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Laura Vallés Vílchez

MPhil work

Curating The Contemporary: Between Dissent and Story Telling

How do Western museums rethink their traditional structures? How have interdisciplinary methods in curating challenged the limitations of art institutions since 1990s? How have new forms of radical resistance and collective dissent informed exhibition making and their audiences? Can exhibitions be transformed into spaces of negotiation against disaffection? 


The significance of these questions lies in their attempt to contribute towards an understanding of the challenges that curating faces when it comes to confronting the contradictions of 'the contemporary' and traditional systems of representation. Since the emergence of 'the contemporary' in the 1990s the consensual modernist approach towards simplistic modes of mediating culture has been challenged. Technology, mobility, and global movement of bodies in the form of labour and capital defy traditional systems of representation and mediation, which are increasingly polarised and exhausted. 


Using literature on curatorial studies, institutional critique and media theory, this project examines how conventional systems of mediation (and representation) have shifted towards a paradox within the museum space. By focusing on the Spanish context after the economic crisis and increasing institutional disenchantment, this practice-based research argues that as a consequence of challenges to the modernist notion of the museum the invention of new forms of resistance, collective dissent and story telling are needed to overcome exhausted political and cultural infrastructures and forms of communication.


Drawing on my editorial experience and background in photography, my methodology moves from the Museo Reina Sofía’s archives in Madrid and the academic essay form, to a polymorphous video essay that proposes new relational forms of curation by the means of sound, images, and text. The research appeals to Donna Haraway’s notion of ‘muddle’, which I propose as a methodology to challenge dualism and embrace dissent as a key form of mediation, as strength against alienation, in favour of new forms of emancipation.


  • MPhil


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Curating Contemporary Art, 2016–2020

  • Laura Vallés is a contemporary art researcher, curator and writer. She is the founder and managing editor of Concreta: a Spanish organisation researching into image creation and art theory, which publishes a journal twice-yearly, as well as a series of books. She has edited and translated essays and conversations by Jacques Rancière, Donna Haraway, James Meyer, Ariella Azoulay, and Marina Garcés, to list a few; Laura has curated exhibitions and organised events with filmmakers Pedro Costa and Fabrizio Terranova, artist Carla Zaccagnini, and philosopher Franco "Bifo" Berardi at La Filmoteca (Valencia), Feira Tijuana (Porto), Tàpies Foundation (Barcelona), and Lumen Studios (London), among others. Prior to this, she worked on exhibition projects and editorial works in organisations such as Bombas Gens Centre d'Art (Valencia), Espai d'Art Contemporani (Castellón), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), and Afterall (London). She has contributed to periodical publications including Camera Austria, Babelia—El País, Concreta, 1000 Words Magazine, and A*Desk. In 2016, she was awarded with the Botín Foundation Fellowship which supported her MPhil studies.
  • Degrees

  • MA in Photography, Polytechnic University of Valencia (2007–2009); Fine Arts Degree, Polytechnic University of Valencia (2002–2007)
  • Experience

  • Founder and Managing Editor, Editorial Concreta, Valencia (2012–present); Editor, Bombas Gens Centre d'Art, Valencia (2017–present); Exhibition Coordinator, Espai d'art contemporani, Castellón (2012); Collections Assistant, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago (2010); Editorial Assistant, Afterall, Central Saint Martins, London (2009); Exhibition Coordinator, CMC La Mercé, Burriana (2008–2009)
  • Awards

  • Trajectories Award, Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània, Valencia (2018); Botín Foundation Curatorial Grant, Royal College of Art, London (2016); International Departure Fellowship: Gate 10, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena (2010); Leonardo da Vinci Fellowship, Afterall, London (2009); Erasmus Fellowship, Northumbria College, Newcastle upon Tyne (2006)
  • Publications

  • CONTRIBUTING WRITER (SELECTION); 'Archiving Voices: Collection and Collaboration in Spanish Contemporary Art', Photographies Journal, Routledge forthcoming 2019; 'Between Modernity and Tradition', Camera Austria 141, 2018; 'From the Tangle to the Spider's Web. On Stimulants: Circulation and Euphoria', Concreta 09, 2017; 'Gently Revealing, Caring Hard, All Touching', in Vv.Aa., Anarchivo Sida, Tabakalara, 2017; 'Somewhere Between Art and the World', Fundaçao Bienal de Sao Paulo, 2014; 'Murmur in the White Cube: On Iman Issa's Work', Concreta 06, 2015; 'Aspen: the magazine in a box (1965–1971)', Concreta 01, 2013; EDITOR (SELECTION); López, Hasan G.: Zoos humanos, ethnic freaks y exhibiciones etnológicas, Concreta Textos, 2017; Enguita, N. and Buci-Glucksmann, C.: Per Amor a L'Art Collection. Ornament=Crime? Bombas Gens, 2017; Wells, L., París, N. and Cortés Rocca, P.: Bleda y Rosa. A Geography of Time, Bombas Gens, 2017; TRANSLATOR (SELECTION); Terranova, F., Story Telling for Earthly Survival, biopic on Donna Haraway, Atelier Graphoui, 2017