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Liverpool School of Art and Design

Dr Michael Birchall


Dr Michael Birchall holds a collaborative post with Tate Liverpool where he is curator of public practice, and Senior Lecturer in Exhibition Studies at Liverpool John Moores University. Where he is an active researcher in the Exhibition Research Lab devoted to the study of exhibitions and curatorial knowledge; and programme leader for the MA in Exhibition Studies.

His research interests include, socially engaged art, participatory practices, community art (particularly in Europe and North America), curatorial practice and theory, exhibition histories from the 1960s onwards, and new forms of creative labour in the arts. He would welcome prospective PhD applications in these areas.

Previously he has held curatorial appointments at The Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre (Canada), The Western Front (Vancouver, Canada), and Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (Germany). His curatorial practice concerns socially engaged art, performance, and public practice. From 2012-2015 he lectured on the Curating Program at Zurich University of the Arts, and was co-publisher of the journal On Curating. He received his PhD from the University of Wolverhampton under the tutelage of Professor John Roberts.

He has spoken at a wide range of conferences internationally, and museums, including, Tate, International Studio & Curatorial Program (USA), Migros Museum (Switzerland), Rogaland Kunstsenter (Norway), Université du Québec Montréal (Canada), The Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), and The Model (Ireland). In 2014 he delivered a keynote address at Sydney College of Art, as part of the conference, 'Curating Feminism: a Contemporary Art and Feminism', and in 2016 he participated as guest faculty in the SAAS-FEE Summer Institute of Art, on Art and the Politics of Individuation in Berlin.




2018, Higher Education Academy, United Kingdom, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
2016, University of Wolverhampton, UK, PhD, 'The Curator as Producer in Socially Engaged art, 1993-2015'
2007, CRUMB/Universtity of Sunderland, UK, MA Curating
2006, Northumbria University, United Kingdom, BA (Hons) Art History and History

Academic appointments

Programme Leader: MA Exhibition Studies, Liverpool John Moores University, 2017 - present
Senior Lecturer in Exhibition Studies, Liverpool John Moores University, 2016 - present


Highlighted publications

Birchall MG. 2017. The precarious nature of curatorial work Buckley B, Conomos J. Who Runs the Artworld: Money, Power and Ethics Libri. Faringdon, Oxfordshire, UK 9781911450139 Publisher Url Public Url

Birchall MG. 2017. Situating participatory art between process and practice Jalving C. ARKEN Bulletin, 7 :56-74 Publisher Url Public Url

Birchall M, Fryer L. O.K. - The Musical by Christopher Kline. Author Url


Birchall MG. 2017. The precarious nature of curatorial work Buckley B, Conomos J. Who Runs the Artworld: Money, Power and Ethics Libri. Faringdon, Oxfordshire, UK 9781911450139 Publisher Url Public Url

Birchall MG. 2017. Institutionalising the social? hablarenarte . Impossible Glossary: Institutions hablarenarte. Madrid, Spain 9788461742882 Author Url Publisher Url

Johnston M, Birchall MG. 2015. The role of Ego The Questions We Ask Together 9780996112307

Birchall MG. Annika Eriksson Blickwechsel Zwei 50 Jahre Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD ; die Jahre 1988 - 2013 9783893571260

Birchall MG. Second-wave artist-led culture and new institutionalism The Hammock Residency Index. Vancouver, Canada

Birchall MG. ART PRODUCTION: “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT” LOT :25-29 CUL DE SAC Gallery, London. London, UK

Birchall MG. Let's Participate Let's art ein Jahr Pedro Wirz 9783000330278

Birchall MG. Dagmara Ganda: Building Disaster Stride Gallery Catalogue 978-1-897551-10-3

Birchall MG. Curatorial Thinking & Reconstructing the Social in the Museum Giebelhausen M, Adamou N. Reconstructions, Restagings, Re-enactments: Exhibition histories in the twenty-first century Routledge

Journal article

Birchall MG. 2017. Situating participatory art between process and practice Jalving C. ARKEN Bulletin, 7 :56-74 Publisher Url Public Url

Birchall MG. 2015. The King of Zines: AA Bronson’s reflections on artists’ books and the shifting nature of self-publishing culture. Wismer W. 27 :25-34

Birchall MG. 2015. Socially engaged art in the 1990s and beyond Richter D. :13-19

Birchall MG. 2011. Alternatives Architectures: residencies and urban agriculture Henry M. ADB | Amici Di Borgo,

Birchall MG. 2008. Kristina Lee Podesva's Colourschool: a new pedogogy? C-Magazine,

Book review

Birchall MG. Exhibition as Social Intervention: ‘Culture in Action’ 1993 Art & the Public Sphere, 1-2

Editorial/letter to the editor


Birchall MG. Wie geht's dir Stuttgart?/Stuttgart, How are you doing? Publisher Url

Birchall M, Fryer L. O.K. - The Musical by Christopher Kline. Author Url

Birchall MG. You are Here: pop up museum with Gyro and Thinking Film Author Url

Birchall MG. Against Ordinary Language Author Url


Birchall MG. The Tilting at Windmills by Alex Turgeon Author Url

Birchall MG. CLIMAVORE: THE BRITISH SEAFRONT with Cooking Sections Author Url

Birchall MG. Public Programme: Crisis of Over Production: art on the margins.

Birchall MG. Public Programme: Maria Lassnig and Frances Bacon

Birchall MG. Public Programme: Yves Kline

Birchall MG. Public Programme: Life In Motion: Egon Schiele/ Francesca Woodman

Birchall MG. Public Programme: 'What makes us modern?' (Fernand Léger: New times, New pleasures)

Birchall MG. Public Programme: John Piper

Engagement & Impact

Other invited event:

Kevin Gaffney: Far from the reach of the sun, FACT, Liverpool, Artist Kevin Gaffney presents his latest film work, Far from the reach of the sun, followed by a Q&A.. 2018

Practice and Power. "The Politics of Practice", Dublin, Ireland, This panel will examine the political potential of collaborative and socially engaged art practices at cultural, societal, policy, and grassroots levels. Panelists will look at where the power and agency lies in the relationship with project participants and with institutions that often fund and host this work. Some of the challenges of collaborative practices are around about ethical questions of agency, ownership and authorship amongst participants, and around hierarchies of form, and how different models and art forms fit into an institutional understanding of what art can be, who it can be for, and what it can do.. 2018

Practice and Power: Practice and Pedagogy: The question of Artists’ Formation, Dublin, Ireland, At what point does an artist’s formation begin? From a young child through to accessing third level, the nurturing of that creative inquiry is dependent on many factors. For emerging artists wishing to develop a collaborative, socially engaged practice, what are the required supports? How can local authorities, academies, and arts institutions create a learning ecology that takes account of the process-oriented nature of the practice and the complexity of the organisational matrixes to be navigated?. 2018

OPAVIVARÁ in conversation., Tate Liverpool, Join artists OPAVIVARÁ! as they talk about making art work in social and political context of contemporary Brazil in conversation with Dr. Michael Birchall.. 2018

Hablemarte Residency, Madrid, Spain, Curatorial Residency. 2017

Shades of Agency, Hosted by Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme, Helsinki, Finland, Invited Speaker. 2017

Curatorial Practice and Process, University of Teeside, UK, Guest Lecturer. 2017

Liveness in the Museum, Tate Modern, London, Invited speaker. 2017

Guest Faculty: SAAS Fee Berlin. "Art, the museum and its constituencies", Berlin, Germany, SFSIA Berlin July 4-29, 2016 Art and the Politics of Individuation: Affect and the Multiple Body in Cognitive Capitalism. 2016

Picture Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Guest Curatorial Faculty. 2015

Curatorial Residency at The Model, Sligo, Ireland, Residency. 2015

Masterclass: Curating in times of crisis: immaterial labour and the rise of the entrepreneur, Sydney College of Art, Masterclass as part of the conference: 2014

Inclinations #13: Activism and Art, Berlin, Germany, 2014

International Curators Forum: Sharjah Biennial “March Meeting”, Sharjah Biennial, UAE, Curatorial Research. 2014

Lyotard for the twenty-first century curator: a singular account, Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts, Salzburg, Austria, Curatorial Residency. 2013

Curatorial Residency, Fire Station, Dublin, Ireland, Residency. 2013

The Decapitated Museum, The Banff Centre, Canada, Curatorial Residency. 2012

Teaching qualification:

Fellowship of Higher Education Academy. 2018

Research Grants Awarded:

Arts Council England, Connecting Publics, Krysa, J., Leaper, H., Grant value (£): 15000. 2018

LJMU, QR Award to attend 2016 Conference of the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC) and deliver papers., Grant value (£): 2000, Duration of research project: 1 month. 2016

Conference organisation:

Socially Engaged Art Practices in Liverpool, Curator, 2018

The Curatorialization of Activism in Art as a Neo-Avant-Garde, Co-convener with Megan Johnston, 2014

Third, fourth and fifth spaces Curatorial practices in new public and social (digital) spaces, Co-organised with Silvia Simoncelli and Dorothee Richter., 2013

External committees:

2017 Visible Award Curatorial Advisory Board, Visible, Advisory Board, 2016

Ambition for Excellence – Liverpool, HEI Artist Subgroup Meeting, Arts Council England. 2016

Conference presentation:

Knowledge Production, Universities Art Association of Canada, Montreal, Canada, Oral presentation. 2016

The (New) Curator in Socially Engaged Art, Universities Art Association of Canada, Montreal, Canada, Oral presentation. 2016

Collaboration in the gallery, Galleries of Inquiry, Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, Oral presentation. 2016

Shifting power: the rise of the curator as producer in socially engaged art, Curating: Glittering Myth, Social Symptom, Revolutionary Force? A Conference on Curatorial Knowledge Production, Zurich University of the Arts, Oral presentation. 2014

Activism & Art: for the de-proletarianized petty bourgeoisie, Curating Feminism: a Contemporary Art and Feminism event co-hosted by Sydney College of the Arts, School of Letters, Arts and Media, and The Power Institute, University of Sydney, University of Sydney, Keynote Address. 2014

The post-Fordist Curator, Curatorial Practices Reframed, European University Cyprus, Oral presentation. 2013

The legacy of site-specificity: socially engaged art since the 1990s, Open Engagement: Contexts, Publics, Institutions, Portland State University, Oral presentation. 2013

Let's be social: the merging roles of the artist and curator in socially engaged practice, Association of Art Historians: 39th Annual Conference and Bookfair, University of Reading, Oral presentation. 2013

The curatorialization of the neo avant-garde Documenta 13 and the 7th Berlin Biennial (2012)., The Avant-Garde: A History? A Theory? A politics?, University of Edinburgh, Oral presentation. 2013

Questions of Curation, Open Engagement: Economies, Politics, Education, Representation, Portland, OR, Oral presentation. 2012

Membership of professional bodies:

Member, Universities Art Association of Canada. 2016

External collaboration:, Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme, The Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP) is an ambitious transnational cultural programme focusing on the dynamic area of collaborative arts.. 2015

Media Coverage:, Meaningful learning partnerships., The Art of Taking Part., Liverpool: The New Queer Art Scene., hablarenarte interview as part of Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme, Madrid, Spain, November, 2016..