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Michaela Crimmin


  • Michaela Crimmin
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Reader, Art and Conflict

  • At the RCA Michaela Crimmin is engaged in a four-year project, ‘From Conflict to Conviviality through Culture and Creativity’ (4Cs), supported by the EU Creative Europe Programme. The work being undertaken by the RCA, together with seven other galleries and universities in a number of European countries, seeks to understand how art and culture can constitute powerful resources to address the challenges of conflict. Intercultural dialogue is at the core of the activities, which include a residency, exhibition, studio visits, staff exchanges, events and a film programme. As an integral part of the work, 4Cs seeks to understand how training and education in art can constitute powerful resources to address the issue of conflict, and to contribute to audience development

    With an Arts and Humanities Research Council award Michaela previously established a network of forty UK experts from different sectors to reflect critically on the diverse roles and value of visual art addressing international conflict. This included events at Goldsmiths, the RCA and the University of Manchester, with speakers including Coco Fusco, Larissa Sansour, Professor Howard Caygill and Jananne Al-Ani; culminating in an online journal, Art and Conflict, published by the RCA.

    Prior to this, Michaela was a tutor in CCA with teaching focusing on commissioning art for the public domain; and art in response to ecological issues and international conflict.

  • Biography

  • Michaela is a curator, and an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins, UAL. She co-founded and co-directs Culture+Conflict, an independent not-for-profit agency working to explore, amplify and support the role and value of contemporary art produced in response to international conflict. Investigation is conducted through research in tandem with an ongoing programme of events, commissions, and artist residencies.

    Michaela is a Trustee for Wysing Arts Centre; a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), and the Higher Education Academy; and a member of the commissioning panel for a major new commission for Birmingham coordinated by Eastside Projects, with Susan Philipsz selected. She recently co-programmed and co-chaired ‘Promised Land’ for the Goethe Institute to bring artists’ perspectives to the subject of migration and displacement; and ‘Working across Continents’ and ‘Working across Divides’, two one-day symposia for Frieze and the Goethe Institute to debate the challenges and rewards of cross-cultural exchange. 

    Formerly Head of Arts at the Royal Society of Arts, 1997-2010, she co-coordinated the first series of artworks on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square by Mark Wallinger, Bill Woodrow and Rachel Whiteread, and was subsequently a member of the Greater London Assembly’s Commissioning Group. She co-founded and directed the Arts & Ecology Centre to support, promote and debate artists’ responses to environmental challenges through events, commissioning artworks, and the publication Land, ArtA Cultural Ecology Handbook edited by CCA alumnus Max Andrews. She ran Art for Architecture, a scheme that awarded a total of £2m to artists involved in building, engineering and landscape projects. She was curator at the pioneering agency Public Art Development Trust, for 10 years commissioning work for a wide range of contexts including hospitals, schools, railways, public squares and airports.

    Alongside her work on 4Cs, her interest in environmental issues continues, recently programming and chairing ‘Climate Control’, an event for the Whitechapel Gallery. years, commissioning work for a wide range of contexts including hospitals, schools, railways, public squares and airports.

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  • External collaborations

  • The 4Cs programme is a partnership between the RCA and Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon; Tensta Konstall, Stockholm; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Fundació Antoni Tápies, Barcelona; Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Lithuania; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark; and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. A residency by Jerusalem-based Noor Abuarafeh is taking place at Delfina Foundation; and an event is being planned with Tate for spring 2019 to coincide with Brexit. 

    With Culture+Conflict, Michaela is working with Kings College London to support a residency by Jananne Al-Ani at the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. 

    At Central Saint Martins, UAL, she is a BA Fine Art associate lecturer.

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Selected work


Research interests

Michaela Crimmin co-founded and co-directs Culture+Conflict a not-for-profit programme working to explore, amplify and support the role and value of contemporary art produced in response to international conflict. Investigation is conducted through research in tandem with an ongoing programme of discursive events, commissions, and artists’ residencies.

This work serves to support current PhD students whose interests overlap with many of the issues and contexts being explored.

An example of previous work was an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded programme that built a network of interest across different sectors; provided a platform for artists and academics including Coco Fusco, Professor Howard Caygill and Jananne Al-Ani; and published a free online journal, Art and Conflict. In winter 2016 an artist will take up residence at the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College London, with a second residency to follow in 2017. A partnership with Goethe-Institut London will deliver two events titled Promised Land, bringing together artists, curators and academics to discuss two views of Europe: the promise of Europe as a place of human rights, security and prosperity; and the Europe of borders, refugee camps, populism, and tendencies towards re-nationalism. The first of these will take place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on Wednesday 19 October 2016; and the second, a one-day symposium at Central Saint Martins, UAL. A new commission by Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen will be premiered in London and subsequently exhibited at Hull UK City of Culture 2017. An artist from Afghanistan will be fully supported to study for a Masters degree at University Arts London. Facebook pages are being built into an archive of related exhibitions, events and projects taking place across the globe.

A one-day symposium on Saturday 3 December 2016 for Frieze Projects, commissioned by Raphael Gyax, is being co-programmed with curator Marcel Bleuler. The aim is to raise afresh the interests and issues faced by (in this case) European curators and artists working in non-Western contexts; hear the perspectives of non-Western artists and curators, and funders/supporters, who are involved in these international exchanges/collaboration/projects/exhibitions; and discuss the considerations of bringing projects produced in these contexts to a Western ‘white cube’.

A research application focusing on the relationship between art and conflict is currently being developed by RCA/Culture+Conflict as a member of a consortium that includes Tensta Konsthall, Fundació Antoni Tàpies and Vilnius Academy of Fine Art, convened by The Lisbon Consortium. 

Current and recent research

Elisa Adami, Manca Bajec

Research students