The cult of self-care is ever growing. Forest bathing, spa days for one, alone time, days free from digital technology (which must be announced pre- and post- break on social media—where else?): the desire to take considered care of ourselves with helpful actions, no matter how small, is a global phenomenon.
Self-care has been both mocked and embraced: brushed off by some as the narcissistic whims of the “Snowflake Generation” but recognized by many as a way of combating anxiety and increasing self-love in a world that can’t stop piling the pressure on. Many artists have found themselves interrogating notions of self-care, and its troubling appropriation by the wellness industry, often from an angle of both intrigue and cynicism.
The artists we speak to within this issue all explore these ideas through different avenues—whether looking at the addictive and eerie pull of solo bathroom time, exploring the powerful potential of self-preservation for marginalized and under-represented groups, or finding ways to protect the healing microbiomes that we can’t even see.
Our Encounters for this issue are with five stellar names, who stir up the status quo and explore the human experience through notions of gender, humour, disgust and physicality: Paul McCarthy, Wu Tsang, Anthea Hamilton, Mari Katayama and Jakob Lena Knebl.
We also feature Paper Galleries profiling the work of exuberant photographic duo Christto & Andrew—whose gross but luscious eyeball graces our front cover—and a trio of young female painters who explore the newfound freedoms of the female experience.
In our essays we examine the healing nature of making and engaging with art; question the exhausting possibility of maintaining a dual identity within URL and IRL realities; and delve into the mysterious, profound art of listening.
We also welcome Charlotte Jansen’s long-running art and motherhood column, Post-Partum Document, into print, and Federico Florian discusses the nature of love, in his ongoing column The Emo Diaries.
As the month goes on, expect some exciting announcements around Elephant magazine’s ten-year anniversary, including prints and t-shirts from one of our regular illustrators, the ingenious Inji Seo.