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Professor Victoria Walsh

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  • Victoria Walsh
  • Area

    School of Humanities

    Role

    Head of Programme

  • Victoria Walsh is Professor of Art History and Curating at the Royal College of Art.

    She is a curator and active researcher whose projects span from the post-war period to the contemporary with a particular focus on interdisciplinary collaborations between artists, architects and designers; performance art and its documentation; the reconstruction of exhibitions; practices and histories of gallery education and audiences; issues of curating in relation to the digital, hypermodernity and globalization. 

    She is currently leading on the reconstruction of Richard Hamilton’s 1951 exhibition Growth and Form for the forthcoming Tate Modern / Museo Reina Sofia major retrospective of the artist’s work opening in 2014. She is also co-curating with Claire Zimmerman the research display Brutalist Image 1949-1955, which opens at Tate Britain in October 2014.  In addition, she is Co-investigator of the major Tate research project Art School Educated: Institutional Change and Curriculum Development in the UK since 1960 (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) and a member of Tate’s Research Centre The Art Museum and Its Future

  • Biography

  • Prior to joining the Royal College of Art in 2012, Victoria Walsh was Head of Public Programmes at Tate Britain (2005-11), during which time she led an innovative team of programmers and relaunched Late at Tate Britain as an experimental platform for working with artists, new media practitioners, commissioning performances, sound works, film and dance programmes, and initiating collaborations with London art colleges and artist collectives.

    In 2005, working with the curator Donna De Salvo, she organised the exhibition Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970 at Tate Modern, which included artists John Baldessari, Mel Bochner, Hans Haacke, Cildo Miereles, Braco Dimitriejvic and the estates of Marcel Broodthaers, Gordon Matta-Clark, Helio Oiticica and Lygia Clark.

    During the mid- 1990s she worked as a freelance curator, project manager and research consultant in the fields of visual arts and architecture including the project-management of the Competition to select an architect for Tate Modern; the relaunch of the Fourth Plinth Project in Trafalgar Square for the Mayor of London’s Cultural Office; the Opening of Tate Modern, with commissions including Michael Craig-Martin, Jeremy Deller and Acid Brass, William Forsythe and Ballet Frankfurt and Sir Harrison Birtwistle; and was co-ordinator of  seven major debates, ‘London in the 21st Century’, for The Architecture Foundation.

    In 1994,  at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, she worked closely with the American performance artist Joan Jonas on her retrospective which focused on five reconstructions of her video installations and initiated and curated a film programme of her videos, along with being invited to manage the interpretation programme for the exhibition and project managing the catalogue. This experience instilled a longterm interest in performance art, its presentation and documentation, and the complex curatorial issues involved in historical reconstructions of performances and exhibitions. This subsequently informed much of the work behind the reconstruction of the Independent Group exhibition ‘Parallel of Life and Art’ (1953) as part of the first ever retrospective of the work of the British artist-photographer Nigel Henderson, which Walsh also researched and curated, publishing the first monograph on the artist, Nigel Henderson: Parallel of Life and Art (Thames & Hudson, 2000).

    Working across both the museum, gallery and academic sector, Victoria Walsh has taught widely at institutions including Chelsea College of Arts, Architectural Association and University of Westminster. She received her doctorate in Art History from Oxford Brookes University in 1996, and also holds degrees in Art History (M.A., Courtauld Institute, London) and Curating (M.A., Royal College of Art).

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  • External collaborations

  • Victoria Walsh is an external examiner for Kingston University.

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Walsh, V. (forthcoming 2014) ‘Post Critical Museology: Practice-based Research in the Museum’, in Katarzyna Murawska Muthesius (eds), From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, Aldershot: Ashgate 

    Walsh, V. and Dewdney, A. (forthcoming 2014) ‘The Distributed Museum and the Crisis  of European Representational Systems’, in Pearla Innocenti (ed) Migrating Heritage,  Aldershot: Ashgate

    Walsh, V. and Dewdney, A. (2013) ‘From Cultural Diversity to the Limits of Aesthetic Modernism: The Cultural Politics  of National Collection, Display and Exhibition’, Agency, Ambivalence, Analysis. Approaching the Museum with Migration in Mind,  Milan: RCA / Mela

    Walsh, V., Dewdney, A., and Dibosa, D. (2012) Post-critical Museology: Theory and Practice in the Art Museum, London and New York: Routledge

    Walsh, V., Dewdney, A., and Dibosa, D. (2012) ‘Cultural Diversity: Politics, Policy and Practices’, in R.Sandell and E. Nightingale (eds), Museums, Equality and Social Justice, London and New York: Routledge

    Walsh, V., Dewdney, A., and Dibosa, D. (2011) ‘Cultural Inequality, Multicultural Nationalism and Global Diversity’, in Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity, Third Text/Arts Council England

    Walsh, V. (2011) Tate Encounters: Britishness and Visual Culture, London: Tate 

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Research

Research interests

Victoria Walsh has consistently engaged with interdisciplinary research throughout her career moving across both the public and private realm and different sectors (Visual Arts, Museums and Galleries, Arts and Funding Agencies) and invariably across different disciplines (Art History, Visual Cultures, Curatorial Studies, Cultural Studies, Social Sciences, Architecture and Urbanism, Cultural Policy Studies, and New Media).

 She is particularly interested in the development of interdisciplinary methodologies in relation to practice-led, practice-based, collaborative and situated action research as a means to approach the theory/practice divide and the separation of knowledge spheres that  no longer articulate or address the contemporary experience of culture or the conditions of interpretation. 

Current and recent research

MeLA (European Museums in the age of Migrations)

Research Field 4: Curatorial and Artistic Research

Principal Investigator

MeLa is a four year research project funded by the European Commission under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities Program (FP7th) and is an interdisciplinary programme which reflects on the new museum’s role with the aim to define new strategies for contemporary museums in a context characterized by a continuous migration of people and ideas. The RCA’s Curating Programme is the lead partner of Research Field 4, which is focused on questions of the relevance and strategic value of Curatorial and Artistic Research in relation to the MeLa project themes. The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona / MACBA (Barcelona, Spain) is the primary collaborative research partner with the RCA.

http://www.mela-project.eu/

Art School Educated: Curriculum Development and Institutional Change in UK Art Schools 1960—2010

Co-investigator

This is a Tate research project focused on producing interrelated histories of art education, artists’ relationships with society, and the impact of art pedagogy on artistic production to support Tate’s strategic aim of working with a wide community of artists. ‘Art School Educated’ reflects the fact that, despite their long history, distinguished national record and recent transformation, a comprehensive overview of UK art schools has yet to be documented. This three-year project represents a first stage for Tate and will identify the decisive reforms in the curriculum of the major London art schools from the 1960s to the present day, and asks how the curricula that were adopted relate to the output of the artists whose work is represented in Tate’s collection. As Co-investigator, Victoria has supported the development of the project and has particularly focused on the academicisation of art school pedagogy and practice, and the emergence and methodologies of practice-based and practice-led research.

http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/art-school-educated 

Tate Encounters: Britishness and Visual Cultures (2007-10)

Co-investigator

‘Tate Encounters: Britishness and Visual Culture’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under their strategic programme ‘Diasporas, Migration and Identities’, was a major three-year collaboration between Tate Britain, Chelsea College of Art and Design and London South Bank University. The project addressed the relationship between curatorial practices in the art museum, audience development and engagement, and the impact of cultural diversity policy. The research findings centre around the limits of the politics of representation and identity and aesthetic modernism as a curatorial trope within an analysis of the contemporary cultural condition of hypermodernity, globalisation and digital distribution.

http://process.tateencounters.org/             

http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/tate-encounters

Research

Research students