Curating as Care – Bridging Migration Community Through Socially Engaged Art

Title draft: Curating as Care – Bridging Migration Community Through Socially Engaged Art Project.

Dissertation Research


I want to introduce a relationship between curatorial practice and care in the context of migration.

I will focus on a shifting role of contemporary curating from caring objects/organising displays to caring people who need support, who are socially excluded.

I would like to introduce one project which is socially engaged and encourages public to a discussion about a process of integration with migrants through exhibition. I would like to analyse a process of creating a project called Sink Without Trace, exhibition presented in June 13 – July 13, 2019 at P21 Gallery. Sink Without Trace presented work by eighteen artists on the subject of migrant deaths at sea. The exhibition brought together artists from different countries: Denmark, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel, Italy, Slovakia, South Africa, Sudan and the UK- currently living in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

Building on theoretical debate about migration studies nowadays, in the context of autonomy of migration in the UK I will explore how art forms can become a discourse in the narrative of migration, how curating can become a new platform of communicating with audience and accelerating the situation of migrants in Europe.

I will examine curating as care in the context of migration and I will introduce the current situation in the UK related to a decision of leaving the country from European Union. Referring to the current situation I would like to explore:
a. art as medium in communication with migrants
How to accelerate an intercultural dialogue through art practice?
b. curating as care
How can curating help in a process of integration with migrants?
c. migration community
What kind of narrative a migration community can bring to the society? How to find a way to communicate?
d. need of care and support through curatorial practice
What are the strategies to create a dialogue in the curatorial discourse? How can curating become a new platform of communicating with audience?
Tutor’s comment: just ensure that your literature is not solely around curating. Keep in mind the question how your topic fits within the wider field of cultural policy and/or arts management. It is quite easy to become immerse in curatorial discourse but it will be good to look outside of it.

In my research I will refer to a historical meaning of curating as cure, from visual aesthetics to discourse and dialogue.

  • The relational thesis of experiences introduced at social and personal levels including research into the exhibition project about migration.
  • Study on the current situation regarding the migration in the UK and see how the main project work analysed in this thesis can be a good medium in communication with the origin citizens.
  • Understanding of care as methodology in the curatorial practice – explaining this term from the migration perspective through analysing the exhibition project.
    Tutor’s comment: The difference between addressing policy and curating is that in the former you may be looking into the broader context of where your case study exhibition took place, to understand what motivates certain decisions. This may have to do with the broader national policy. It is important you reach beyond the curatorial questions such as themes, display, choice of artists, selection of works, to as wider questions about how this exhibition fits into the broader sociopolitical context and what policies, at relevant levels, may have influenced the fact that the exhibition was staged.


My approach to these questions will be analytical and theoretical.
In my research I will refer to a historical meaning of curating as cure, from visual aesthetics to discourse and dialogue. I will explain the meaning of care, migration, migrants’ community

Notion of care

The etymological genesis of curating comes from ‘cura’ — understanding curating as a practice of care. Originally caretakers of objects, discourses with socially engaged art have evolved contemporary curators into custodians of audiences, communities and the psychological experiences contained within them.

Referring to the role of curator as carer in mind, I want to examine the complex psychological experiences taken through the main project Sink Without Trace to show how care-taking paradigms from object relations with political and social discourse engage with sensitive issues related to trauma and deaths of migrants.

Notion of migration

I will define a notion of migration in a broader context referring to exhibition project of Sink Without Trace presented by international artists in London. Through this project I would like to refer to a definition of care which are described by structures used in the project which enable emotions and expressions to be encountered.

I will conduct my research within a contextual framework which sits in a postmodernist paradigm to consider the ethical and structural aspects of artists and curators’ participation in communities. These aspects will be framed within the arts policy and management.
To refer to the meaning of curating, I will review existing relevant literature to figure out how other researchers have defined key terms such curating, community, socially engaged art in the contemporary studies. I will look at different definitions proposed by art critics, researchers, curators, artists and will compare critically and analytically. I will also try to identify the relationships between the terms explained by other theorists and I will apply the existing concepts in my dissertation research.

To investigate the research aims, I will focus on a discourse analysis using relevant sources as main ‘objects of analysis which help me in understanding a context of work project I will be referring in this thesis and analysing a process of project of the Sink Without Trace exhibition.
I will refer to Stuart Hall’s theory on the cultural identity to be able to introduce the personal and narrative content of the project which opens up a transitional space for social perspectives on the integration processes with migrant community.

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