Fitter, Happier, More Productive

curated by Lexington Davis

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Kate Cooper, Patricia Domínguez, Ilana Harris-Babou, Maryam Jafri, Shana Moulton & Nick Hallett

Barre classes. Juice cleanses. Meditation apps. Ten-step skincare routines. Athleisure. Mindfulness training. Collagen peptides. Jade rolling. The "self-care" industry ceaselessly introduces trends aimed at improving physical and mental wellbeing, at least for those who can afford the hefty price tag. Such commodities and services are sold as a pathway to personal optimization, evading the question: for what purpose and whose benefit?

Fitter, Happier, More Productive brings together six artists whose work explores the toxic underbelly of capitalist wellness culture. The exhibition problematizes capitalism's framing of wellness as a personal quest for self-improvement rather than a collective project requiring societal investment and systemic change. Instead of offering opportunities for reflection and renewal, wellness culture conditions us to see life as another mode of work, and work as the defining feature of life. By marketing self-care as an individualistic endeavor, capitalism gaslights the public into believing that issues created by corporate greed and a gutted welfare state might be solved by an açaí bowl, a yoga retreat, or twenty-five units of Botox.

In contrast, the exhibition's artists propose understandings of wellbeing that confront socio-political histories, environmental degradation, and structural inequalities. By examining the social, political, and psychological effects of wellness culture, the exhibition reveals the need for new practices of wellbeing inspired by activists like the Combahee River Collective and Audre Lorde, who saw self-care as a radical "act of political warfare." Through engagement with overlooked histories and social conditions, Fitter, Happier, More Productive highlights how wellness practices might be transformed from capitalist labor into tools of resistance.
Lexington Davis is an AHRC-funded PhD candidate at the University of St. Andrews, where her research explores feminist art and domestic labor politics. She has previously held curatorial positions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, the Paul Mellon Centre, and the Netherlands Institute in Athens.

Installation Images

apexart’s program supporters past and present include the National Endowment for the Arts, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, The Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Spencer Brownstone, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, Epstein Teicher Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, The Puffin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and administered by LMCC, funds from NYSCA Electronic Media/Film in Partnership with Wave Farm: Media Arts Assistance Fund, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.