Michaela Crimmin


  • Michaela Crimmin
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Tutor (Research)

  • At the RCA Michaela Crimmin is engaged in a 4-year inquiry into the diversity of contemporary visual art being produced in response to international conflict. This overlaps with work as co-founder and co-director of Culture+Conflict, an independent not-for-profit agency with an overarching aim to amplify the value artists are bringing to the address of many aspects of conflict. These include human rights and freedom of expression, forced displacement, surveillance, cyber warfare, and conflict in relation to the global ecological crisis.

    Alongside this work, Michaela is an independent curator and writer, and a tutor in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, UAL.


  • Biography

  • Michaela regularly participates in conferences and symposia at organisations including Photographers' Gallery, London; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Harvard University; M+, Hong Kong; and Sharjah Biennial. A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics).

    In 2016 she co-curated ‘Promised Land’ for the Goethe-Insitut, 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. This included events at the ICA and Central Saint Martins with speakers including Jonas Staal, Francis Stonor Saunders, Emeke Okereke, Tobias Zielony; and a new commission by Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, shown at Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

    In 2016/2017 she curated an artist’s residency by Bisan Abu Eisheh at the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College London.

    She was recipient of Arts and Humanities Research Council award 2014/15 to build and lead a network of interest across different sectors with respect to the subject of art in the context of conflict. This provided a platform for artists and academics including Coco Fusco, Larissa Sansour, Professor Howard Caygill and Jananne Al-Ani; culminating in an online journal, Art and Conflict.

    From 1997-2010 Michaela was Head of Arts at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA),a role that included coordinating the first phase of the Fourth Plinth series of temporary commissions for London’s Trafalgar Square by Mark Wallinger, Bill Woodrow and Rachel Whiteread; subsequently a member of the Greater London Assembly’s Commissioning Group.

    Michaela initiated and directed the Arts & Ecology Centre, 2005–2010, to support, promote and debate artists’ responses to environmental challenges. Activities included commissioning online commissions and films and publicly sited sculpture with partners including ZKM, Germany; and London’s Barbican Centre; artists’ residencies in India with KHOJ, Delhi, and Turquoise Mountain, Afghanistan; the commissioning of the publication Land, ArtA Cultural Ecology Handbook edited by CCA alumnus Max Andrews; and workshops and conferences programmed for and with partners including the LSE (London School of Economics & Political Science); Vitamin Creative Space, Beijing; and Sharjah Biennial.

    Previously Michaela directed Art for Architecture, a scheme to encourage collaboration between artists and other design professionals. Awards totalling £2m were made to 135 projects and 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.

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  • Practice

  • Michaela is artistic director of the RCA’s programme of work under the title ‘From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture’ (4Cs). The European Commission’s Creative Europe Fund has awarded 1.8 million euros to enable eight key arts organisations across Europe to work in partnership to explore how art and culture can constitute powerful resources to address the subject of conflict. A major focus is on training and education in a programme that includes research, exhibitions, artists’ residencies, film screenings, mediation labs, workshops, conferences, publications, an online platform and a summer school. The aim is to bring new audiences together in intercultural dialogue and collaboration, mutual recognition and equal participation. The programme will include a response to the challenges of migration, security, and freedom of expression, combining theoretical and practice-based knowledge to address emerging types of conflict at the heart of Europe, promoting conviviality as a model of intercultural dialogue.

    She is co-programming ‘Climate Control’, 26 October 2017, Whitechapel Art Gallery. Climate change as a result of global warming is becoming a main cause of conflict and humanitarian crisis. Building on research developed by artist Jasmijn Visser, this event considers how artists reveal and represent the impact of ecological disaster. No longer confined to the margins, speakers will consider the relationship between rural and urban, centre and peripheries, as the impact of climate change increasingly affects us all.

    She is co-programming ‘Working Across Divides’, 4 November 2017, Frieze and Goethe-Insitut London, with Raphael Gygax (director, Frieze Projects) and Marcel Bleuler (artasfoundation). A symposium to discuss the political-aesthetic thinking and the realities involved in art projects that create dialogue and shared spaces, and that find small scale solutions for global challenges.

    Michaela is curating artists’ residencies by Bisan Abu Eisheh and Jananne Al-Ani at King’s College London.

    She frequently lectures including guest speaker at Valetta 2018 Curatorial School, University of Malta; and at forthcoming 2-day conference ‘Conviviality and the Institutional’, Museum for Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) and Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon.

    Michaela is a Trustee for Wysing Arts Centre, which provides a range of programmes for artistic research, experimentation, and production.

    She is a member of the commissioning panel for a major new commission for Birmingham coordinated by Eastside Projects, with Susan Philipsz selected.  

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  • External collaborations

  • Michaela is currently co-programming events for Frieze and Goethe-Institute, Whitechapel Art Gallery and working on  a forthcoming exhibition with mima (Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art).

    She is working in partnership  with Universidade Católica Portuguesa; Tensta Konstall, Sweden; SAVVY Contemporary, Germany; Fundació Antoni Tápies, Spain; Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Lithuania; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark; and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, France as well as artist residencies with King’s College London.

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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, Huma Kabacki, Manca Bajec

Research students