed. We are all worn out and tired of all the pushing, branding, hype machine bullshit that is being spammed at us all the time. We want what is real and it seems right now that we are trying to find it in emotions, feelings, the simpleness of living and caring for oneself and others.
I hope this trend manifests further and I hope that it somehow shifts how the art world is functioning and how people interact with each other within it. Will this get co-opted? Probably, but this isn’t about being a new redux of emo. Well at least I hope it’s not and if it is, let’s burn it and start again.