‘Emotional labour of social practice artists: moving towards sustainable collective care’ is a seed project led by Dr Rebecca Gordon in collaboration with clinical psychologist Dr Naomi White. In partnership with the Social Art Network (SAN) and in critical discussion with Professor Mignon Nixon from UCL History of Art, this research has been made possible by the generous support of the UCL SHS Dean’s Strategic Fund 2022.
The aim of this project is to identify some of the perceived ‘emotional labour’ of social practice artists – those artists who make social relationships and structures the primary medium of their work (Ravetz & Wright 2020: 15). Emotional labour is understood in this study as the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfil the emotional requirements of a task or work role.
The arts are often cited as beneficial in alleviating burnout more widely, yet very little is written about burnout in artists whose primary method of creation involves emotional labour. What infrastructures of care, resources and training need to be implemented to safeguard artists in their work? Through questionnaire responses and a critical forum in partnership with SAN in June this project asks how we can build sustainable collective care into such working practices and ecologies.
Image: 'How are you feeling?' Artist Rebecca Thomson, curated by the drawing shed in Trio, The Sunken Garden, Attlee Terrace housing estate, E17 3EQ. Photo: Sally Labern.