Exhibition Research Lab
Exhibition Research Lab is an academic centre and public venue dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of exhibitions and curatorial knowledge.
Lab Leader: Professor Joasia Krysa
Founded in 2012 as part of Liverpool School of Art and Design, the Exhibition Research Lab (ERL) is uniquely positioned across academic research and the cultural ecology of Liverpool, underpinned by partnerships with cultural institutions in the city including Tate Liverpool, John Moores Painting Prize, and Liverpool Biennial.
ERL proposes curatorial practice as a form of critical inquiry and knowledge production. It extends the traditional remit of an art gallery as a site for display or pedagogical resource, to an expanded concept of a ‘lab’ where experimental thinking and making takes place, and where curatorial knowledge is enacted, produced and made public.
ERL disseminates its research through the public programme of exhibitions, talks, seminars, conferences, workshops and publications, including partnership with DATA Browser book series (Open Humanities Press) and Liverpool Biennial journal Stages. The residencies and fellowship programme is dedicated to connecting international artists, curators and scholars working across diverse disciplines.
The lab supports research in the following areas:
- Contemporary Curatorial Practice
- Exhibitionary Practices and Histories
- Museums and Institutions
- Collections and Archival Practices
- International Biennials
- Socially Engaged Practice
- Digital Curating
- Computational Cultures and Curating
Prof Joasia Krysa, Professor of Exhibition Research, in partnership with Liverpool Biennial
Professor of Exhibition Research and Director of Exhibition Research Lab at Liverpool John Moores University, with a joint appointment at Liverpool Biennial, where she is Head of Research. She also holds an Honorary Associate Professorship in Curating at Aarhus University, Denmark. Previously, she served as Artistic Director of Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark, part of the curatorial team for DOCUMENTA 13, and co-curator of Liverpool Biennial 2016. She is commissioning editor of contemporary art journal Stages published by Liverpool Biennial and series editor of DATA Browser books dedicated to art, politics and technology, published by Open Humanities Press. Her research is located across contemporary art, curating, digital culture and critical theory.
Dr Michael Birchall, Honorary Research Fellow
Curator at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich. Birchall is currently engaged in research around socially engaged art, community art, curatorial practice and theory, exhibition histories from the 1960s onwards, and new forms of creative labour in the arts. An academic and curator of international standing, he was formerly Senior Lecturer in Exhibition Studies and Curator of Public Practice at Tate Liverpool, and has spoken widely in North America, Europe and Australia.
Adam Carr, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art and Exhibition Studies
Adam Carr is a curator and writer, and holds the position of Senior Lecturer since 2017, lecturing in Fine Art, Art History and Exhibition Studies. From 2012 to 2017 he was Head of Exhibitions / Curator at MOSTYN I in Wales (UK). He has curated over 60 exhibitions worldwide to date – previously a guest curator for Castello di Rivoli, Museum of Contemporary Art, Torino; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; ICA, London; e-flux, New York; Nomas Foundation, Rome, Depart Foundation, Los Angeles and Arezzo City Arts Festival. Since 2017 he has been an advisor for Art Brussels, contributing editor to Mousse Magazine, CURA., and Collecteurs, New York, and member of the editorial board of The Exhibitionist. As writer, he has had over 200 texts published on art and curatorial practice, contributing to a large number of catalogues and monographs which have been published by ICA London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore; Renne Collection, Vancouver; Liverpool Biennial; and Gamec, Bergamo among others. In 2019, he co-founded, Espacio Mango, an exhibition space and gallery in Bogota, Colombia. His research interests include contemporary art, curating and both historical and present day usages of exhibition-making.
Dr Hana Leaper, John Moores Painting Prize Senior Lecturer
Dr Hana Leaper holds the post of John Moores Painting Prize Senior Lecturer and Development Manager since 2017. She began to undertake research on the John Moores Painting Prize in her previous role as Paul Mellon Centre Fellow and one of the founding Editors of the prestigious born-digital journal British Art Studies at the Paul Mellon Centre, a part of Yale University. At the Centre she played an active role in the research programme, and curated the display ‘The Catalogues of the John Moores Painting Prize’ to commemorate sixty years of the competition. Dr Leaper’s wider research interests include the Grosvenor School of linocut artists, twentieth century exhibiting histories and artists’ networks, and theories of an artistic middlebrow. She is currently working on an exhibition and catalogue of Grosvenor School linocuts with Dulwich Picture Gallery, and a touring retrospective of Sybil Andrews’ work that will begin at the Glenbow, Calgary in 2019. Between 2015-2018 she was a guest lecturer on the Courtauld Institute of Art ‘Making the Modern: art and visual culture in Britain 1890-1970’ MA programme, and the Yale in London ‘Photography and the Artistic Imagination in Victorian and Edwardian Britain’ programmes.
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PhD Researcher, LJMU funded, 2019-2023
Project title: 'How should social practice visual art from Japan be critically incorporated by Anglophone scholars, arts institutions and civil society groups
The research investigates the practical and intellectual impediments to the incorporation into Euro-American discourse of Japan’s mature and intensive field of social practice.
Jonathan Hoskins is a social practice visual artist and researcher living in London. Since 2011 he has produced long-term, interdisciplinary projects addressing the political efficacy of small scale collective action in relation to social narrative and urban change. These projects have resulted in publishing, public events, objects, text, performance, video and presentations. Each is made in collaboration with people with an expertise outside of the arts, including amateur urban ecologists, archivists, writers, boaters, and housing activists. Supporting institutions include Spacex Exeter, Flat Time House, Open School East, Tate Exchange, Somerset House, ArtsAdmin, South London Gallery, Bloc Projects Sheffield, Market Gallery Glasgow.
PhD researcher, LJMU scholarship, 2016-21
Project title: Start-Up Cultures: Understanding the Emerging Institutional Condition of the Art World
The doctoral research investigates the impact of neoliberalism on the ongoing transformations of the expediency of contemporary cultural and art institutions. Based on the mapping of mid-scale art organisations (museums, art centres, biennials) and research clusters, the research identifies major fields of institutional culture, and goes on to investigate the exponential growth of symptomising patterns. Analysing their respective programmes, the research examines to what degree their social capital is entwined with the broader context of the growing new cultural economy.
Mara Ambrožič is a cultural critic, research curator, and expert on international cooperation strategies. She has lectured at IUAV University of Venice (2007-2012, 2017) and was a visiting lecturer at University Sciences-Po in Paris (2012). Between 2013 and 2014 she served as research curator for several projects, including the reconstruction of Marcel Broodthaers’ Section des Figures (Monnaie de Paris, 2015). Recently, she was Director of NSK State Pavilion presented during the Venice Biennale (2015-2017). She co-edited several books such as Art as a Thinking Process: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production (Sternberg Press, Berlin). Founder of Libraries of the Future and associate editor of Archive Books Berlin, she is also member of Raw Material Company of Dakar, and board member of the Aufhebung Institute of Ljubljana.
PhD Researcher LJMU scholarship, 2016-21
Project title: Commoning the Biennial? A critical investigation in emerging forms of instituting biennials
The doctoral research examines the biennial imaginaries in the post-Occupy condition. It investigates recent curatorial attempts to rethink biennials as institutions in conjunction with commoning, practices of sharing and organising that articulate efforts for social relations and modes of production beyond the impasses of late capitalism.
Sevie Tsampalla has curated exhibitions addressing meeting grounds between art, social and political imaginaries, such as Fabric Spaces, Pianofabriek, Brussels (2015); small change, AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent (2013); Some Misunderstanding, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2013); sitePARAsite, RTT, Brussels (2008). She was assistant curator for Liverpool Biennial (2015-2016) and cluster-curator for Track, a city-wide exhibition organised by the contemporary art museum S.M.A.K. in Ghent (2011-2012). As founding member of the collectives Reconstruction Community and AAA, she initiated public actions and interventions respectively in Athens and Brussels (2006-2011). Together with fellow researcher James Schofield she co-founded the independent interdisciplinary research tool Exhibitions/Conversations (2017-ongoing).
PhD Researcher, LJMU scholarship, 2017-21
Project title: The Artist-Led Condition: Reframing Self-Organisation in the Visual Arts in the UK post-2007
The doctoral research seeks to chart the rise and development of artist-led practice in the UK and propose a new consideration of the term alongside a newly developed conceptual framework of contemporary cultural existence. Taking into account the impacts of neoliberal cultural governance and the interdependency between institutionalised and non-institutionalised practices, the research considers the dynamics of artist-led practice in relation to issues surrounding artistic autonomy, provinciality and place making between physical and digital worlds.
James Schofield is an independent artist and curator. Working extensively in the field of artist-led practice, he is concerned with critically exploring artistic existence in relation to contemporary culture, and how this shapes curatorial and exhibitionary strategies and outputs. Following graduating from the MA Exhibition Studies course at Liverpool John Moores University in 2016, in 2017 he curated and participated in Tumultuous Noise at blip blip blip (Leeds). Having held administrative positions at the Henry Moore Institute (Leeds), and currently acting as Manchester Editor for Corridor8, he recently also co-founded the independent interdisciplinary research tool Exhibitions/Conversations with fellow researcher Sevie Tsampalla (2017-ongoing).
PhD Researcher, 2019-2022
Project Title: Biennials as pedagogical tools
The research aims to construct a critical tool to analyse and evaluate the design and implementation of pedagogical programmes in the context of contemporary art biennials. Considered popular and one of the most dominant forms of exhibition-making in the contemporary art field, biennials are understood as hybrid cultural forms, between institutions and exhibitions, characterised by a fast-paced model of production that results in an exhibition/event and which tends to include extensive discursive programmes, generating therefore diverse bodies of knowledge. This research concerns a “third wave” of biennials (Gardner & Green, 2016) which includes those that have implemented pedagogical programmes as part of a wider art institutional strategies toward audience involvement, intellectual engagement and partnership building.
Gabriela Saenger Silva is an educator and curator, graduate of Institute of Visual Arts, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. She was contributor to mediation and education programmes of Mercosul Visual Arts Biennial Foundation and Liverpool Biennial 2016.
PhD Researcher, 2020/23
Project Title: 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.
Visiting Researcher, 2021
Project title: Curating on the web. Subverting the assumptions and mechanisms of the digital economy in today’s network of networks.
Starting from a historical mapping of curatorial strategies on the web, the project will focus on curatorial work that subverts the assumptions and mechanisms of the digital economy by devising new models for the production and display of contemporary art online. If, since the 90s, curating on the web has proposed a revision of the concepts of artistic originality, authorship, collection & archive, and audience participation in artistic and cultural processes, in recent years curators and artists have started to develop strategies that directly respond to the corporatization and hypermassification of the products of the digital industry (from cloud platforms to mobile applications, such as those for productivity and monitoring). This project will explore the context and workings of such approaches, and the way they adopts strategies of appropriation, disruption and contamination of discourses, to propose a constructive critique of the impact of digital technology on art production, society and networked culture, and to create new support structures. In the light of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project aims to open up a discussion on the role that curating on the web can have on discussing the complexities of our contemporary moment - inclusion, exchange and care.
This research project is collaboration with the Exhibition Research Lab at Liverpool John Moores University (UK) and sponsored by the Italian Council / Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity (Italy), and it will include sharing activities in collaboration with Walkin Studios in Bangalore (India) and Nation25 in Rome (Italy).
Marialaura Ghidini, professor and course leader of the MA Curatorial Practices at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, will be undertaking externally funded research project in collaboration with Exhibition Research Lab, Liverpool School of Art and Design.
Marialaura is a curator whose work explores the intersections between art, technology and society, particularly the way in which technology morphs behaviours, relationships between people and with the environment. Since her AHRC-funded PhD with CRUMB (University of Sunderland, 2015), she has researched the field of curating on the web, contributing her research to edited books, magazines and journals, such as the Arts Journal (2019) and the Journal of Curatorial Studies (2017). Interested in working with various exhibition formats, she founded the curatorial platform or-bits.com (2009-2015) and has curated projects such as ‘#exstrange’ (2017) on eBay; ‘Silicon Plateau’ (2015-) in print; ‘The C(h)roma Show’ (2014) in an electronics shop in Bangalore, IN; ‘128kbps objects’ on basic.fm (2013) and ‘Search Engine’ (2012) across public spaces in Birmingham, UK.
ERL hosts Liverpool Biennial 2018
Talk by Eyal Weizman, Liverpool Biennial 2018
Exhibition HTF The Gardner, Suzanne Treister, Liverpool Biennial 2016
The Serving Library Collection, April 2017
Excessive Research seminar, talk by Sally Tallant, November 2015
Visiting Researchers and Residencies
Jorge Menna Barreto, Visiting Artist in partnership with Liverpool Biennial 2020, University São Paulo, Brazil, 2019 /2020
Rosa Johan Uddoh, Liverpool Biennial Fellowship 2018 / 2019
Ariel Schlesinger, Visiting Artist, Israel, 2019 / 2020
Dr Hilmar Schäfer, Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences at Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, 2018.
Dr. Stuart Bertolotti-Bailey / The Serving Library, supported by Arts Council England, 2017/2018
Gabriela Saenger Silva, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil, 2017/2018.
James Charlton, Colab Research Centre, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, supported by the Arts Council of New Zealand, 2016/2017.
Jaroslaw Czarnecki, Academy of Fine Art, Gdansk, supported by Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Warsaw, 2016.
Nur Cemelelioğlu Altın, Yıldız Technical University and Gazi University, Turkey, 2017.
Silvia Franceschini, Politecnico di Milano, Visiting PhD Fellow, 2017.
Jana Lukavečki, Curatorial Assistant, Academy of Applied Arts, University of Rijeka, Croatia, Erasmus+ Traineeship, 2016/2017.
Eleni Mali, Curatorial Assistant, Open Hellenic University, Greece, Erasmus+ Traineeship, 2016.
Helen Kaplinksy, Visiting Researcher in partnership with the Science Gallery London, 2018/2019.
Marialaura Ghidini, Visiting Researcher in partnership with the Italian Council / Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity (Italy), 2021.
Ei Arakawa, Elise Atangana, Ryan Avent, Elmgreen & Dragset, Jessica Coon, Geoff Cox, Meehan Crist, Eoin Dara, Juliana Engberg, Marina Fokidis, Kristoffer Gansing, Verina Gfader, Candice Hopkins, Anne Kølbæk Iversen, Silke Otto-Knapp, Lars Bang Larsen, Jacob Lund, Raimundas Malaŝauskas, Francesco Manacorda, Mark Miodownik, Angela Nagle, Jussi Parikka, Alexander Provan, Kuba Szreder, Terry Smith, Cornelia Sollfrank, Wolfgang Sützl, Sally Tallant, Eyal Weizman
Research Intensives and Seminar Series
Hypertext Reading Group ‘Flickering Monstrosity’, series developed by Helen Kaplinsky;
Open Forum: on artist-led, series developed by James Schofield
Contemporary Research, in partnership with Aarhus University, Denmark and Research Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2017
Excessive Research, in partnership with Aarhus University, Denmark, and Transmediale Festival for Art and Digital Culture, Berlin, 2015/2016
2017, Birchall, M., Situating Participatory Art between Process and Practice.” ARKEN Journal 7 (2017): 56–74.
2017, Birchall, M., “The Precarious Nature of Curatorial Work.” In Who Runs the Artworld: Money, Power and Ethics, edited by Brad Buckley and John Conomos. Faringdon: LibriPublishing, 2017.
2020, Birchall, M., “A History of Socially Engaged Art and the Expanded Field of Public Art Production.”, In More Art in the Public Eye, edited by Micaela Martegani, Emma Elizabeth Drew, and Jeffrey Aaron Kasper. New York: Duke University Press 2020.
2017, Birchall, M., Cox,G., Krysa, J., Lund, Contemporary Research Intensive, Contemporary Condition series (ed. Cox, Lund), Sternberg Press, 2018.
Systemics, or Exhibition as a Series, (ed.) Krysa J., Sternberg Press, 2017.
2017, Krysa J.,‘Exhibitionary practices at the intersection of academic research and public display’, in Futures of Artistic Research (eds. Seppä A, Slager H, Kaila J.), University of the Arts Helsinki, 2017.
2015. Krysa, J, 'The Politics of Contemporary Curating: a Technological Perspective', chapter in The Routledge Companion to Art and Politics, Randy Martin (ed.), Routledge, 2015.
2020. Krysa J., “Exhibitionary practices at the intersection of academic research and public display”, chapter in Institution as Praxis – New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research, Rito, C., Balaskas B. (eds.), Sternberg Press, 2020.
2020. Birchall, M., “The Role of Public Practice in the Museum”, chapter in Institution as Praxis – New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research, Rito, C., Balaskas B. (eds.), Sternberg Press, 2020.
Conferences and Talks
Curating Now: curating in the age of globalisation, biennalisation, and Artificial Intelligence.
Keynote, Krysa, J. Annual Conference of Spanish Researchers in the UK, Liverpool University, June 2019, UK.
Beautiful World, Where Are You?, programme of talks curated by The Serving Library, in partnership with Liverpool Biennial 2018
Design and Empire, curated by Emily King and Prem Krishnamurthy, in partnership with Liverpool Biennial and RIBA North, 2017
The Biennial Condition: On Contemporaneity and the Episodic, in partnership with Aarhus University and Liverpool Biennial 2016
Quantum Real: Art and Particles, featuring Matthew Willson and Jol Thompson, curated by Lars Bang Larsen and Joasia Krysa, 2018/2019
The John Moores Painting Prize and the Rise of the Sixties in Liverpool, curated by Hanna Leaper, 2019
The Serving Library, and Paul Elliman’s Vauxhall Astra 2020, part of Liverpool Biennial 2018
Catch | Bounce: towards a relational ontology of the digital in art practice, James Charlton, doctoral project and exhibition, 2017
HFT The Gardener by Suzanne Treister, part of Liverpool Biennial 2016