Fellow 2019/2020

Grant Watson

Research curator and writer Grant Watson’s research and curatorial project How We Behave (2012–ongoing) explores queer-ascesis, as well as left- and ecopolitics through filmed interviews. His work has been shown at Extra City, Antwerp, 2017; Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2017; State of Concept, Athens, 2016; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 2015; The Showroom, London, 2015; and If I Can’t Dance, Amsterdam, 2014. He has curated projects with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2019; Lunds Konsthal, Dublin, 2014; nGbK, Berlin, 2014; Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, 2014; Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, 2013; among others. He was Co-Artistic Director of bauhaus imaginista (2016–2019) along with Marion von Osten, has held numerous curatorial positions, and has been Tutor at the Royal College of Art, London, since 2015. He has a PhD in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths University of London, London. Watson lives and works in London.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

Grant Watson’s research looks at how a contemporary reading of philosopher Michel Foucault’s “the care of the self” (1981) can go beyond questions of subjectivity to inform a wider economy of care, and how specific issues related to the LGBT+ community intersect with broader left and environmental politics. In the 1980s, Foucault put forward aesthetics as an ethics that could emerge from the gay liberation movement’s deconstruction of traditional morality, inventing new forms of life. Foucault’s care of the self (differing in ways from other conceptions, e.g. that of Audre Lorde) can be seen to orient toward seeking competitive advantages and likewise gay rights are potentially decoupled from broader social justice issues. This research project takes up two threads: proposing care of the self as transversal and relational; and LGBT+ rights activism as linked to a wider arena of left politics. It begins by looking at a history of intersections between experimental forms of life, homosexual emancipation, and revolutionary movements ranging from Bolshevik’s decriminalization of homosexuality to interactions between the Brazilian gay liberation and movement and Lula Da Silva’s People’s Party, to contemporary discussions of queer Marxism. Through a demographic that goes beyond Foucault’s masculinist and western-centric limits, this research attempts to link self-reflection with social justice issues and foregrounds aesthetics, life practice, and techniques of the self as potential paths to collective agency.