School of Humanities
- Curating Contemporary Art
Rebecca Heald is a curator with over ten years’ experience working in London and internationally. Her practice is driven by a desire to engage with a range of publics via processes that start with art rather than theories or arguments. With an academic background in modern languages, political science and art history, she is committed to an interdisciplinary approach that often results in collaborations. In London she is currently working as a curator on the 67-acre development at King's Cross, and internationally engaged in active research projects with colleagues in India and the Middle East.
Recent curatorial projects include the exhibition Thinking Tantra, Mumbai, touring to London's Drawing Room (late 2016); The House of Ferment with Grizedale Arts for Science Gallery London at Borough Market (2015); and a major commission for Art on the Underground with American artist Trevor Paglen at Gloucester Road Station, London. Previous exhibitions include Points of Departure at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London (2013) and Bodies that Matter (Galeri Mana), Istanbul. Between 2009 and 2013 she was Director of New Contemporaries, the UK's foremost organisation working with new and emerging artists. She has worked across exhibition and education departments at Sadie Coles HQ, Tate Britain and the Hayward Gallery. Before working in galleries she was Arts and Features Editor at telegraph.co.uk. She has served on the boards of Studio Voltaire, London, and the Liverpool Biennial.
Current and recent research
King's Cross, 2015 onwards
With curator Tamsin Dillon, Rebecca Heald is currently working on a series of new commissions for King's Cross, London, to manifest over the next three years. As well as working with artists to make new, site-specific artworks, the programme, entitled The King's Cross Project, seeks to ask questions about the role of art in the new social spaces of the city, both at King's Cross and beyond.
Thinking Tantra and Tantric drawings: Sites of Transformation, 2016
This exhibition presents a speculative history of Tantric drawings in the context of the international language of abstraction. Starting with works termed Tantric by their makers, including the flamboyant Vyakul, the exhibition continues with works by Indian artists who directly associated themselves with Tantra between the 1960s and 80s, and concludes with work by international contemporary artists who know and make a connection between Tantric drawings and their own ways of working: Tom Chamberlain, Shezad Dawood, Nicola Duvasula, Goutam Ghosh, Jean-Luc Moulene, Anthony Pearson, Prem Sahib, Richard Tuttle and Claudia Weiser.
Points of Departure, 2013
Points of Departure was a year-long collaboration led by Delfina Foundation with ArtSchool Palestine, ICA (The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London) and the British Council. It consisted of two curatorial residencies and six artist residencies that facilitated research, public engagement and the production of new artworks that were exhibited in both Ramallah, Palestine and the UK in 2013. The exhibitions explored the phenomena of liminality and presented new commissions by Palestinian artists Jumana Emil Abboud, Bashar Alhroub, Bisan Abu Eiseh, and UK artists Jeremy Hutchison and Olivia Plender. In relation to themes raised by the project and the works produced, the exhibition also featured the first part of The Incidental Insurgents, a landmark installation by Ramallah-based artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme.
Bodies That Matter, 2013
Bodies That Matter built on research and commissions stemming from Points of Departure. The term 'body politic' is a key metaphor in political thought and for centuries has been used it to liken the State to the human body. In visual terms, one of the most famous representations of this idea is the cover of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan in which the sovereign’s body is made up of many individual people, a literal manifestation of his belief in absolutism. Hundreds of years later, the idea, and ideal, of a nation as a single body made up of many persists, both in political rhetoric and in contemporary critical thought as a resource of social and political struggle.
The exhibition brought together artists absorbed in thinking about the body and structures of power in one of the most highly charged political laboratories of our time: Palestine.