Barbara Mahlknecht

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Barbara Mahlknecht's MPhil/PhD Art research project

This curatorial research engages in the Wages for Housework campaign launched in 1972 by the International Feminist Collective to struggle for and against the invisible and gendered labour of housework.

Rather than considering the campaign as a superseded history, this project reconsiders it as a central point of orientation for emerging theories and practices of radical care in curating. By the means of archival and curatorial practice, I explore the campaign’s theories, social relations, and organisational strategies, to investigate how to make use of the transformative potential of its legacy in contemporary practices of radical feminist curating.

With the multiple contemporary emergencies of social reproduction and care, that have intensified throughout the global Covid19 pandemic, curators, activists, and theorists have demonstrated increased interest in the topic of care. While critiquing the hierarchies, inequalities, exclusions that the contemporary art institution re/produces, care is envisioned as a site of survival, commitment, response/ability, and conviviality.

In making claims for inclusion, equality, fair payment, antisexism, and anti-racism, curators, activists, and theorists have recently promoted an ‘ethics of care.’ Conversely, this project seeks to translate aspects of the organisation of the Wages for Housework campaign into contemporary understandings of radical care in curating.

It will employ a series of curatorial iterations transposing several moments of the feminist struggle on housework in 1970s Italy into the present. The aim is to explore its potential and to answer if and how curatorial practise can reorient itself at radical feminist movements for instigating an integral change for more money and more time.