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From Critical Studies to Public Programming: Public Knowledge at the Post-Democratic Impasse.

Susan Kelly, Valeria Graziano, Janna Graham

Friday, 18 May 2018 from 11:00 to 17:00 (CEST)

From Critical Studies to Public Programming: Public...

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From Critical Studies to Public Programming: Public Knowledge at the Post-Democratic Impasse.

This one-day symposium charts the impetus for Critical Studies programmes in Art Schools in the UK and Europe since the 1970s, to the proliferation of discursive events in the neoliberal art world today.

The term 'public programming’, in use at least since the 1990s, has arisen as a framework to speak about pedagogical initiatives across various public cultural institutions. It continues legacies from gallery education, new institutionalism, and independent pedagogic projects, which have contributed to the formation of art audiences.

This symposium aims to explore the trajectory of Critical and Complementary Studies courses in post-Coldstream art schools, often feminist and Marxist in orientation, to the phenomena of public programming. What does it mean today when art institutions host art school’s Critical Studies courses (see eg, ICA) and when universities brand and advertise their evening lectures series as Public Programmes? What is the relationship between the discursive spaces of the gallery and the art school? How do we move from the relentless production of critical thematics, and move toward new forms of public pedagogy?

This is the third research event in the Public Programming series, which explores how the democratic and critical premises that were the basis of a publicly produced culture and debate are now becoming undone, caught in the paradoxes of post-democratic institutions and under the pervasive push of event economies.

The first study day in the series, held at Middlesex University in June 2016 sketched out the field, its genealogies and problematics. The second workshop, held at Nottingham Contemporary in 2017, explored how museum public programmes have worked with social movements in Spain, Greece, Italy, Croatia and elsewhere, and the use of public programming in social centres and autonomous spaces.



11.00 – 11.45  Welcome & Introduction (Susan Kelly, Valeria Graziano, Janna Graham).

11.45 – 12.15  Naomi Salaman

12.15 – 12.45  Helena Reckitt

12.45 – 13.15  Women of Colour Index Reading Group (WOCI) and Symrath Patti

(Chair: Catherine Grant) 

13.15 – 14.15  LUNCH

14.15 – 14.45  Yaiza Hernández Velázquez              

14.45   - 15.15 Mick Wilson

15.15 – 15.45  Laurence Rassel

(Chair: Gary Hall)

15.45 – 16.00  BREAK

16.00 – 17.00  Collective Discussion


*Childcare available. Please get in touch with s.kelly ( if interested.



Yaiza Hernández Velázquez is a lecturer at Central Saint Martins-UAL where she runs the MRes Art: Exhibition Studies as member of the Afterall research centre. After studying Fine Art (Northumbria University), Visual Culture (Middlesex University) and Philosophy (CRMEP, Kingston University), she worked for over a decade in contemporary art institutions. Among other things, she was Head of Public Programmes at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona– MACBA, director of CENDEAC (Murcia) and curator at CAAM (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria).

Laurence Rassel is a cultural worker who can act as curator, teacher, organizer. She is currently based in Brussels. From 2008 to 2015 she was Director of Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, an institution created in 1984 by the artist Antoni Tàpies to promote the study and knowledge of modern and contemporary art. From 1997 to 2008, Rassel was member of Constant, a non-profit association and interdisciplinary arts-lab based and active in Brussels in the fields of art, media and technology. Currently she is Director of erg (école de recherche graphique – école supérieure des arts) in Brussels.

Helena Reckitt is a curator and researcher with extensive international experience in developing curatorial and critical research projects that focus on the overlapping realms of Art, Curating, Feminism and Sexual Politics; Affect & Relationality; and Curatorial Education.  Her previous roles include Senior Curator of Programmes, the Power Plant, Toronto (2006 – 2010); Senior Director of Exhibitions and Education, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, GA (2002 – 2005); Head of Talks/Deputy Director of Talks, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1990 – 1998); and Associate Commissioning Editor, Film and Performance Studies, Routledge, London (1988 – 1990).

Naomi Salaman is an artist and curator who teaches Fine Art at the University of Brighton. Her projects, publications and exhibitions have investigated practices and legacies we take for granted in the art school, the library and the museum, considering technological and institutional histories from a feminist perspective. Her practice is research based, involving photography and photography critique. Her PhD 'Looking Back at the Life Room,' (2008), involved extensive travel over ten years to European art schools, photographing life rooms and gathering images in libraries and collections. One of the intentions of the thesis was to reconsider the relationship between the theory and practice of art within an historical framework.

Mick Wilson is an artist, educator, researcher and Head of the Valand Academy of Arts, Gothenburg University (2012-); member of European Artistic Research Network (2005-); formerly chair of SHARE (2010-13); founder Dean of the GradCAM, Ireland (2008-2012); and first Head of Research, NCAD, Ireland (2005-7). Edited volumes include Curating and the Educational Turn(2010), SHARE Handbook (2013), and Curating and Research (2014). Ongoing projects include “the food thing” (2011-); and “dead publics” (2009-).

The Women of Colour Index Reading Group was set up in October 2016 by artists, Samia Malik, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Rehana Zaman. The reading group meets on a monthly basis to discuss work within the Women of Colour Index (WOCI); a unique collection of slides and papers collated by artist Rita Keegan that chart the emergence of Women of Colour artists during the ‘critical decades’ of the 1980s and 1990s. Reading group sessions aim to improve the visibility of women of colour artists whilst using material in the archive to generate discussion, thought and practice around current social and political concerns.

Symrath Patti is an artist whose work deals with the Black and Asian diaspora, race, gender and location, exploring cultural identity and difference and asks how we fit into a global context. Aesthetics of colour are important in her work.


Catherine Grant is Lecturer in the Art and Visual Cultures Departments at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently working on the re-enactment of feminist histories in contemporary art. Part of this research is published as “A Time of One’s Own” in the Oxford Art Journal, December 2016. She is also the co-editor of Girls! Girls! Girls! (2011) and Creative Writing and Art History (2012).

Gary Hall is Professor of Media at Coventry University, where he is a director of the postdigital arts and humanities research centre/studio, The Post Office. He is the author of a number of books, including The Inhumanist Manifesto (Techne Lab, 2017), Pirate Philosophy (MIT Press, 2016), The Uberfication of the University (Minnesota UP, 2016),  Open Education: A Study In Disruption (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014). In 1999 he co-founded the critical theory journal Culture Machine. In 2006 he co-founded an open access publishing house Open Humanities Press (OHP), which he still co-directs.


Janna Graham is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has worked in the field of the curatorial and gallery education for nearly twenty years, occupying long term positions at institutions such as Whitechapel, Serpentine Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario and Nottingham Contemporary. She developed exhibitions, residencies, and research at the intersection of art and contemporary social urgencies including the struggles around migration, gentrification, education, anti-racism and indigeneity.

Valeria Graziano is a Research Associate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University, working at the intersection of care, repair and maintenance. Her research focuses on the organizational import of these re-generative cultural practices in reference to the refusal of work and the possibility of political pleasure. She is currently co-editing the special issue of ephemera: theory & politics in organization on 'Repair Matters' (forthcoming).

Susan Kelly is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research looks at relationships between art and micropolitics, technologies of the self, space and practices of organisation. She works both independently and collectively (with the Micropolitics Research Group, among others) through writing, publishing and convening events and performative/ militant investigations. Her latest article is 'What is to be Done?’: Grammars of Organisation', Deleuze Studies, 12(2), 2018.

Together, they co-authored 'The Educational Turn in Art: Rewriting the hidden curriculum', Performance Research, 21(6), and are currently writing a monograph on public programming.


Photo credits: Rob Stanley, 11th July 2014 (CC BY-NC 2.0)



Do you have questions about From Critical Studies to Public Programming: Public Knowledge at the Post-Democratic Impasse.? Contact Susan Kelly, Valeria Graziano, Janna Graham

When & Where

Goldsmiths College
Richard Hoggart Building. Room: 142 (RHB142)
8 Lewisham Way, New Cross
London, SE146NW

Friday, 18 May 2018 from 11:00 to 17:00 (CEST)

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