Looking after the Filipina caregiver: Ambiguity and unknowability across Jenifer K Wofford's Nurse Drawings

Jonathan Magat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay examines Jenifer K Wofford’s Nurse Drawings, a collection of line drawings that center the figure of the Filipina nurse and caregiver. Rather than simply verify the overlooked labor Filipina nurses and caregivers perform across the world, I ask how Wofford’s Nurse Drawings denaturalize the commonsense framing of Filipina nurses and caregivers as exceptional and industrious laboring subjects: healthy, impervious to disease, and ready-to-work. Staging an encounter with Filipina nursing figures that fall and float, sink and rise, wander and idle, Wofford’s Nurse Drawings simultaneously draws upon and upsets flattened and mass-marketed images of Filipina nurse-as-commodity, pushing the figure of the Filipina care worker, in Wofford’s words, “toward something deeper and stranger.” Departing from linear trajectories that conscript the Filipina nurse as inherently inclined to care and built to extend the life-times of others, Wofford invites spectators to sit with and look after the estranged and alienated Filipina nurse and caregiver, and as such, perhaps one who also requires aftercare, one who also falls ill, and one who can never be fully known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-92
Number of pages23
JournalWomen and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • ambiguity
  • care work
  • comfort
  • distance
  • Filipina
  • Jenifer K Wofford
  • nurses
  • visual art

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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