My work focuses on the intersection of contemporary art and various forms of state violence including socially detrimental urban overdevelopment and militarized force. I research how art, artists, architects, and urban planners have been implicated in the exercise of hard and soft state power, ‘inadmissible heritage’ in public collections, and artist monitoring by the state. Conversely, I explore visual histories of interracial solidarity and work to develop revisionist curatorial formats that reinterpret the art of the past.
My doctoral research combined contemporary art history and theory with security, intelligence, and media studies to investigate officially commissioned art during the Irish ‘Troubles’ and the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict. My monograph based on this study 'The Deployment of Art' will be published by Routledge in 2023.
I was Exhibitions Curator at the Hayward Gallery (1999-2007), Senior Curator at Modern Art Oxford (2009-10), and Deputy Head of the Curating Contemporary Art Department, Royal College of Art (2007-2014). Recent projects include 'The Surface of the World: Architecture and the Moving Image' (Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila, Philippines, 2014-17); 'Spectres of Modernism: Artists Against Overdevelopment' (Bowater House/Raven Row, London 2017-18) and 'Open Plan: Communities in Contemporary Art' (South London Gallery, 2022) (co-edited with Carey Robinson). I have worked in a freelance and associate capacity with diverse visual arts organisations including Tate; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; South London Gallery and the Alytus Biennale (Lithuania).
Research interests and PhD supervision
My doctoral research combined contemporary art history and theory with security, intelligence, and media studies to investigate officially commissioned art during the Irish ‘Troubles’ and the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict. The monograph based on this work appears in 2023 (Routledge) addressed to their art, heritage, intelligence, social movement, and media studies lists. This feeds directly into the design of my next research project which explores interracial solidarity tactics and visual activism linking Northern Ireland and Black America during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. I will analyze contemporary art, political film, murals, and embodied protest actions to investigate how activists in Northern Ireland looked to the visual imagery of Black America as the basis for resistance and solidarity and ask if, and how that ‘look’ was returned. Planned research outputs for that project include a second monograph which will have wide appeal given current interest in interracial solidarity and anti-Imperialist struggle.
I would welcome research students with interdisciplinary projects that address the intersections of contemporary art and curating, broadly defined, with one or more of these fields:
- Militarised conflict (especially insurgency and counterinsurgency after 1945)
- Political iconography
- Built environment
- Interracial visual solidarity tactics
- State monitoring of artists
- ‘The Deployment of Art: The Imperial War Museum’s Artistic Records Committee 1968-1982' (Abingdon: Routledge) (under contract: 2023) (120,000 WORDS; 150 ILLUSTRATIONS)
- 'Open Plan: Communities in Contemporary Art' (co-edited with Carey Robinson)(London: South London Gallery, 2022) (in press) (110 pages)
- 'Ufuoma Essi: From Where We Land' (co-edited with Ufuoma Essi) (London: South London Gallery, 2022) (in press) (46 pages)
- 'The Surface of the World: Modern Architecture and the Moving Image' (Manila: Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, 2017) (126 pages)
- 'Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown: The Age of Anti Ageing' (London: Vargas Publishing, 2014) (40 pages)
I have extensive experience teaching in person and online at undergraduate, graduate, and MPhil/PhD levels. This falls into two broad areas:
Practice-based teaching including: Managing exhibition projects and convening and co-convening curatorial practice workshops in partnership with external organisations including MCAD, Manila; Gwanju Biennale (with Okwui Enwezor); California College of the Arts; De La Salle College of the Arts, Singapore; Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing.
Theory and history teaching covering the areas of: Curatorial Strategies; Art, Coloniality; Spatial Practices; Writing for Curators; Audiences; Art and Globalisation; Feminism and the Artist’s Body; Art from Latin America; Art and Conflict; Culture Wars and Contested Heritage.
Expertise and public engagement
With public engagement at the heart of my curatorial practice and academic research concerns I have curated and organised numerous art exhibitions from critically acclaimed block busters to experimental displays in artist-run spaces. I have commissioned art for the public domain and managed complex community-orientated projects with multiple stakeholders. My interviews and reviews have been published widely including in La Vanguardia de Barcelona, The Art Newspaper, and artnet.com. I have appeared on British, Spanish, and French national and local tv and radio, including as a guest on BBC Start the Week and Newsnight talking about my curatorial work.
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