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Dreamworlds of Flight: Feminist Perspectives on Gendered Labour and Flight Technologies in the Age of Capitalist Anthropocene

This research by practice explores what flight represents today- by defining flying, lifting off, as well as fleeing, escaping, etc.- and whilst trying to re-imagine what a subjectively emancipating, feminist, and politically deterritorialised mode of flight might look like, when dreamworlds of flight are reimagined and reclaimed through poetic technologies and collaborative feminist practices of woman’s work, using textiles and fibre-based artworks and installations. This research aims to reroute trajectory of flight towards more intimate, domestic realms, and activate it as a methodology to radically re-engage with the timeless inspiration of flight, of technologies and of dreams, to envisage forms of state formation conceived through a feminist perspective and celebrated through narratives of collective action through textile making.

Following the explorations into the fields of new technologies made by the artists of the modernist avant-garde in the early 20th century, this research aims to bring together the personal and the historic notions of flight and flying. This research provides an analysis of the connection between private and public conceptualisations of flight, the relationship between the individual and the state in relation to the development of the technologies of actual flight, in part by reference to archival material from Soviet aeronautical engineers that form part of this researcher’s family history.

This thesis analyses the contemporary perspectives on flight via feminist thinking (Federici, Plant, Braidotti and Haraway et al) and creative textiles installations (Bourgeois, Vasconcelos, Hicks et al). By problematising geo-politics of flight in relation to personal histories and feminist thought, this research strives to develop a new artistic vision of flight, to offer a transformative iteration for our future with flight technologies, that sets aside any reliance on male-dominated techno-industrial capitalist, military complex that continues to contribute to ecological collapse, climate catastrophe and global refugees’ and migrants’ crises.

This researcher’s argument suggests that dreamworlds of flight could be channelled, through the softening, haptic qualities of thinking through hand-making and collective creativity of textile artmaking, into empowering women to reimagine their role in relation to technologies, where instead of the automation of labour, visions of a posthuman feminist future can be built around eco-communality and post-technological solidarity.

Key details

School, Centre or Area


  • LAHP (Arts & Humanities Research Council)


More about Varvara

Varvara Keidan Shavrova is a visual artist, writer, curator, educator and researcher. Born in the USSR, she moved to London in the early 90s, where she has since lived in work, with periods spent living in China, Ireland and Germany.

Keidan Shavrova received MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has been awarded AHRC London Arts & Humanities Partnership studentship for her practice-based PhD at the Royal College of Art (2021-25). She has been awarded LAHP-funded research placement at the Flight galleries, Science Museum London (2023-24).

She has exhibited internationally, including at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, at Beaconsfield Gallery and at Dilston Grove/Southwark Park Gallery in London, and at Kunsthaus Ansbach in Germany.

She curated international exhibitions, including at Virginia Commonwealth University, Arts Qatar in Doha, and at York Art Gallery. Selected solo exhibitions include Photo Museum Ireland in Dublin, Espacio Cultural El Tanque in Tenerife, Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City, Galway Arts Festival and Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

She received awards from the National Lottery/ Arts Council England, Arts Council Ireland, Business to Arts, British Council and Culture Ireland. She regularly presents her research at international conferences and is a freelance contributor to Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet.

MFA Fine Art (Masters’ Degree with Merit), Goldsmiths, University of London, 2019

Curator-educator ‘InFlight-OnLanding’ masterclasses and public art work development with Ukrainian refugee women’s group living in Ireland, in collaboration with Photo Museum Ireland, supported by Irish Refugee Council, Blackchurch Print Studio and funded by Business to Arts ‘Begin Together’ Bank of Ireland Award. (January-July 2023)

Curator-educator. ‘InFlight’ workshops with migrant and refugee women groups in UK, digital residency, and public art project development, in collaboration with Counterpoint Arts and bi-annual Platforma Festival, supported by the National Lottery Arts Council England Project Development Grant. (January-November 2022)

Visiting Tutor. Sculpture studio, Heatherley’s School of Fine Art, London. (2018-2023)

Visiting Lecturer. MA Fine Art. Liverpool Hope University. (2022).

Curator. ‘The Sea is the Limit ‘group show on migration, borders and refugee crisis, York Museum, York, UK (2018), touring to Virginia Commonwealth University, Arts Qatar, Doha, in conjunction with The Seas and the Mobility of Islamic Art, the Hamad bin Khalifa International Symposium of Islamic Art (2019).

Guest Curator. ‘Giving Voice’ exhibition of Mary Robinson’s Presidential archive, Ballina Library, Mary Robinson Foundation, Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland. (2014)

Curator. ‘Through the Lens: New Media Art from Ireland’. Irish Arts and Culture Festival, Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City, Beijing, China. (2008).

Co-curator. ‘Map Games: Dynamics of Change’, multi-media visual art and architecture project involving 24 Chinese and international artists and architects, co-curated with Feng Boyi, in collaboration with offiCina (Beijing). Exhibition touring Today Art Museum Beijing, Gas Hall Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and CaoS Centre for Contemporary Art, Terni, Italy. (2005-2009)

Bank of Ireland Begin Together Business to Arts Award. 2023

Culture Ireland Award, Haptic Codes exhibition, London 2022

Bursary Award, Arts Council Ireland. 2021

National Lottery Project Award, Arts Council England. 2020-21

Visual Arts COVID-19 Response Award, Arts Council Ireland. 2020

National Lottery Project Award, Arts Council England


Artist in Prisons Scheme Award, Arts Council Ireland. 2019-20

London Arts & Humanities Partnership, Arts and Humanities Research Council. LAHP https://www.lahp.ac.uk/student/varvara-keidan-shavrova/

(2024) Chasma. SoAH RCA Postgraduate Research Exhibition (group), Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, London

(2023) Hopscotch. RCA PhD Research Biennale (group),. Copeland Gallery, Peckham, London

(2023) Earthwise. SoAH RCA Postgraduate Research Exhibition (group). Beaconsfield, London

(2022) Dare Mighty Things. (solo) Installation at the Hangar, Design and Innovation Building, Royal College of Art.

(2022) Haptic Codes (with Susan Stockwell) Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London

(2022) Unruly Encounters SoAH RCA PGR exhibition (group), Dilston Grove/ Southwark Park Galleries, London

(2022) Masterpiece London and UNTITLED Art Fair (group),, Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida

(2021) Inna’s Dream, (solo) The Battle of Britain Air Show, Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridge, UK

(2021) Art from Elsewhere, (group), Works from the MOMENTUM Collection Curated by Rachel Rits Volloch and Emilio Rappana, Kunsthaus Ansbach, Ansbach Germany

(2021) Points of Resistance, (group), Curated by Constance Kleiner and Rachel Rits-Volloch in cooperation with David Elliott, Jan Kage and Stefan von Weise. Zionkirche, Berlin

(2021) Beyond Elysium, (group), Kleiner von Weise gallery, Berlin in collaboration with MOMENTUM, Berlin

(2021) COVIDecameron: 19 Artists from the MOMENTUM Collection, (group), 10th Anniversary Online Exhibition

(2021) A Woman’s Work, European Prospects online project, exhibitions and international symposium

(2021) Migrant Crisis, (solo) Patrick Heide Contemporary Art at SWAB on Paper, SWAB Barcelona Art Fair

(2019) Inna’s Dream, (solo), Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London.

(2019) MFA Fine Art Degree show, Laurie Grove Baths, Goldsmiths, University of London.

(2018) Conspiracy of the Real. Artistic Perspectives in a Post-Truth Climate , Goldsmiths MFA students’ exhibition, (group), Tenderpixel, London

(2017) Reflections on Haw Lantern, (solo) site-specific installation at Seamus Heaney HomePlace, N.Ireland

(2017) The Opera, (solo) Live stream and on-demand, IKONO-TV Imaginary Museum, Berlin

(2016) The Opera, (solo), Momentum Berlin and Temple Beijing Cultural Centre, Beijing, China

(2014) The Opera. Across Chinese Cities exhibition (group) curated by Beatrice Leanza, Arsenale 100, Venice Biennale of Architecture

Keidan Shavrova, V. (2023). Image as Protest: VARVARA KEIDAN SHAVROVA REVIEWS JOY GERRARD AND PAULA REGO’S EXHIBITION AT CRISTEA ROBERTS GALLERY IN LONDON. Dublin: Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet. (March-April issue)

Keidan Shavrova, V. (2022). The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel. Book Review. Dublin: Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet (November-December issue)

Keidan Shavrova, V. (2022). Reclaiming The Contrast: Varvara Keidan Shavrova reviews works at the Rencontres d’Arles and Arthur Jafa at LUMA Foundation. Dublin: Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet (September-October issue)

Keidan Shavrova, V. (2021). The Sea is the Limit: We Need to Talk About Migration. The Seas and the Mobility of Islamic Art. The Eighth Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium of Islamic Art. London: Yale University Press. Chapter 15.

Keidan Shavrova, V. (2019). The Sea is the Limit. Exhibition catalogue introduction. Doha: Virginia Commonwealth University. Arts Qatar

Art and War: How can Ukrainian Artists Today Resist Putin’s Aggression?. Paper presented at the artists’ panel discussion, Kunst Und Krieg (Art and War) international conference, Schlesisches Museum Zu Görlitz, Germany, and Muzeum Karkonskie in Jelenia Góra, Poland, 2023.

Dreamworlds of Flight in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Feminist Perspectives and Poetic Technologies of Textile Installations. PhD research presentation, Transplanetary Ecologies workshops and seminars, Centre for Outer Space Studies, Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, 2023.

The Art of Self Determination - How the creative communities in Ukraine and the Baltic can resist the Russia's Invasion. Paper presented at the Panel discussion at The Politics of Memory as a Weapon. Perspectives on Russia’s War against Ukraine.’ International conference organized by European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, Warsaw, Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe, Oldenburg, in collaboration with the Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion, Reconciliation, Berlin, 2023.

Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds: Lithuanian artistic and cultural struggle for self-determination as a symbol made relevant by Putin’s war in Ukraine. Research paper presented at the international conference 100 Years of Self-Determination at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2022.

The Sea is the Limit Curator’s talk, Qatar Foundation and Painting & Printmaking department, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Doha, 2019.

The Art of Self Determination - How the creative communities in Ukraine and the Baltic can resist the Russia's Invasion. Research paper presentation. The Journal Club, Intelligent Mobility Design Centre, Royal College of Art, London. 2023

Artists Talk, Haptic Codes exhibition, Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London, 2022