Refuge in the Means, a public residency about care and labor, took place at Recess in September and October of 2016 in downtown Manhattan. During our session, we created an open community space and information center, as well as taking time within our group to investigate the layers of labor and care embedded in our four-year-long collective practice. All aspects of our installation and our events engaged questions of accessibility, and access needs shaped both the visible and invisible architecture of the space we created. Among our public offerings were a reading room, daily group meditations, Craniosacral therapy sessions, as well evening workshops related to self-care and community-care. During Recess’s open hours, visitors were welcome to drop in to peruse the library, visit with Canaries members, or simply rest.
In life under neoliberal capitalism, independence is sold as the aspirational mode of being. And yet, the reality is that our lives are dependent on the labor and care of others. Through physical vulnerability, Canaries have discovered that dependence and independence are the warp and weft of the same fabric. The gesture of choosing each other, of creating extra-capitalist working structures is critical to our survival. We are not interested in changing the world via large gestures, but prefer to focus on the small interpersonal influences we have on our immediate world. This is an ethos central to Canaries members, a hope for futurity––where thinking deeply about how care ripples out into larger contexts has the potential to alter society from the base of the structure up. Our hope is that the interdependent networks of care we established amongst Canaries and the community created through our Recess session will be sustainable and continue long past the period of the session.