First developed during the hight of a global pandemic, the index offers itself as a resource, touchstone and impetus for an array of interdisciplinary endeavors of thinking, dreaming and (re-)inventing innovative modes and structures of caring for ourselves, each other and the environments of our shared habitats. Although the interruption of the pandemic had in some way brought with itself certain outward features of the time of convalescence – such as the opening of a gap and an interval – it had done so largely without providing the associated benefits of rest, rejuvenation and the time to drift that would enable an invigorated return to the world. Nevertheless, in our more than compromised experiences of temporal interruption and suspension, a sense of opportunity – both private and social, concrete and utopian – perhaps remained: the slim hope of a chance to return otherwise to a world momentarily put on hold. The index and its ongoing programme of artist commissions and public events - starting with Craft of Convalesence, an exhibition of new works by contemporary jeweller, sculptor and metal worker Rachael Colley and dancer Inari Hulkkonen at New Brewery Arts, Cirencester, 16 April - 18 June 2022 - seeks to retain something of that refocused sense of need and opportunity. At its core lies an intention to better address the vulnerability of beings and things by reinventing, as well as (re)claiming the lost art and social infrastructures of care, gentleness and convalescence.
The word convalescence has its roots in the Latin prefix com- ("with, together, jointly") and the verb "valescere" ("to grow strong"). "Valescere" is in turn related to the verb "valēre" ("to be strong or be well"), which is the root of "prevail," "valor," "value," and "valid". Following this etymological trajectory, the concept of convalescence begins to ring with a sense of a shared endeavor of jointly growing strong so as to make life worth living for all.
Manchester, April 2021
*updated April 2022
Laura Mansfield & Swen Steinhäuser