PhD in Practice in Curating

PHD in Practice in Curating,
cooperation of ZHDK and University of Reading,
supported by swissuniversities

Programme director: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter

Programme in Department of Art at the University of Reading see here.

See all PhD Students below.

The Department of Art at the University of Reading in collaboration with the Postgraduate Programme in Curating is offering a new doctoral program for research in and as curatorial and/or artistic practice. Research students are enrolled at the University of Reading and the Postgraduate Programme in Curating is hosting a research group and offers opportunities for teaching and lecturing in Higher Education. The new PhD programme specializes in offering established curators, artists, art critics and designers from all disciplines the critical framework to focus on specific curatorial and cultural research topics in order to earn a Doctorate from the University of Reading through a combined theoretical and practical approach.

The Research Platform aims to provide a cooperative environment with a decidedly cross-disciplinary and international bent based on an association of two outstanding Programmes, the Department of Art at the University of Reading and the Postgraduate Program in Curating at the Zurich University for the Arts. The program responds to recent changes in the processes of the production of culture and a shift in the organisation of work processes throughout society. Within this shift, individual areas of action are coming together in new meta-levels, such as networks and knowledge transfer. The program aims to address and to question the significant changes affecting cultural production. It seeks to provide a productive environment for participants to discuss and develop their research, to critically reflect on the issues involved and to transform their own respective positions as producers, agents, designers, artists, archivists, and conveyors of those economies, and the politics, aesthetics and effects related to them. The program emphasises the reflection of curatorial and artistic methodologies and prospects of arts production, its practitioners, and its audiences.

The practice-based PhD program is designed for a three year duration. Participants are enrolled at the Department of Art at the University of Reading and they should be prepared to take part in seminars and communal meetings in Zurich and Reading. Over the course of the three years participants will develop and realise their projects supported by the academic and artistic team of co-participants and faculty.

The participants have access to the facilities and resources of the Department of Art at Reading and at the Postgraduate Program in Curating and to the institutions and people that form the broader and expanding Research Platform. Participants will be supported to pursue and develop dissertation work resulting in a curatorial/artistic project and a written component displaying a strong emphasis on methodological reflexivity and documentation. Moreover, participants are expected to take an active part in organizing the program (coordinating workshops, guest lectures, conferences, exhibitions, screenings, etc.). After successful completion and submission of the PhD, a Doctorate will be awarded by the University of Reading.

Participants will be able to engage with the ongoing international public programmes connected to the Postgraduate Programme in Curating Zurich, and with the independent OnCurating magazine.

Entry requirements

Requirements for admission to the PhD in Practice program are a degree (MA, MFA or diploma) from a recognized University or Academy, and the submission of a portfolio and/or a written project proposal (to be written in English). Applicants who are already engaged in an artistic or academic career are encouraged to apply. Applications will be made directly to the University of Reading.

Please contact the Department of Art for further information: Dorothee Richter <>

The main practical areas for curatorial approaches are:

• Exhibitions and exhibition architecture
• Design
• Production of books and catalogues
• Installations
• Digital projects
• Transdisciplinary practices
• Art Mediation
• Art in public spaces
• Art education projects/ communication projects
• Sound-specific projects
• Film/Video/Performance

Areas of Research

Transfer: contemporary discourses of exhibition practice / undertaking a critique of ideology through the medium of exhibition making / everyday culture to high culture/ media in relation to curating

Display: the practices and power relations within modes of display; modes and discourses of audience address

Context: Sites/ discourses of space and body politics / review of political missions/ (post)colonial perspectives / Re-interpretations of collection politics

Contemporary Practices: artistic and curatorial projects / paradigm shifts concerning the production, distribution, and reception of exhibitions, curating as cultural practice, performative curating

Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter is Director of the Postgraduate Programme in Curating, ZhdK and Profossor in Contemporary Curating at the University of Reading.

The Research Platform currently supports/ has supported doctoral projects by

Allan Siegel, Avi Feldman, Elke Krasny, Katerina Valdivia Bruch, Omar Kholeif, Sarah-Luise Spiess, Antonio Cataldo, Maayan Sheleff, Isabella Burr-Evans, Hadas Kedar, Katalin Erdödi, Gilly Karjevsky, Lalita Salander, Ronald Kolb, Sascia Bailer



Dr Omar Kholeif
Towards a New Language. Re-Defining the Frameworks of Regionally Focused Curating of the Arab World
Omar Kholeif was Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London. Recent curatorial projects include curating the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Focus: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean at the Armory Show, New York, and the 2015 Abraaj Group Art Prize, Art Dubai. Recent publications include, You Are Here: Art After the Internet (2014), Jeddah Childhood Circa 1994 (2014), and Moving Image (2015). He is now senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland

Univ.-Prof. Mag. PhD Elke Krasny
Suzanne Lacy’s International Dinner Party in feminist curatorial thought
Elke Krasny is professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She co-edited the 2013 volume Women’s:Museum. Curatorial Politics in Feminism, Education, History, and Art.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland

Dr Allan Siegel
“Rubbing Along” Food, politics and public space
Allan Siegel is a filmmaker, visual artist and teacher. He was one of the founding members of the documentary film collective Newsreel and later a co-director of Third World Newsreel. His films have been presented at major international festivals and on public television throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland

Dr Avi Feldman
After the Law: Towards Judicial-Visual Activism
Offering a new critical approach and methodology to dealing with existing and imagined relations between law and art, Feldman’s research analyses curatorial and artistic projects by revealing overlooked legal dimensions embedded within them. It introduces legal theory and scholarship in relation to visual art works in order to expand and foster new paths for both judicial and visual activism. Based on the reassessment of artistic and curatorial capabilities and encounters in time of globalization, Feldman’s dissertation is concerned with broadening our perception of the role of art and legal practitioners with regard to justice.

Avi Feldman (Born in Montréal, Canada) is based in Tel Aviv, Berlin, and Dresden, where he works as a curator and writer. Feldman is the curator in-residence at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38, NYC (2018). Recently, Feldman curated the exhibitions ‘Motions for the Agenda’ (May-June, 2017) at Artport, Tel-Aviv, and ‘Playing Hide and Law’ (March-May, 2017) at tranzit, Bratislava. Also in 2017, Feldman curated the NeuLicht Festival for video art by Omanut at Kunsthaus Zurich and KOSMOS Kulturhaus, Zurich. Feldman co-edited the publication ‘Set in Motion’ (January, 2017) on museums, dance and public space. It followed an exhibition by the same title co-curated for the Petach Tikva Museum of Art in Israel, and editing of the publication Extremum – Reflections on the Work of Yasmeen Godder (November, 2014).
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland



Katerina Valdivia Bruch
Contacta: Participatory Art, Politics and Social Change

This dissertation investigates the emergence of relational and “non-objectual”* arts practices in Peru during Juan Velasco Alvarado’s Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas (Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces, 1968-1980), the only leftist-oriented military administration in South America at that time. The research will focus on the interplay between art and politics. For instance, how the government hired artists to promote its agenda, but also how these artistic practices (some of them supported by the government) fostered art in the public space, the democratisation of culture and social change. The case study will be about the total art festival Contacta held in 1971, 1972 and 1979. This survey connects the emergence of Peruvian non-objectual art with other Latin American artistic practices of that time, in order to articulate a Latin American perspective, apart from U.S.-European conceptualism.
* “Non-objectual” is the way Peruvian art critic Juan Acha refered to ephemeral and immaterial art practices in Latin America. Broadly, the term defines conceptualist art practices in Latin America, in order to differentiate them from mainstream U.S.-European conceptualism.

Katerina Valdivia Bruch is an independent curator and arts writer based in Berlin. Besides her work as a curator, she contributes essays, interviews and articles to art publications and magazines.
www.artatak.netSupervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Susanne Clausen


Sarah Spies
Choreographies of the Curatorial: Performative futures and new mythologies for dance in and beyond the museum

The research project examines the emergence and recurrent arc of curatorial frameworks that have prioritised and mined choreographic practice as curatorial content and research since the early 20st Century and again in the early 21st Century. The interdisciplinary pre-curatorial conditions of the Judson Church Collective and FLUXUS are aligned as precursors with more critically performative potential for future representational mythologies than the current trajectory of staging re-performed choreographic canon in the museum since the early 1990’s. Performativity is constructed as a central methodological framework and is revised to produce an alternative intersectional feminist lineage of performance and choreographic practice within the paradigm of art.

Sarah Spies is a choreographer, performance curator and senior lecturer in contemporary dance and performance art. She works with Manchester-based artists-led curatorial collective Accumulations ( on collaborative curatorial practice, DIY strategies for curating ephemeral and process-orientated arts practice and research-based public programmes. She has created performative work within international gallery settings and has published on time-based performance within curatorial settings. She is part of ICI (Independent Curators International) and the international exchange programme MAHALA/Temporary Occupations and AFiRIperFOMA Biennial.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Susanne Clausen

Maayan Sheleff
Preaching to the Choir: The Voice in a Collective and the Politics of Participation

The research is seeking to explore the use of the performative human voice in participatory curatorial and artistic practices that aspire to be political. These practices relate to, or were affected by, protest movements and demonstrations in Europe and in the Middle East from the turn of the 21st century. Looking at the political potential of the voice, as well as exploring what makes a curatorial or an artistic project political, the research aims to examine how these practices engage with the ever growing extremism of the last decade, which threatens freedom of speech or the right to protest, and attempts to silence alternative voices. As these projects shift between the political and social sphere and art spaces, the research looks into both the potential power as well as the challenges of participation, and asks how curatorial practice can invite new forms of cross-disciplinary solidarity. Through interviews, workshops, performances, choirs, marches and assemblies, the research will attempt to engage the same methods that it explores in order to encourage unpredictable collaborations, make accessible and further disseminate what it finds using both online and real public space presence.

Maayan Sheleff is an independent curator based in Tel Aviv, as well as the artistic advisor of The Art Cube Artists’ Studios in Jerusalem and the founder and curator of its international residency program, “LowRes Jerusalem”. Her projects take a reflexive approach towards participation and activism. She is currently studying for a Practice-Based PHD at the Curatorial platform, the University of Reading (UK) and ZHDK (CH), exploring political choirs, or the use of the collective human voice in participatory practices. Some of her recent projects include “The Infiltrators”, exhibition of participatory projects with African Asylum seekers, at Artport Gallery, Tel Aviv ( 2014), “Preaching to the Choir” at Herzlyia Museum in Israel (2015), and “50 years”, an activist project marking 50 year of Israeli occupation with Bet’selem human reights organization. She is currently working on an exhibition at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, Holand, realted to her PHD research. She teaches in various academic institutions and her latest publication was Fear and Love in Graz, (in:) Empty Stages, Crowded Flats. Performativity as Curatorial Strategy, performing urgency #4, Editors Florian Malzacher and Janna Warsza.

Find a publication list of Maayan Sheleff here.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Susanne Clausen

Antonio Cataldo
The Portable, the Dissolvable, the Transmissible: migratory practices of exposition
This research project looks into the moment of the 1970s, pivotal within the visual arts practices for shifting meaning and substance of the artwork in connection to a changing role of labour within and beyond Western societies in their new imperial and capitalist ambitions. Case studying a number of exhibitions in Scandinavia and elsewhere which challenged methodologies of display, artmaking and precarious living conditions, these expositions questioned how and why work as a concept enters the exhibition as a form.

Antonio Cataldo is a writer and a curator and currently employed working as a curator at the Office for Contemporary Art in Norway.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Susanne Clausen

Katalin Erdödi
“Something Always Blooms” – Curatorial strategies and knowledge production in and about post-socialist rural spaces
Katalin Erdödi works as an independent curator in the fields of contemporary art and performance, with a focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration, politically engaged artistic and curatorial strategies, and art in public space, understood in the broadest sense as social, architectural, and discursive space. Central to her practice is an experimentation with different formats, from performance through exhibition-making to site-specific and process-oriented projects, with an interest in art as social practice and a tool for knowledge production. She is based in Vienna and works between Austria and Hungary.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland

Hadas Kedar
Remote Art: De-Colonized and De-Imperialized Patterns of Cultural Imaginaries
The research conducts a systematic investigation and a classification of art that is distinctive of remote areas. It commences with an illustration of the unique features of remote places, vis-a-vis the physical and metaphysical traits of these spaces, and continues with a survey into the visual culture that regions far from populated centers have cultivated. By reaching back to the prehistoric and historical art that has developed in deserts, steppes and velds, the research observes patterns of colonization and their government on cultural imaginary. These examinations assist the research to re-insert local indigenous arts and crafts intp the context of a global art canon.
An awareness to a series of colonial pasts and of hegemonic presents, tie together art institutions that are separated by vast distances. The Deluzian concepts of the ‘rhizome’, ‘nomadism’ and ‘smooth space’ serve as the key to understand a wave of post-institutional art stemming from remote areas. The consideration of this remote, post-institutional art paves the way to an understanding of the capacity that art institutions located outside populated areas hold and their ability to produce and exhibit a new genre of art.
An analysis of three contemporary and one historical remote art institution – their curatorial agenda, their outreach programs, their cultural agents – assists to articulate the ethos of art institutions, the uniqueness of creative agents situated in remote areas, and aids to distinguish between the similarities of Remote Art and Land Art.
An agenda for the production and exhibition of art intended for remote areas is based on the knowledge produced in the theoretical section that is ‘fed’ into a crafted, hybrid structure, based on two ‘creatures’ that ‘grow’ in ‘smooth spaces’. The first is the phantasmagorical phenomenon of the Fata Morgana (mirage). Images that appear on the horizon and are a result of the contrast in temperatures between ground and air. They appear due to an assortment of mineral particles that float in the air and provide the ‘screen’ on which they appear. This phenomenon is studied in this research via its ability to cultivate moving images which rely on the precise balance of the surrounding ecosystem. The second ‘being’ that the practical section is based on is the Tumbleweed. This plant is endemic to these areas and ‘wanders’ the land due to the fact that it disconnects from its roots and travels with the wind.
These two ‘beings’ combined – the Fata Morgana and the Tumbleweed – serve as the model for a Remote Art Institution. They tread the sandy and icy deserts and steppes, and due to their “flickering” existence and built-in mobility systems they survive in these areas with disparate temperatures.

Hadas Kedar is an artist and curator and the founder of Arad Contemporary Art Centre and Arad Art and Architecture Residency Program.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland

Isabella Burr-Evans
Visual and creative political art activism in times of change. The curator and capturing the moment
Isabella Burr-Evans is a Berlin-based cultural producer and curator. Having obtained a BA Fine Art (2005, London Metropolitan University) and MA Museum and Gallery Management (2007, London City University) in London, she organised and curated exhibitions, which in the past have focused on Audiovisual art and site-specific Art installations as well as political campaigns and activism. Since completing her MA African studies (2014, Humboldt University of Berlin ) her focus has shifted towards political art activism, which is produced mainly during political uprisings (Arab Spring, Gezi Park, etc.), are based in the public environment and produced for the public. This feeds directly into her PhD in Practice in curating, a cooperation of ZHDK, Zurich and the University of Reading (UK), of which she has been a PhD candidate since 2016. As part of this programme her dissertation examines the challenges curators face in presenting ephemeral and fast-changing art without taking it out of its original location and purpose or exotising it in the process by creating new environments and contexts.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowland

Ronald Kolb

Being in the Global World (tentative)
The PhD project deals with curatorial practices and community-based art on a global context with a focus on techniques and methods of governance.
The thesis will take into account general and generalising concepts of globalism, and scrutinizes different strategies of global constructions in contemporary art institutions, curatorial practices outside of institutions and group-based art productions of the backdrop of the idea of post-national culture. Canonical exhibitions and large-scale events (Biennales) with an attempt to relate to a global sphere and art institutions working on a global scale or with a global concept in mind, but also community-based art networks and cultural producers on a post-national level function as research material.
The theoretical part of the research will outline critical cultural theory of governance, and here especially postcolonial theory in regards to curatorial practice: How can postcolonial theory shape / renew exhibitionary formats? What can be displayed / represented within an exhibition format, what knowledge can and cannot be produced with exhibitions?
The practical part works on the interview project “CURATING – Explored with a Camera. A Research-Based Digital Platform on Curatorial Practice.«, headed by Dorothee Richter. The body of 70+ interviews with international curators will be evaluated in terms of postcolonial, global and geopolitical dimensions of curatorial practice through the interview corpus with an output as an artistic/curatorial exploration by means of relating the statements in a filmic essay form. The research result aims to find answers to curatorial knowledge formation in postnational settings of culture and art.

Working as a designer (, teacher, and film-maker in Stuttgart and Zurich. He studied Visual Communications (MA) at Merz Akademie, University of Applied Arts, Design and Media, Stuttgart, Germany and runs a design and research studio with an emphasis on publications and web design i.e. for Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg, ifa (Institut for Foreign Affairs, Germany), Donaueschinger Musiktage, Badischer Kunstverein, ZKM, and so forth. He was an Associate Professor at Merz Akademie, University of Applied Arts, Design and Media from 2009–2015 and is now Scientific Researcher at the Postgraduate Programme in Curating, ZHdK. He is Co-Publisher of the web journal and honorary vice chairman of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart since 2014.
His PHD project is a research on concepts of globalism in cultural and curatorial practices with a focus on prototyping global communities.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Dr. Sarah Owens

Lalita Radavić
Based in? Questioning the role of the artist residency in proliferating the neo-liberal agenda of the art system in the 21st Century
Lalita Radavić is a New York based independent curator, educator, and artist. Her doctoral research specifically focuses on questioning the role the artist residency plays in proliferating the neo-liberal agenda of the art system in the 21st Century towards a cultural analysis of the art residency field. In order to produce a comprehensive cultural analysis of the artist residency field this research will focus on uncovering the implicit and explicit forms of inclusion and exclusion of the art system at large and where the sub-field of the artist residency falls within this dynamic. The theoretical component of the dissertation will thus create a framework to assess the artist residency field of the 21st century; which actors and institutions have agency within this subfield and how the artist residency contributes to the proliferation of power within the greater super-structure.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter

Sascia Bailer
Radical Relations: Curatorial Strategies for Social Justice
In light of increasing inequality, neoliberal urbanization, migration, and rising nationalism, art carries the potential to function as a “counterpractice“ (Deutsche,1996) — but such critical artistic and curatorial practices are often isolated, dispersed, occurring off the radar of the art world. In this momentum, curating as a critical spatial practice establishes relationships between dispersed agents and diverse “counterpractices”; it can arguabley function as a highly potent form to formulate demands, visibilize urgencies and to foster transparency and coherence in demanding social justice. My PhD research will investigate how curating can function as a practice of care, and how it produces strategies to address issues of social justice in response to territorial, political and cultural urgencies. I will specifically look at curatorial networks with a social justice agenda as a manifestation of a “radical relational practice” (Krasny, 2015), focusing on their structure, socio-geographic context and transformative propositions. I intend to develop a curatorial platform that fosters visibility and connectivity amongst relevant, critical agents of care.

Sascia Bailer is an interdisciplinary researcher, curator and urbanist; she has been appointed the position as Artistic Director of M.1 Hohenlockstedt by the Arthur-Boskamp-Stiftung for the upcoming curatorial cycle (2019-2020).
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Dr. João Florêncio (Department Art History and Visual Culture, University of Exeter)