The Comfort Zone Don’t gain, maintain.

The Comfort Zone Don’t gain, maintain.

  • Words Debika Ray
  • Photograph Jo Ann Callis: The Dish Trick, 1985. Courtesy of Rosegallery


In her 2019 book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, artist and writer Jenny Odell rails against the need for continual achievement. “In the context of health and ecology, things that grow unchecked are often considered parasitic or cancerous,” she writes. “Yet we inhabit a culture that privileges novelty and growth over the cyclical and the regenerative.” In Western societies today, Odell argues, people are too quick to believe that “new” is inherently good. 1    

There’s a gendered aspect to this dichotomy, reflected in how we see traditional female and male roles. The unglamorous practice of maintenance is the domain of women: Repetitive activities such as childrearing, housekeeping, cleaning and caregiving are all demeaned and underpaid, if paid at a...

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