Curating Development

'Curating Development' works with migrants from the Philippines, largely female, doing care work in London and Hong Kong.

The project used 'museum as method' to explore the lives of migrant care workers in a participatory exhibition-making process. Working with objects, artworks and images that are not normally collected by museums, the Curating Development project explores how curatorial strategies can sustain migrants, advance public understanding of migration issues, and support NGO advocacy.

The project culminated in an exhibition that reversed the typical museum practice of displaying artefacts and artworks from existing collections. Instead, project participants shared their own store of social media images, sentimental objects carried with them, and gifts to be sent home to family. The participants made these into art, accompanied by video installations and drawings from collaborating fine artists, intended for public display as a single collection and archive - their own museum of migration.

With this approach, the project extended Andre Malraux' work on Museum without Walls/Musée Imaginaire (1965), taking the work beyond the museum's walls. The exhibition enters migrants’ private spaces, their dreams, their contributions to family and country. Rather than using the project archive as a store, their creating, curating and displaying from within it became a way to make hidden things public and foster debate.

The analysis evaluates the outcomes of this exhibition-making process for participants and collaborators. For them, and for the wider Filipino community, the project's curatorial methodology generated both new ways of understanding migration and potentials to bring their insights into the space of policymaking. In breaking the museum's walls, migrants were able to recognize and visualize their role in development in the Philippines, as well as their practices of investment and self-care.

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