Ongoing PhD projects:

 

Isabel de Sena
WE WILL HAVE BEEN: A Case for Curating in the SF Mode

The widespread sense of perplexity today towards accelerating developments in science and technology is proving critical in that it handicaps our resilience and will to act in attending to the challenges such developments present, most notably regarding the environmental crisis and the dawn of AI. This PhD aims to investigate through practice-based research how the curatorial can be rethought as a form of science fiction/speculative fabulation (Donna Haraway) that can re-empower the broad public to approach imminent futures with greater tenure and sensibility.

The exhibition that is the final outcome of this PhD will be set in the future (five generations from now, in 2120) and present items collected from the perspective of a speculative future collector (spanning the fields of art, science and technology). Aiming to capitalize on the political potential of SF through its assertion in the present of “a people to come” (Gilles Deleuze), the incentive for making tangible the future memory of history is not only to tell of impending futures, but especially of “still possible pasts [and] presents” (Haraway). Urging visitors to imagine what we will have been, the exhibition adopts the future perfect, which Rosi Braidotti describes as “the tense that best expresses the power of the imagination … the tense of a virtual sense of potential”.  The exhibition will be curated from an archive, which will be built during the first phase of this project through a decentralized digital platform onto which a diverse collective (artists, scholars, scientists et al.) can contribute entries for what they consider will be of collectible value in 2120. The input process will not consist of isolated instances but rather occur through the formation of a digital commons, by which contributors revise/expand on their entries in a reiterative process, revising their contributions in response to other entries as the archive grows. Beyond the level of content, their input should extend also to the organisational principles that shape the archive and the digital infrastructure through which items are amassed and given meaning, for instance hypermedia.

My motivation is thereby not only that relinquishing a certain degree of authorship in creating the archive by favouring plurivocality will strengthen the exhibition's potential to resonate with a variety of sentiments about what "we will have been" and which types of futures are thinkable today. More importantly, it feeds into my project's central aim of nurturing a collective sense of agency in conceiving the future, in that the process of building the archive through the digital commons will itself cultivate "potent collectivities" (Jeremy Gilbert). Importantly, while the commons is currently a topic of growing interest among scholars and artists, there exists little thought on feminist approaches to it. Building forth on my research for the 'OPEN SCORES' exhibition led by the “Creating Commons” research group at ZHdK, I seek with this project to rethink the commons through a feminist lens, for instance by considering Ursula Le Guin’s 'The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction' (positing that both fiction and technology are founded on sustaining relational webs), Donna Haraway’s concept of “string figures” (proposing that distributed forms of access to and dissemination of knowledge can give rise to collective agency), and Karen Barad’s diffractive methodology (which foregrounds the constant transformation of knowledge – regarding both the objects of enquiry and the apparatus [resources, discourses] through which they are viewed).
Isabel de Sena is a Berlin-based independent curator with an MA in Art History (cum laude, Leiden University, the Netherlands, 2015) and since September 2019 a PhD candidate in Curatorial Practice (Reading University & Zurich University of the Arts). Through a strongly transdisciplinary practice, she draws from feminist theory and New Materialism to develop speculative approaches to current developments in science and technology, particularly in view of nurturing more empowered attitudes towards the future through the (digital) commons.

 

Tanya Abraham
Space, Art, and Language: Interpellation and Conversation. Perception and Impact on Audiences.

The PhD study concerns with space, art, and language - conversation and Interpellation. The marrying of these to create an impact on audiences, what they speak in unison, and the role they play in the creation and impact of exhibitions, is in focus. As a curator, she has been greatly interested in the amalgamation of these; their importance in her curatorial practice is an integral part of her study.The psychological possibilities that rest in the power of such Interpellation has always interested her, gthrough her research she aims to delve deeper into the subject and decipher the strength of art, space, and language in an exhibition.
Tanya Abraham is the curator and creative director of Kashi Art Gallery, a patron of the Kochi Muziris Biennale. She has curated a number of collateral exhibitions for the Biennale; her work primary concerns social impact, and cultural understanding. She is the founder of The Art Outreach Society, a not-for-profit organisation that works in the field of art education and art for health amongst the marginalised. She is also a writer and the author of two books. She is currently also working as a curator for museums under the government of Kerala, India, where she lives.

Tanya is the recipient of four awards for her work in the field of art.

 

Lorenzo Morganti
Experience, interaction, plans and projections in curacy and exhibition design

Over the last decades the relationship between museums and commercial exhibitions has become more and more important and is today offering an even more interesting “device for a broader historical argument”. Both public and commercial institutions, in fact, are actively “involved in the practice of ‘showing and telling’ […], exhibiting artefacts and/or persons in a manner calculated to embody and communicate specific cultural meanings and values”. Storytelling, that always played a key role in curacy , is now becoming crucial to more and more sectors of our society, pervading many disciplines from fashion to product design and redefining the apparently far areas of marketing and business too . At the same time sensorial experience and interaction (not only and not mainly digital) also seem to have been rediscovered and to be the most common ways through which these new stories are told , even if interaction always held a privileged role in curating (at least since the early experiences of the International Avant-Gardes and since the very birth of modern exhibition design) and even if experience “is just as much the rediscovery of time” , at the basis of that “temporal heterotopia” “relative of museums” as Foucault argued.
And if recent commercial applications, mainly in the field of marketing and communication design, seem totally unaware of the existing background and context in the field of curating and exhibition design, yet some of their practical developments and theoretical studies could still provide some interesting case study for art curacy also, following the example of Bennett’s broader analyses.
This research therefore aims to analyze and foster curatorial strategies open to multiple voices and to cross disciplinary approaches for dissemination of knowledge, with a focus on the interactions between art and cultural exhibitions and their audience|visitors according to the latest developments in other fields such as environmental psychology and exhibition design. Moreover and as clarified by Bennett, fairs, commercial exhibitions or department store will also provide useful contemporary case studies. Besides crucial part of the research will be dedicated to the “plans and projections” at the basis of the examined exhibitions (whether conscious or unconscious) and to “the degree to which such plans and projections were successful or were simply not noticed”.
Lorenzo Morganti
Architect and designer, practicing since 2001.
He developed several research projects on product and interior design for Politecnico di Milano, where he has also taught since 2012. He lectured for different Universities and institutions in Milan, Delhi, Tashkent and Beijing, focusing on the newest strategies for fashion stores and fashion boutique hotels.
He developed several design projects for exhibitions around the world (mainly in the fields of design and fashion).

 

Henrietta Y. Mansfeld
Curating the Other in a Global Context: Inclusiveness in Curatorial Approach from 2000 to the Present

Otherness or the Other in the art world refers to non-male, non-White artists and their artworks. In an exhibition context, they are subject to layers of filtering by curatorial decisions and institutional narrative. With an increase of the so-called “international exhibitions” in recent years where institutions strive to be more inclusive and diverse, exhibition space has also evolved into an arena for discourse on identity politics. Therefore, in what ways can curatorial approach uphold its conceptual values without infringing on the Other’s social identity and politics? The research attempts to analyse exhibitions by mainstream Western art institutions from 2000 to the present. It will apply theories on Cultural and Social Exclusionism while assessing Context and Region-oriented curatorial approaches.
Henrietta Y. Mansfeld is an independent curator and writer based in Berlin. She founded The Cultarture Project, a curatorial initiative where she organised solo and group shows in Beijing and Berlin, artists talk and residency programme. Her texts have appeared online on Artforum, Ocula, Vision and more. www.henriettaym.com Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter

 

Emanuele Guidi
Like a Mountain / Like a Mall: How Institutions Think within their Environments

This research project investigates the role and potential of cultural infrastructure in peripheral and rural areas, taking into consideration current political debates around both ‘new regionalisms’ and the Anthropocene/Capitalocene narrative.
Having ar/ge kunst – Kunstverein of Bolzano as its central case study, the research is situated within the specificity of South Tyrol (Süd Tirol/Alto Adige) in Italy, a border region embodying a multiplicity of conditions that, through the lenses of culture, language, geography, history and economics, can help conceive of a curatorial and institutional practice within the extremes of the present political, ecological and migration situation.
The juxtaposition of the two texts addressed in the research title, ‘Thinking like a Mountain’ (Aldo Leopold, 1919) and ‘Thinking Like a Mall’ (Steven Vogel, 2015), constructs a ‘narrative device’ that contributes to the definition of a multifaceted and productive working framework for investigating the notion of ‘environment’ in its connotations at the intersection of culture, nature and techno-politics.
Emanuele Guidi is a writer, curator and artistic director of ar/ge kunst – Kunstverein of Bolzano (Italy).
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter


 

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.net
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Susanne Clause

 

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 (www.accumulationsproject.com) 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 as the artistic director of Fotogalleriet Oslo.
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

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
Curating 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.
Ronald Kolb works as a designer (www.biotop3000.de), lecturer, 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 On-Curating.org 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
Power, Myth and Reproduction: An Examination of The Artist Residency in the 21st Century

Artist residencies have come to serve as a critical credential in the legitimization process of artists in accruing agency within the art system. This process of capital gain occurs in tandem with a broader trend within the art world where global actors –from north to south and east to west– are coerced into buying into a globalized art system. How does the residue of forced hegemony on a multipolar world effect the practice of artist residencies? Is there a mythos around artist residencies and the iteration of artistic economies either vertically or horizontally?

In the current ecosystem of the art world, curatorial practices often collides with the artist residency intersecting at a critical juncture of the subscription circuit for the artist who often times encounters the former as a prerequisite for participation in said residency programme. As such there is an urgency to formulate curatorial strategies that can be employed to subvert the gravitational free market, and reclaim the space of the residency as a sphere for transgressive practice.
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)