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Dr Erika Balsom

Dr Erika Balsom


Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

Tel +44 (0) 207 848 7559
Film Studies Department
King's College London
Norfolk Building
Strand Campus




  • PhD in Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
  • MA in Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • BA Hons in Cinema Studies, University of Toronto

Before joining the department at King’s in 2013, Erika Balsom held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley (2010-2011) and was assistant professor of film studies at Carleton University, Ottawa (2011-2013).

Research Interests
  • Moving image installation
  • Experimental cinema
  • History of film theory
  • Theories of digital culture
  • Documentary

Erika Balsom’s most recent book After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation (Columbia University Press in 2017) explores how artists and filmmakers have conceived of and confronted the reproducibility of film and video. For some, the copy is a utopian promise to be exploited; for others, it is a dangerous threat to be suppressed. After Uniqueness explores this ambivalence of the copy and the accompanying issues of access, authenticity, and rarity through a comparative analysis of selected distribution models (such as the limited edition, digital bootlegging, and the 8mm reduction print) and case studies of key works that take up questions of image circulation.

More broadly, Erika’s research interests include experimental documentary, the intersections of cinema and art, and histories of technological change. She is the co-editor of Documentary Across Disciplines (MIT Press, 2016), an anthology bringing together interventions at the vanguard of conceptualizing what documentary is, means, and can do. Exploring the many lives of documentary images, texts, and sounds – from the imperialist management of human life to redemptive encounters with the fragility of our world, from professional and disciplinary contexts to personal confrontations with mortality and alterity – this collection seeks to provide a capacious and interdisciplinary account of the vital field of practice that is documentary.

Her 2013 monograph, Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art, confronts the changing contours of what we call “cinema” after digitization through an examination of uses of the moving image and references to film history in art since 1990. 

In addition to her academic scholarship, Erika writes criticism on art and film that appears regularly in publications such as Artforum and Sight and Sound. She has contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues, including recent texts on Candice Breitz, Amar Kanwar, Sarah Sze, and the grid in digital art.

Erika Balsom welcomes PhD theses on any topics related to her research, including avant-garde film, moving image installation, film theory, new media, and experimental documentary.

For more details, please see her full research profile.

Selected Publications
  • An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea (New Plymouth, New Zealand: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, 2018) 
  • After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017). 
  • “Instant Failure: Polaroid’s Polavision, 1977–80,” Grey Room 66 (Winter 2017), 6–31. Winner of the Katherine Singer Kovacs essay award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. 
  • Documentary Across Disciplines, co-edited with Hila Peleg. (Cambridge and Berlin: MIT Press and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2016). 

For a complete list of publications, please see Erika's full research profile.


Erika Balsom has taught modules on moving image art, digital cinema, film theory, contemporary art, and documentary cinema.

In Autumn 2017, she will teach the MA module The Moving Image in Art and the third-year module Documentary in the Twenty-First Century. In Spring 2018, she will convene the first-year module Critical Debates in Film Studies.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Erika Balsom has lectured widely, including recent invited talks at the Hasselblad Award symposium (Gothenburg), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), Whitechapel Gallery (London), Goethe Universität (Frankfurt), and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh). 

In Summer 2017, she was the film curator in residence at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand. In Spring 2014, she was a writer in residence at Fogo Island Arts. From 2012–15 she was co-chair of ExFM, the experimental film and media scholarly interest group at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

She is currently a trustee at LUX, a member of the ICA Independent Film Council, and a member of the collective The Machine That Kills Bad People, which programs a bimonthly screening at the ICA.

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