Helen Kaplinsky 2020-2023
Monstrous subjectivities: A re-evaluation of the posthuman in born-digital storytelling
The research examines more-than-human, monstrous agents and ideas of difference in recent feminist born-digital contemporary art. Through curatorial practice the project will fabulate with the figure of the monster, circling around the construction and experience of ‘difference’. The lineage of the monster (Western Europe) is traced back to the cabinet of curiosity, miniature museums containing artefacts collected during the voyages of discovery. So-called ‘monstrous’ bodies – birth defects – were displayed as part of a curatorial scheme at the intersection of premodern ‘mythology’ and modern ‘science’. This entanglement of monstrous figures with dispossession and pathology provides a rich seam for considering historical narratives of marginalisation in dialogue with postdigital practices today. New Materialisms, a development of posthumanities, provides a generative primary field for engagement with feminist discourse on embodiment, anti-colonialism, queer theory and postanthropocentrism.
Helen Kaplinsky is a London and Helsinki based independent curator and writer with research that spans questions of postdigital identity and ownership. Most recently she curated GENDERS: Shaping and Breaking the Binary, Science Gallery London (2020). In 2015 she co-founded Res., a mutable curatorial organisation and workspace based in South East London. A recent project by Res., ‘Alembic’ (2016-18) included research into an archive of Cyberfeminist histories with partners University of Goldsmiths and ICA (London). Fellowships with the Contemporary Art Society and the Arts Council Collection both considered the relationship between property and collections. She is a trustee at Lewisham Art House and worked with Islington Mill studios on their ‘Temporary Custodians’ project, exploring alternatives to existing models of collecting. She is a visiting lecturer on Fine Art and Curating programmes in the UK and internationally.
James Schofield 2017-2021
The Artist-Led Condition: Reframing Self-Organisation in the Visual Arts in the UK Post-2007
The research critically explores artist-led self-organisation in the UK following the Financial Crisis (2007), charting the impacts of neoliberal precarity on practitioners. Situated within a broader discourse on self-organisation in the visual arts and cultural resistance to neoliberal hegemony in times of austerity, the research addresses key questions relating to socio-economic conditions of practice; resistance to systems of social organisation and governance; and the impact of increased networking capabilities. Outlining how artist-led self-organisation has become established as the methodology for the majority of practitioners in the period post-2007, it shows the terminology itself is defunct and does not describe the self-organised methodologies present in contemporary practice. Instead it proposes the ‘artist-led condition’ as a way to re-frame those self-organised practices, enabling a social and productive benefit to practitioners through a framework of collectivisation. One that acts as a composition of individuals acting in common rather than flattening differences into a homogenous mass, supporting them to be politically active in their own circumstances. Allowing for the formation of networked and localised forms of resistance to neoliberal governance in solidarity with one another, it provides practitioners with a new framework of practice presenting new possibilities for social change.
James Schofield is an artist-curator, Editor of Corridor8, and Sessional Lecturer at Liverpool School of Art and Design teaching across Fine Art, History of Art and Museum Studies, and Exhibition Studies. Working extensively in the field of artist-led practice, his research is concerned with critically exploring artistic existence in relation to self-organisation, neoliberalism, globalisation and network culture. Recent projects include organising the symposium What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About The Artist-Led (Exhibition Research Lab), and collaborations with the Research Pavilion (57th Venice Biennale), Radio Kosaten, and Akibatamabi 21 (both Tokyo). Most recently Schofield has had work published in OFF_CENTRE DRAFT #1 (PINK), CHAIN/MAIL Issue 3 (Corridor8), and Contemporary Research Intensive (The Contemporary Condition).
Gabriela Saenger Silva 2019-2022
Rethinking Biennials as Educational Tools
Discursive programmes are a fast-growing strategy used by contemporary art biennials to enhance, contra point and/or contribute to their exhibitions. The proliferation of such kinds of programmes in the last decades in biennials – that Green and Gardner identify as “self-conscious biennials” – provide an immense body of knowledge. The prominence of such programmes reflects how biennials are both interconnected in a global network and how they respond to different theoretical turns of recent contemporary art history (such as the discursive turn, educational turn, and social turn, and currently towards a decolonial turn). However, despite the accumulation of knowledge provided by the programmes to both biennial studies and exhibition studies, there is a lack of ‘archaeology’ of these processes. The idea of this research is to use the experiences from Mercosul and Liverpool Biennial to investigate it.
Gabriela Saenger Silva is an educator and arts practitioner. Holding a BA in Public Relations and MA in Theory, History and Critics of Visual Arts, she was Operations Coordinator for Mercosul Biennial from 2007 to 2013, guest curator for Bienal de São Paulo 2018 and Mediation Coordinator for Liverpool Biennial in 2016 and 2018.
Sevie Tsampalla 2016-2021
Commoning the Biennial or the Biennialisation of the Commons?
The research examines commoning as a practice within or against contemporary art biennials. Biennials have been hosting discourses on commons, struggles central for transformative politics and social life beyond capitalism. Intersecting with commoning, post-Occupy artists’ demands for politicising art and institutions often target biennials for ambivalent positions that sustain both radical left-wing rhetoric and ties to neoliberal interests, affecting a ‘biennial legitimacy crisis’. In the research, the understanding of commoning as everyday practices of sharing, cooperation and solidarity draws on self-managed art spaces and refugee housing occupations in Athens, theorised as ‘emergent common spaces’ or ‘urban solidarity spaces’. It is in these debates and contexts two case studies that share a curatorial intent to ‘learn from’ commoning practices and the solidarity cultures of Athens are situated: Athens Biennale 5-6, OMONOIA (2015-2017) and documenta 14, Learning from Athens (2017).
Sevie Tsampalla has a background in art history and cultural studies, and experience working with artists, curating, and producing artworks and exhibitions. Her research and projects explore the sociopolitical potentialities that emerge at the intersections of art, exhibition making and urban everyday politics. Tsampalla initiated urban interventions in Athens and Brussels with artist collectives Reconstruction Community and AAA respectively, and curated Jonas Vansteenkiste-Mr House at Trophy Room, Liverpool (2016); Fabric Spaces [make city], Pianofabriek, Brussels (2015); small Change at AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent (2013); and Some Misunderstanding at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2013). As Assistant Curator for Liverpool Biennial 2016, and Cluster-Curator for Track, a citywide exhibition by S.M.A.K. Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art Ghent (2012), she was responsible for curating and producing participatory performances, installations, conferences and publications.