Care is a defining characteristic of human society. The anthropologist Margaret Mead said that the first sign of civilization is a healed femur, the thigh bone. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die because you cannot escape from danger and you cannot get to food or water. A healed femur shows that someone carried you to safety and cared for you during your recovery. Yet despite this, care is badly accounted for in our society today. As the current pandemic has shown, care work is essential work but often poorly paid, and systems of care, whether it be health care, education or retirement, tend to be underfunded. While care is essential to the functioning of society, our economy is care deficient. How can this discrepancy be bridged?
Approaching money as an allocation of rights rather than as an object, we look beyond zero sum narratives towards how care could be better economically represented, and perhaps even re-define the economic stories that shape much of our social lives. More specifically, we have been looking at how social relationships can be organised for a successful parallel currency to address the lack of financing care work receives. Money as an allocation of rights to resources is more than just a medium of exchange and trade; we must look beyond private interests towards the relationship between money and public social infrastructure.
Furthermore, our project analyzes and develops propaganda mechanisms as tools that could function and be applied in the context of care as common good. We will explore how narratives can transform individually driven action into a socially beneficial outcome.
Beyond the economic or legal framework for elevating the act of care is an unquantifiable aspect, an aspect that cannot be codified – perhaps an aspect best defined only in opposition to legal or economic regimes, and thus requiring their framework in any event. How do we prepare for acceptance of care given, something equally as problematic given the societal mythologies of autonomy, independence, etc, so deeply embedded in constructions of the self and the econo-legal framework. By a respectful reaction against econo-legal protection and in exploring the embodied act of care given and accepted in the context of everyday interactions/reaction toward, for example, limb impairment (and the important aspect of requirement/expectation of dexterity) we hope to present some alternate understandings of care as embodied act per se.
The project (initially titled Viral Fictions) by Forms of Ownership collective is realised in context of the European Media Art Platform artist residencies 2020. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the cooperation took place mainly online with the exception of Vienne Chan's 3-week work period in Helsinki in September 2020.