Gas is a mobile, experimental, and online platform for contemporary art located in a truck gallery parked around Los Angeles. The current exhibit, take care, features: Hayley Barker, Darya Diamond, Ian James, Young Joon Kwak, C Lavender Suarez, Sarah Manuwal, Saewon Oh, Amanda Vincelli, and SoftCells presents: Jules Gimbrone. The curator Ceci Moss collaborates closely with artists to create experiences that foster community and connection while imagining alternative forms of cultural and critical production.
“A number of the artists in take care, involve feminist and anticapitalist alternative healing and spiritual practices, which have historical roots in social justice movements. How do radical ambitions of ‘self-care’ persist or depart from capitalist society’s preoccupation with wellness and the industry surrounding it, particularly when filtered through technological advances? How can we imagine personal wellness that complicates or diverges from capitalist and consumerist tendencies? Taking its name from the common valediction, which is both an expression of familiarity and an instruction of caution, ‘take care,’ is a group exhibition that considers the many tensions surrounding the possibilities of self-care.”
I asked Moss, the creator of Gas Gallery and curator of take care, to put together a booklist (and film recommendations) that relate to the exhibit.
The exhibit will be on view at the Edendale Library for one evening. Gas Gallery will be parked outside the Branch at the Sunset Blvd entrance on Thursday, July 19 from 6 - 8 p.m.
take care: Books & Films
Originally published in 1970, this classic is a primer on women’s health and self-sufficiency.
This book presents a history of American consumer culture in the 20th century. Examining a number of economic, political, and sociological factors from the 1900s until 2000, Cross argues that Americans seek personal freedom through consumerism, which has become the dominant ideology within American culture.
Written in his signature circuitous, postmodern style, Davis discusses the relationship between the aims of technological development and spirituality, covering territory as diverse as alchemy to virtual reality. Davis sees technology as presenting a new interface between “the self, the other and the world beyond” and as such, becomes a central part of the dynamic between these three categories.
In this series of lectures from the College de France, delivered from 1981-1982, Foucault presents a detailed study of “epimeleia heautou” (care of oneself) rooted in antiquity, and its importance for notions of truth and subjectivity. In short, he sees that historically and philosophically, “epimeleia heautou” was a separate practice from “gnothi seauton” (knowing oneself) until the introduction of Descartes and onward. With the advent of what he describes as the “Cartesian moment,” to know and to care for oneself become part of the same project, with clear political consequences. These lectures fed into his more widely read “The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self” but I find the language and the argument to be quite accessible, and obviously relevant to thinking through ideas the ideas that influence what we consider “self-care” today.
Todd Haynes film from 1995 starring Julianne Moore follows a suburban housewife as she becomes ill from a mysterious environmental disease. One of Haynes greatest films set in the 1980s, the story reflects on health, self-help, consumerism, and environmental devastation.
Audre Lorde’s well-known quote “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” derives from the title essay of this anthology “A Burst of Light.” In the text, Lorde speaks frankly about her experience with cancer and relates her struggle to a feminist, anti-racist project where certain bodies are not meant to survive.
Historian Jennifer Nelson examines the feminist and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and how they connected notions of health and the need for access to social justice. Through case studies of community clinics and the struggle for reproductive rights, Nelson shows how activists thoroughly redefined health care. “Self-care” as an activist concept is deeply rooted in this history, which Nelson expertly navigates.