May 9 –
June 6, 2021
Contact Traces
Curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021

Featuring works by Derya Akay, Lenka Clayton, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ilana Harris-Babou, and Jenny Kendler

Click here to schedule an appointment to view the exhibition.

Care is difficult to define. Acts of caring for the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of ourselves and others can be variably contradictory: quotidian, yet revolutionary; selfish, yet virtuous; obligatory, yet emancipatory. In this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for social and racial justice, and the ongoing climate crisis have brought care’s urgency and significance to light. As a result, inevitable questions have surfaced: Is acknowledging our interdependence sufficient? Do the blurred lines of reciprocity offer something more? Contact Traces emerges from a year wherein support systems have failed or fallen horribly short of expectations. In the wake of these failures, caregiving is exposed as a vital web of interrelations on which individual and collective survival depend.

The artists in Contact Traces question assumptions of care as an act of benevolence. Their works suggest that individuals can disrupt the systems that do not recognize the value or labor of uncompensated care by spotlighting the process of caregiving and its messy aftermath. As we work toward a post-pandemic world, Contact Traces cries out against a “return to normal,” suggesting that a society in which care is fully recognized could be more just and sustainable.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is available for pre-order and to download as a PDF here. The catalogue features original essays by members of the curatorial cohort and guest contributor Jen Delos Reyes, interviews with Ilana Harris-Babou and Jenny Kendler, images of the featured artworks, and a map of care-based resources and organizations around the Bay Area.

A virtual public program on Care Practices will take place on May 13 at 5pm PST. Panelists include Architectural historian, curator, and designer Jia Gu, author and teacher Rebekah Taussig, and the co-directors of CARE SYLLABUS, Victoria Papa, Levi Prombaum, and Laura Thompson.

Contact Traces is curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021: Leandra Burnett, Katherine Jemima Hamilton, Shaelyn Hanes, Youyou Ma, and Emily Markert.

Click on this link to listen to a guided tour by the curators, and follow this link to the exhibition handout.

Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Detox (Braddock U.P.M.C.), 2011, still from video (color, sound), 22:24 min. Copyright LaToya Ruby Frazier, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Detox (Braddock U.P.M.C.), 2011, still from video (color, sound), 22:24 min. Copyright LaToya Ruby Frazier, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Derya Akay, Flowers and Water, 2021, water pump, air pots, flowers, fruit, paper cups, recycled paper bags, water jugs, and crates, tap water, coffee, and tea, courtesy of Unit 17, Vancouver, and Ilana Harris-Babou, Decision Fatigue, 2020, HD video and installation with sculptures made of resin, ceramic, liquid plastic, sand, glass bottles, pigment, cheese balls, Cheetos, and car air-freshener, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Derya Akay, Flowers and Water, 2021, water pump, air pots, flowers, fruit, paper cups, recycled paper bags, water jugs, and crates, tap water, coffee, and tea, courtesy of Unit 17, Vancouver, and Ilana Harris-Babou, Decision Fatigue, 2020, HD video and installation with sculptures made of resin, ceramic, liquid plastic, sand, glass bottles, pigment, cheese balls, Cheetos, and car air-freshener, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Lenka Clayton, 63 Objects Taken from my Son
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Lenka Clayton, 63 Objects Taken from my Son's Mouth, 2013, printed 2021, archival inkjet print, courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, and 63 Objects Taken from my Son’s Mouth, 2014, perfect-bound book, edition 123 of 250, private collection. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Jenny Kendler, Underground Library, 2017–ongoing, biocharred books on climate change and biochar kilns, 33.5 x 25.5 x 25.5 in, courtesy of the artist, DOER Marine, and Natural Discourse; Jenny Kendler, A selection of 48 volumes from the artist’s collection of books on climate change, 2017, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist; and Facing Climate Change Together, 2008, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Jenny Kendler, Underground Library, 2017–ongoing, biocharred books on climate change and biochar kilns, 33.5 x 25.5 x 25.5 in, courtesy of the artist, DOER Marine, and Natural Discourse; Jenny Kendler, A selection of 48 volumes from the artist’s collection of books on climate change, 2017, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist; and Facing Climate Change Together, 2008, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Detox (Braddock U.P.M.C.), 2011, still from video (color, sound), 22:24 min. Copyright LaToya Ruby Frazier, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; Lenka Clayton, 63 Objects Taken from my Son
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Detox (Braddock U.P.M.C.), 2011, still from video (color, sound), 22:24 min. Copyright LaToya Ruby Frazier, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; Lenka Clayton, 63 Objects Taken from my Son's Mouth, 2013, printed 2021, photograph, 20” x 15”, courtesy of the artist; and 63 Objects Taken from my Son’s Mouth, 2014, perfect-bound book, edition 123 of 250, private collection. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Derya Akay, Flowers and Water, 2021. Water pump, air pots, flowers, fruit, paper cups, recycled paper bags, water jugs, and crates, tap water, coffee, and tea. Courtesy of Unit 17, Vancouver. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Derya Akay, Flowers and Water, 2021. Water pump, air pots, flowers, fruit, paper cups, recycled paper bags, water jugs, and crates, tap water, coffee, and tea. Courtesy of Unit 17, Vancouver. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Derya Akay, Flowers and Water, 2021. Water pump, air pots, flowers, fruit, paper cups, recycled paper bags, water jugs, and crates, tap water, coffee, and tea. Courtesy of Unit 17, Vancouver. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Derya Akay, Flowers and Water, 2021. Water pump, air pots, flowers, fruit, paper cups, recycled paper bags, water jugs, and crates, tap water, coffee, and tea. Courtesy of Unit 17, Vancouver. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation detail, Ilana Harris-Babou, Decision Fatigue, 2020. HD video and installation with sculptures made of resin, ceramic, liquid plastic, sand, glass bottles, pigment, cheese balls, Cheetos, and car air-freshener. Courtesy of the artist. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation detail, Ilana Harris-Babou, Decision Fatigue, 2020. HD video and installation with sculptures made of resin, ceramic, liquid plastic, sand, glass bottles, pigment, cheese balls, Cheetos, and car air-freshener. Courtesy of the artist. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation detail, Jenny Kendler, Underground Library. 2017–ongoing. Biocharred books on climate change. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Natural Discourse. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation detail, Jenny Kendler, Underground Library. 2017–ongoing. Biocharred books on climate change. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Natural Discourse. Installation view in Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Jenny Kendler, A selection of 48 volumes from the artist’s collection of books on climate change, 2017, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist, and Facing Climate Change Together, 2008, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.
Installation image, Contact Traces curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2021 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, with Jenny Kendler, A selection of 48 volumes from the artist’s collection of books on climate change, 2017, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist, and Facing Climate Change Together, 2008, printed in 2021, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart Photography.