Erica Cristobal | ECONOMIES OF CARE

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My dad has a small house in Angadanan, Isabela, Philippines that is filled with framed family photos and scattered with electric fans to ease the scorching temperatures. Upon my arrival to this place in 2017, I was greeted by relatives and neighbors who had last seen me when I was only two years old. The atmosphere was enriched with a culture and community that demonstrated the lifestyle my dad and mom had prior to their immigration to Canada in the early 1980’s.
 
 
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ERICA CRISTOBAL, 2017.
What was most prominent from this trip was seeing the way my titas washed dishes using water from a well. They pumped the water and crouched low to the ground in order to scrub and tend to each dish one by one. I was drawn towards this scene because it shifted this never-ending labour of cleaning into a collaborative and physical action. I can recall my tita saying to me, “this is how we take care of each other.” This was a labour enacted by the gathering of women working together. The photograph I captured from this experience stuck with me, and I carried it into the conceptualization and execution of my MFA thesis exhibition, Room for Taking Care. My titas washing dishes demonstrated how care could manifest relationally, as a call and response.
 
 
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ERICA CRISTOBAL, 2017.
My dad has a small house in Angadanan, Isabela, Philippines that is filled with framed family photos and scattered with electric fans to ease the scorching temperatures. Upon my arrival to this place in 2017, I was greeted by relatives and neighbors who had last seen me when I was only two years old. The atmosphere was enriched with a culture and community that demonstrated the lifestyle my dad and mom had prior to their immigration to Canada in the early 1980’s.
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ERICA CRISTOBAL, 2017.
What was most prominent from this trip was seeing the way my titas washed dishes using water from a well. They pumped the water and crouched low to the ground in order to scrub and tend to each dish one by one. I was drawn towards this scene because it shifted this never-ending labour of cleaning into a collaborative and physical action. I can recall my tita saying to me, “this is how we take care of each other.” This was a labour enacted by the gathering of women working together. The photograph I captured from this experience stuck with me, and I carried it into the conceptualization and execution of my MFA thesis exhibition, Room for Taking Care. My titas washing dishes demonstrated how care could manifest relationally, as a call and response.
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ERICA CRISTOBAL, 2017.
 
Room for Taking Care was a performance series and exhibition featuring Amy Wong and her son Rudi, Nedda Baba and Ayumi Goto. In the process of putting together the project, we met regularly for coffee and conversation on the topic of care in context to our positions as Asian diasporic women. The project developed from these exchanges, and directed the scheduling of the performances that we set to occur in succession, one day after another.
HOVER TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
 
Room for Taking Care was a performance series and exhibition featuring Amy Wong and her son Rudi, Nedda Baba and Ayumi Goto. In the process of putting together the project, we met regularly for coffee and conversation on the topic of care in context to our positions as Asian diasporic women. The project developed from these exchanges, and directed the scheduling of the performances that we set to occur in succession, one day after another.
TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
Room for Taking Care was a performance series and exhibition featuring Amy Wong and her son Rudi, Nedda Baba and Ayumi Goto. In the process of putting together the project, we met regularly for coffee and conversation on the topic of care in context to our positions as Asian diasporic women. The project developed from these exchanges, and directed the scheduling of the performances that we set to occur in succession, one day after another.
TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
Beginning with Amy and Rudi, the conventions of the gallery were displaced by Crayola paint and markers. Together, they encouraged participation of subsequent viewers to continue to colour on the walls and plinths to play in the space.
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ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
Beginning with Amy and Rudi, the conventions of the gallery were displaced by Crayola paint and markers. Together, they encouraged participation of subsequent viewers to continue to colour on the walls and plinths to play in the space.
Image
ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
On the following day, Nedda came in and rearranged the plinths to bring viewers at floor level to sit, have conversations, and eat the seeds from the pomegranates she deseeded. As an act of reflection on her familial connections with the fruit, she created a moment of rest and slowed down the pace of the room.
HOVER TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
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ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
On the following day, Nedda came in and rearranged the plinths to bring viewers at floor level to sit, have conversations, and eat the seeds from the pomegranates she deseeded. As an act of reflection on her familial connections with the fruit, she created a moment of rest and slowed down the pace of the room.
TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
 
Image
ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
On the following day, Nedda came in and rearranged the plinths to bring viewers at floor level to sit, have conversations, and eat the seeds from the pomegranates she deseeded. As an act of reflection on her familial connections with the fruit, she created a moment of rest and slowed down the pace of the room.
TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
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ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
Ayumi was present during the previous performances, which enabled her to perform thoughtfully in remembrance of how Amy, Rudi, Nedda, and I used the space. She invited onlookers to join her in reflection, using the senses to touch, listen, and look at all aspects of the room. The artists led with care for familial connections, cultural continuance, and collective autonomy.
HOVER TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
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ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
Ayumi was present during the previous performances, which enabled her to perform thoughtfully in remembrance of how Amy, Rudi, Nedda, and I used the space. She invited onlookers to join her in reflection, using the senses to touch, listen, and look at all aspects of the room. The artists led with care for familial connections, cultural continuance, and collective autonomy.
TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
Image
ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
Ayumi was present during the previous performances, which enabled her to perform thoughtfully in remembrance of how Amy, Rudi, Nedda, and I used the space. She invited onlookers to join her in reflection, using the senses to touch, listen, and look at all aspects of the room. The artists led with care for familial connections, cultural continuance, and collective autonomy.
TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS BY ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
Image
ELLEN SNOWBALL, 2019.
As curator, this project enabled me to spend time learning to navigate and respond to situations that unfolded throughout the process. From initial meetings with the artists, and during installation and take-down of the show, I was challenged by the example set by my titas. The care they demonstrated was relational and embodied a collaborative effort. Carrying these ideas as the curator was not always a seamless action. I had to learn patience, both with myself and others and how to make adjustments.
 
 
As curator, this project enabled me to spend time learning to navigate and respond to situations that unfolded throughout the process. From initial meetings with the artists, and during installation and take-down of the show, I was challenged by the example set by my titas. The care they demonstrated was relational and embodied a collaborative effort. Carrying these ideas as the curator was not always a seamless action. I had to learn patience, both with myself and others and how to make adjustments.
 
Above all, Room for Taking Care was an animation of the photograph and experience of my titas washing dishes. Each of the works devoted attention to a labour of care by collaborating with one another and the public throughout the project, which became integral to the exhibition’s progression. Together, each artist circumvented any singular narrative of care, and purposefully broadened and extended the idea to include how other artists and participants grappled with the term. A generative and fulfilling experience, Room for Taking Care functioned as an incubator for learning how we relate and respond to what and who needs to be cared for.
 
Above all, Room for Taking Care was an animation of the photograph and experience of my titas washing dishes. Each of the works devoted attention to a labour of care by collaborating with one another and the public throughout the project, which became integral to the exhibition’s progression. Together, each artist circumvented any singular narrative of care, and purposefully broadened and extended the idea to include how other artists and participants grappled with the term. A generative and fulfilling experience, Room for Taking Care functioned as an incubator for learning how we relate and respond to what and who needs to be cared for.


ERICA CRISTOBAL | Erica Cristobal is an independent curator and writer based in Toronto. She currently works in the Education department at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

WEB & GRAPHIC DESIGN | Natasha Whyte-Gray
ERICA CRISTOBAL | Erica Cristobal is an independent curator and writer based in Toronto. She currently works in the Education department at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

WEB & GRAPHIC DESIGN | Natasha Whyte-Gray
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