Call for submissions:
SELF-CARE FOR SKEPTICS — A FEMINIST MANIFESTO
The notions of self-love and self-care circulate in contemporary North American society in relation to spa days, diet regimens, fitness, quiet time, clay masks, cups of tea, vacation, creative expression, meditation, yoga, eating chocolate, not eating chocolate, gardening, journalling, organizing, spending time outdoors, and other socially sanctioned (and often highly gendered) activities just for me. There is a tendency to use the term “self-care” when referring to those practices deemed healthy and good for us — and thereby positively valued — without questioning what the stakes of these so-called self-care practices are in the context of patriarchal neoliberal capitalist ideology (with its neo-imperializing tendencies).
What does self-care look like, entail, require, or provoke for artists, writers, thinkers, performers, percolators, and makers who identify as feminists?
How does a feminist ethic and aesthetic shape our understanding of self-care practices, and the ideological implications of the forms that mainstream self-care practices tend to take?
In her handbook of feminist theory (Feminism is for Everybody, 1990), anti-oppression theorist bell hooks makes the convincing argument that “Everything we do in life is rooted in theory” (19). Near the end of her text, she claims that one cannot be a liberated feminist woman until one develops, or at least consciously works toward cultivating, healthy self-esteem and self-love. Self-Care for Skeptics was catalyzed by the ambivalence such a statement provokes: while it might be true that a practice of taking care of oneself or meeting one’s needs is a necessary first step in a vital feminist politics and aesthetics, we run the risk of placing further shame on feminists for not being “good enough” or for having failed in their politics and ethics. Indebted to contemporary queer writing on issues around failure, this zine will also trouble the boundaries dividing healthy/vital/life-giving/successful and unhealthy/degenerate/death/failure in an effort to root self-care practices in both the eros (life drive) and thanatos (death drive) that informs each of our existences.
The visual art (including performance, video, sculpture, and other media) and writing in this zine will seek to problematize areas in which the discourse of self-care has become stuck, while brainstorming fresh possibilities. How might we expand the discourse beyond such rather tenuous terms like “empowerment,” while also keeping in mind the issues in defaulting to fraught binaries of ‘health’ and ‘illness’?
The final product will be a zine journal, available both as a pdf and in print.
Please see below for some possible themes to take up in relation to this call!
Socially-engaged art practices, ethics, consent, and the limits to bridging art practices with social work endeavours; feminist self-care practices as a means of cultivating supportive communities in an age of precarious labor, compassion fatigue, burn-out, backlash, austerity, emotional exhaustion; what is required for supportive communities for feminist artists?
Healing, trauma, and memory; practices and rituals of self-healing; feminism and art practice as strategies of engaging with memory and trauma; issues of boundaries, agency, and precarious trauma (the unintended transfer of one’s trauma to another person; the reliving of a traumatic event when one is not equipped to relive it at that moment)
The body in public space; strategies and tactics of ‘reclaiming’ space; discourses of safety and social hygiene; rape culture and Slut Walk.
Self-care practices that emerge from performance art and other embodied art practices; discourse of “the body” and “embodiment”; for example, feminist and queer performance artists who use their own body as the material of their practice can come up against all sorts of violent and reactionary responses — having to defend their practices against critiques ranging from narcissism to exhibitionism; how does one approach self-care when their work so intimately and rigorously involves their body?
Selfie culture and self-care; selfies and feminist art practices; the notion of radical narcissism (Amelia Jones on Hannah Wilke)
Self-care practices that embrace death, illness, grief, violence, decay; harm-reduction, substance abuse, and the politics of choice; reconsidering the binaries between health/well-being/life (eros) on the one hand, and illness/pathology/death/degeneracy (thanatos) on the other; thinking about thanatos after Freud (where eros is the binding life drive and thanatos is the unbinding death drive); there is a great deal of contemporary queer theory on the death drive (Lee Edelman’s No Future, for example) — what are the possibilities for the death drive in relation to feminist theory and practice?
Yoga, meditation, and other spiritually and culturally bound practices; the limitations of movements that seek to “de-colonize” such practices; alternative exercise and fitness practices; strategies for feminist artists and thinkers to engage with these practices when one is aware of potentially dissonant ethics (ex. a white woman’s potential complicity in neo-imperialism and white privilege when she finishes a yoga class at an expensive studio in Toronto with the utterance Namaste); notions of mindfulness and intentionality
Crossfit and other fitness movements; questions of accessibility, agency, and coercion in relation to fitness under capitalism; YMCA and YWCA; the notion of using the ‘urban jungle’ as one’s gym
Alternative, non-traditional, and/or DIY methods of ‘mental health care’ — including physical health care, emotional health care, spiritual health care. Problems of power, knowledge, violence, class, and accessibility in the institutions of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and the overall medical establishment — both historically and today. The medicalization of the body/mind; the cognitive sciences in late capitalism; the pharmaceutical industry. Health insurance in the age of precarious labor — who can afford the mental health care that they might require? What are strategies for healing or caring for one’s own mental health, if such a project is feasible and desirable?
Food, consumption, nourishment; alternative practices around food, including but not limited to: vegetarianism, veganism, gluten-free, raw, paleo, local, fermentation cultures; discourse of intolerance and fad diets; Carol J. Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat; gender and dieting; pathology and eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia listed as psychiatric illnesses in the most recent DSM-IV); the future of feminism and food; the discourse of body image and self-esteem in relation to a feminist practices; the use of food in feminist performance art practices (Karen Finley, Carolee Schneemann, and Jana Sterbak, to name a few)
Issues around vicarious trauma and trigger warnings. What responsibilities do we have, both to ourselves and to those viewing our practices, in providing “trigger warnings”?; see Jack Halberstam’s recently published essay, “You are triggering me! The neo-liberal rhetoric of harm, danger, and trauma” (http://bullybloggers.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/you-are-triggering-me-the-neo-liberal-rhetoric-of-harm-danger-and-trauma/)
The fat positive movement; NOLOSE and the movement to end the oppression of fat people (“the revolution just got bigger”); the “Health At Every Size” campaign and empowerment through reclaiming the language of health; fatspo; fat feminism; histories of radical self-acceptance movements
HIV-positive (poz) individuals and self-care; experiences of stigma; how might dialogues of safer sex, disclosure, criminalization, and the persistent stigmatization of poz folks inhibit the development of collective and publicly accessible self-care networks and strategies
Sound, vibration, and energy healing; Toronto-based poz artist Andrew Zealey’s “Disco Hospital” as an example of queer self-healing practices; the role of music and sound in self-care rituals
Trans embodiment; trans bodies, trans subjectivities, and self-care practices; community care-giving in relation to gender-transition and surgery
First Nations peoples in/and Canada; Aboriginal intergenerational exchange as a self-care strategy; issues of colonization and decolonization in relation to self-care; self-care and collective care (families — chosen or birth, communities)○ Playing with the boundaries between nature and culture; ecofeminism and post-ecofeminist practices; feminism and paganism; ritual and self-care; Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto (we are all cyborgs — human-animal-machine hybrid subjectivities and ontologies); digifeminism, geek feminisms, and the role of technology in feminist self-care practices
This call is open to individuals of all gender identifications and orientations. While all submissions will be considered, the manifesto is aligned with a queer, feminist, fat-positive mandate that is anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, and anti-racist.
We are accepting creative writing (experimental writing, conceptual writing, short stories, plays), theoretical writing (short essays, other forms), images from performance art, video, dance, painting, sculpture, new media, and other visual art work. This list is a provisional one — if you are working in a form or medium that is not mentioned here, please feel free to submit!
Please feel free to invite your friends and anyone who you think might be interested in this call.
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Submit your proposal as a single PDF to email@example.com
Subject Headline: “SELF-CARE SUBMISSION”
Please include a brief biographical statement, the title and description of the work you are proposing (whether image or text-based), and a sample image (as high-quality PNG or JPEG)
Deadline for submissions is October 31, 2014
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About the editor:
Lauren Fournier is a writer and thinker who makes video, sound, performance, and text-based work.
A note on privilege and accessibility:
I approach this project acknowledging my whiteness, my middle class privilege, and my positionality as a cis-gendered woman and PhD student at the institution of York University. I have been well-acquainted with the mental health system in Canada, both as a patient and as a care provider. My PhD project and my artistic practice make use of feminist theory and practices of writing the body to interrogate the notion of the ‘hysteric body’. This project is not affiliated with any institution or funding body. Any profits made from the final zine will be evenly distributed amongst the contributors.
- Lauren Fournier