Past Events

British Art History in Practice: Roundtable on Care

DRN Events – Natalie Kane, Janine Francois, Theodore (ted) Kerr

  • 11 May 2021
  • 2:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Online Event

This is an event for DRN members only. You can find out more about the network here.

This roundtable event intends to examine the importance of ‘care’ and ‘care-work’ as necessary practices within the institutions of British art and art history. The necessity of ‘care’ has been central to Black feminist theorising and practice. As Audre Lorde expressed in ‘A Burst of Light’, her essay on living with cancer: ‘caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare’. Care is important as anti-racist imperative and, as we learn from Lorde, necessary wherever art-historical narratives intersect with illness. How might an understanding of care change how we write histories of art and health crises, such as the AIDS crisis? How might we extend care not only towards the subjects of our histories, but our colleagues and friends in the present? How might we build lasting structures of care to challenge the demands of competition and productivity under the neoliberal university and arts industry?

Within British arts and educational institutions there is a long-overdue need for reflection, change and action. For those of us carrying out doctoral research within these sites for the production of knowledge and power, there is a renewed urgency to our work. This urgency is acutely felt when connected to questions of Britishness, race, disability and class, questions which are inherently relevant for any researcher now working in the context of a global health crisis, the renewed visibility of white supremacy and its manifestation in ‘the culture wars’. These roundtables will seek to engage with the work of researchers and artists who question British art history’s categorisations and narratives to explore the ways in which academic and arts institutions might respond to historic and contemporary injustices.

This series will provide a space for doctoral research students to explore their own subjectivities, positionalities and emotions, in order to rethink how they approach, reproduce and critique structural inequalities in their work. It will demonstrate how centring questions of access, care and pedagogy can transform British art history, its approaches and methods, its subject matter and its narratives.

About the speakers

  • Natalie Kane giving a talk with a woman behind her.

    Natalie Kane is Curator of Digital Design at the V&A. She is one-half of Haunted Machines, a curatorial research project with Tobias Revell, and an advisory board member of the Society of Computers and Law.

  • headshot of Janine Francois

    Janine Francois is a Black British Feminist, critic, writer and educator.

  • black-and-white photograph of reflection of Theodore Kerr

    Theodore (ted) Kerr is a writer and organiser based in Brooklyn, New York. His work primarily focuses on HIV / AIDS. He is a founding member of the collective What Would an HIV Doula Do?. His book, with co-author Alexandra Juhasz, WE ARE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION NOW: The Cultural Times of AIDS is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

    Photograph by Wiafe Mensah-Bonsu