Curator Jenni Nurmenniemi: “Care is invisible, but societies don’t work without it”

Curator Jenni Nurmenniemi: “Care is invisible, but societies don’t work without it”

Care Practice: Recipes for Resilience is a project by curators Jenni Nurmenniemi and Ceci Moss. The workshops invite people to think about future art practices based on care. Jenni Nurmenniemi sheds light on what’s happening with the project.

Care Practice workshops will start soon. Could you describe what the project is about?

We will explore how future art structures and practices could be based on care. We try to think about how we can change our behaviour. How to change practices and structures on a larger scale, so that there can be better work conditions in the field of culture. Our second goal is to build a community, to function as a bridge between people. Ceci lives in Los Angeles and I in Helsinki. The two cities are completely different, so we thought this could generate something interesting.

There’s so much online content out there that only allows the audience to be passive viewers. We wanted to avoid that, so in our sessions the participants get to do various things: they write, use their whole bodies to listen, dance, and sing. Every participant will bring their own artistic view to the subject. We hope that it will be fun and participants will be eager.

The project approaches cultural adaptability and transformation through care. Where did you get the idea from?

The pandemic was the impetus for this project. For years, we have both been interested in social and ecological sustainability and possibilities of co-creation. We are actively looking for alternatives to so-called ’burn out culture’, caused by art culture that emphasises novelty and intense production. For a while, I’ve also been looking for alternatives to carbon-heavy cultural activities like mega exhibitions and behemoth biennials. We have both also been thinking of ways to work in the arts that would feel meaningful, insightful, strengthen the feeling of interconnectivity, and still be ecologically and socially sustainable. I also consider the project to be an experiment in post-carbon art practice: how can we maintain intercontinental connections and discussions if we can’t physically be in the same place.

Has your perception of care and resilience changed during the project or the pandemic?

Yes and no. It has been clear to me for a long time that care is a dimension of human life that doesn’t usually get much attention. Care is invisible, but societies can’t function without it. Rather than providing answers, the project is an invitation for everyone to think about how the future of care could be built.

Your team is international. What is the perception of care around the world?

I believe that the project will bring about discussion on the division of duty of care between different demographics, and the lack of support for frontline workers during the current pandemic. Controversially, the role that care workers play is recognised as essential, but they don’t get the support they need. However, our focus is in the field of arts and culture: how artists and different organisations can operate in volatile situations. We want to find out if it is necessary to develop new models of collaboration, funding or production, that would be based on a broader distribution of resources than before.

You are also looking into multi-artistic and multicultural dialogue. How do you see the future of international collaboration and mobility in arts after the pandemic?

With this project our intention is to see how intimate, multisensory and interactive art experiences can be created on digital platforms. Even after the pandemic ends, there will be no return to the way things were. For decades, the art world has been reliant on large-scale logistics and biennial travel, which to begin with is not normal. I don’t want to romanticise the situation because the pandemic is a horrible way to notice this. Of course, there will be people who want to go back to their old ways as soon as possible. It is the duty of the stakeholders of arts and culture to think and build a new environment, to think about what is truly meaningful. I wouldn’t want the borders to be closed forever, because intercultural dialogue and exchange bring about energy to renew the arts. This is a disparity I’m trying to resolve through my work.

What kind of impact do you hope your project will have?

I hope that this project will lead to new collaborations and friendships. There are no separate projects or single works, as all works are always a part of a continuum. For me the Care Practice project is also preparation for a longer project starting in the autumn. It’s going to be a multifaceted climate project in collaboration with artists and researchers. It will bring together the issues of social and ecological sustainability closer than before. Everything is connected.

Care Practice: Recipes for Resilience workshops will take place every Saturday throughout June, 10 AM (PST). More info and registration for the free workshops:

Text: Annika Pellonpää Picture: Tuomas A. Laitinen

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