Safe, a group exhibition at HOME Manchester, was co-curated by Professor Sarah Perks and Dr Louise O’Hare. It investigated how interpretation and re-presentation of the film Safe (1995) opens a relational dialogue challenging mainstream narratives around privilege, health and care post-AIDS epidemic, environmental issues and self-help.
O’Hare and Perks’ interdisciplinary curatorial research examines representations of care within visual art, through the lens of socialist art histories (Harvey, 1991), intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989; 1991), disability rights advocacy (Sandell, Dodd & Garland-Thomson, 2010), crip (McRuer, 2002; 2006) and queer theory (Sedgwick, 1990; Butler, 1990). Perks specifically used film and critical theory on adaptation (Hutcheon, 2006; 2013), appropriation (Evans, 2009) and pastiche (Dyer, 2007), as well as a background in cultural studies that interrogates the concept of white privilege (McIntosh, 1989) and representation (Hall, 1997).
Selecting artists and writers who were, in turn, co-investigating and reviewing the text and textual analysis of Safe, Perks revealed new understanding around representation and textual analysis, across positions, timeframes and places, creating a new multi-vocal form of exhibition in opposition to auteur ‘single mastermind’ curators (Lubar, 2014). Perks’ findings demonstrate a ‘decolonising’ of traditional gallery and museum exhibition curation, creating new understandings of how care is represented in visual art and her emerging field of relational curatorial strategy.
The exhibition included new commissions: Safe at Home! – An Audio Guide, YOU ARE A POWERHOUSE!, DEMO SAFE, The Bottom of the World, Receivers and Fridge-Freezer, that went on to be shown internationally at ICA London, The Tetley (Leeds), Hong Kong Arts Centre, and Proyectos Monclova (Mexico City). The publication Are you allergic to the 21st Century?, edited by Perks and O’Hare, adopted the form of a self-help manual. Perks wrote the script for Fridge-Freezer, produced The Bottom of the World and performed the (self)institutional critique work Safe At Home!