An interdisciplinary research program about the ethics and politics of care.

The diminishing of care in all facets of human life has been one of the major effects of neoliberal austerity policies, that was made even more visible during the global pandemic of Sars-Covid19.

These last decades neoliberalism has capitalized on the individualist notion of care, widely promoted as “self-care,” through an industry with billions in revenues. By “leaning-in” and taking care of oneself, contemporary subjectivities of the so-called “developed” world are tasked with the care of their overworked bodies, but are less and less interested in the wellbeing of bodies that are outside of the immediate realm of their family, class, working environment, neighborhood, city, country.

Care—and its ethics and politics—has been a subject matter the art world is concerned with. The global pandemic has made it all the more urgent. But is it a real concern that will lead to change in the ways we operate in our institutions and working relationships? How can care – if studied care-fully –  provide transformative responses to the various problems that art institutions have been facing? Why are contemporary art institutions keen to talk about care, when they have been so care-less themselves? How can an art institution embody and practice the knowledge and the politics of care in a meaningful way?

A global pandemic demands a move from institutional critique to institutional transformation. From working towards making inequalities visible, it is now time to actually change our institutions, building on feminist, queer and black critique and demands for the redistribution of care. Aiming for the futures of care-ful practice, we wish to act on the possibilities enabled by the voices that speak from legacies of countless forms of collective care: healers, care workers, mothers, social workers, educators, cultural workers.

The Bureau of Care gathers artists, activists, writers and social workers to script and visualise the foundations for a European post-pandemic politics of care. Through the pandemic we have become even more aware of the truly essential workers: nurses, cleaners, educators, cultural workers, and others. Based on the values they represent, the Bureau will develop a handbook, exhibition and series of gatherings that propose the ideas and forms that make a new politics of care imaginable and actionable.
The Bureau of Care will consist of three components: a series of gatherings (online & physical), a handbook and a physical bureau. The handbook is essentially the script through which we will gather contributions of artists, activists, writers and social workers, to define the pillars—in words and image—of the post-pandemic politics of care we aim to bring into being. We will ask contributors not simply to reflect on what defines care, but for actionable forms and practices, ways of being and organizing, for the world [unfolding before our eyes. The handbook will be a physical publication.

The bureau will manifest as a digital platform on one hand and as a physical bureau in State of Concept Athens and other institutions. On both its physical and virtual locations, we will translate the various actionable propositions gathered in the handbook, into a mapping of a “how to” of care, as an on- and offline exhibition of ideas and imaginaries. The Bureau of Care will simultaneously be the space for gatherings: a place where we assemble within the mapping of new collectivities of care.

The project is realised in collaboration with various institutions, organisations and individuals such as WHW Akademjia, Framer Framed Amsterdam, Latvian Center for Contemporary Art, Kunsthalle Wien, Arts of the Working Class, Open School for Migrants in Pireaus, Melissa Center for Migrant Women, Feminist Research Group a.o.

The Bureau of Care is realised under the “Solidarity Grant” of the European Cultural Foundation.