Documents of Contemporary Art: Health
Part of the acclaimed Documents of Contemporary Art series of anthologies which collect writing on major themes and ideas in contemporary art.
"Health – or lack thereof – couldn’t be a more urgent subject today, with the catastrophic spread of Covid-19 dramatising unprecedented threats to global society. With the institutional inequalities of decades-old neoliberalism, medical response capacity is failing, wholly underdeveloped in many parts of the world, leaving racialised bodies prey to biogenetic capital. Critical health research is now vital, making this impressive contribution of diverse voices particularly welcome."
-T.J. Demos, Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture and Director, Center for Creative Ecologies, University of California, Santa Cruz
"This important collection exposes systemic assumptions about wellbeing and productivity, access and disability, to reimagine the entangled relations between individual and social bodies. Emphasising lineages of knowledge that challenge and exceed normative ideas of health, it offers tools for forging structures and spaces of collective care. It could not be more powerful, moving, or timely."
-Helena Reckitt, Reader in Curating, Goldsmiths, University of London
In an era of fitness programmes, record antidepressant usage, nutrition counselling and health-management apps, wellness is one of the defining issues of contemporary life, dictating every intimate aspect of our lives. Historically, art has been entwined with the values of medicine, beauty and the productive body that have defined the western scientific paradigms; contemporary artists are increasingly confronting and reshaping these ideologies, critically tackling illness and impairment in their practice while changing ableist institutional dynamics. At a moment in which epidemics and global warming menace all forms of life, this anthology engages with the ways the vulnerability of our bodies and the maladies that seize them also reveal structural aspects of our societies, exposing how health intersects with sexuality, ethnicity, gender, class and coloniality. By reclaiming other realities, beyond a state of health as a norm, this reader questions the myths, stigmas and cultural attitudes that shape normative perceptions, ultimately revealing the interdependence of our entangled existences.
With newly commissioned texts by artists Mahmoud Khaled and Patrick Staff; new essays by curator Clare Barlow on disability in the museum and curator Portia Malatjie on the work of Dineo Seshee Bopape; and two recent texts on Covid-19 by writers Anne Boyer and Filipa Ramos.
Artists surveyed include Oreet Ashery, Lucy Beech, Lorenza Böttner, Canaries & Taraneh Fazeli, Grupo Chaclacayo, Anne Charlotte Robertson, Patricia Domínguez, Dora García, Felix González-Torres, Luke Fowler, Tamar Guimarães, Joseph Grigely, Gran Fury, Johanna Hedva, Mujeres Creando, Carolyn Lazard, Simone Leigh, Park McArthur, Pedro Neves Marques, Tabita Rezaire, Jo Spence, Christine Sun Kim, Pedro Reyes, David Wojnarowicz.
Writers include Aimar Arriola & Nancy Garín, Khairani Barokka, Dodie Bellamy, Rizvana Bradley, Eli Clare, Taraneh Fazeli, Alice Hattrick & Naomi Pearce, Theodore (ted) Kerr & Alexandra Juhasz, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, R.D. Laing, Miguel A. López, Catalina Lozano, Audre Lorde, Margarida Mendes, Peter Pál Pelbart, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Susan Sontag, Paul B. Preciado, Mary Walling Blackburn, Simon Watney & Sunil Gupta.
Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz is a writer and Curator of Temporary Exhibitions at Wellcome Collection, London. Her exhibitions include ‘This is a Voice’ (2016), ‘Bedlam’ (co-curated with Mike Jay, 2017), and ‘Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery: Misbehaving Bodies’ (co-curated with George Vasey, 2019–20). She has written for Afterall, Concreta, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, MARG and Mousse Publishing.