Sarah Perks (Curator)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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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 class and 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, 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! Safe was an original and new group exhibition at HOME, Manchester, curated jointly by Professor Sarah Perks and Dr Louise O’Hare. It featured the responses of nine international artists, eight writers and academics, and that of the curators, to themes exposed by the film Safe (1995), to create a dialogic presentation that reveals new understanding around representation and textual analysis. As part of the exhibition, Perks and O’Hare co-edited the publication Are You Allergic to the 21st Century? International artists for this exhibition selected and commissioned by Perks included multiple award winners and two Turner Prize nominees: Claire Makhlouf Carter, Michael Dean, Chris Paul Daniels, Sunil Gupta, Brian Lobel, Laura Morrison, Yoshua Okón, James Richards, Jala Wahid and Camilla Wills, and as writers Hannah Black, Sarah M Harrison, Omar Kholeif, Peter Kingstone, Bridget Penney, Emma Jane Unsworth, John Walter and Jason Wood.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2015


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