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Paula Lopez Zambrano

MA work

Curating Contingency

Historically, curating as with any institutional practice has been about articulating the ideology, aesthetical values and history of a culture as truth. The museum, as the ‘house of the muses’ suggests a poetry of meaning in the arts, throughout Western history it has come to signify a place of learning and authority. Contemporary curating, however, has thrown this objectivity of meaning into question, and the artist and curator have challenged the concrete and linear nature of the historical narratives told through exhibitions in the relationship of works of art. Exhibitions are now widely considered to be subjective, and temporary arrangements, but maintain a sense of the order of things through the authority of the individual curator as making sense of disparate works of art through their selection and arrangement. In short, there is the suggestion of a certain logic in how art appears in the gallery, even if an idiosyncratic one, and with it a sense of belief in this higher order. In this dissertation I  explored recent exhibitions that proposed alternatives to this human centred, subjective arrangement of works of art through contingent means. Through these case studies and a critical enquiry into the nature of truth, belief and contingency, I considered how the ideology of exhibitions themselves has shifted to a contemporary perspective where culture, history and belief is increasingly seen as a set of relationships where even human agency is no longer the central consideration (as you will realize this suggests Foucault, belief and logic, and also a move towards relational aesthetics/object orientated ontology).


  • Paula Lopez
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Curating Contemporary Art, 2014

  • I'm interested in analysing aspects of contingency, accidents and violence in contemporary art and exhibition making. I studied authors such as Michael Foucault, Boris Groys and Gustav Jung for my MA dissertation, exploring recent exhibitions that have proposed alternatives to a human-centred and subjective arrangement of works of art through contingent means. According to Foucault, there is as an anxiety towards the emergence of discourse as a discontinuous event, and all that it could imply, including violence, disorder and danger. This can be applied to the contemporary art system, and I wish to develop further my research through academic studies and practical work (doctoral studies and curating projects). 

  • Degrees

  • BA Art History, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico, 2008; Diploma in Art Studies, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico, 2004; Portuguese Language and Culture Course, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, 2009; French Language and Civilisation Course, Université Paris–Sorbonne, France, 2003
  • Experience

  • Exhibitions coordinator, Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca, Mexico, 2011
; Coordinator, Luis Adelantado Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico, 2009–11
; Assistant to the curator, Carpe Diem Arte & Pesquisa, Lisbon, Portugal, 2009
; Coordinator, Galería 13, Mexico City, Mexico, 2008–9
; Style and drafting/writer, Mapas Publishers, Mexico City, Mexico, 2006–7; Gallery assistant and PR, Galería Arroniz Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico/London; Jury, Stimulation Program for Creativity and Artistic Development in Oaxaca (PECDA), Mexico, 2011; Jury, Stimulation Program for Creativity and Artistic Development in Oaxaca (PECDA), Mexico, 2011; Research and education assistant, National Museum of History, Mexico City, Mexico, 2008
; Research and archive assistant, Curare, Critical Space for the Arts, Mexico City, Mexico, 2008
; Writer and critic for publications including Código, El Jolgorio Cultural, Réplica2, Caviar Izquierda, Excelsior, A23, Literatura para no leer, and Travesías
  • Exhibitions

  • Unpacking My Memory, Private House in Kings Road, London, 2014 ; Rushgrove House, Woolwich, London, 2013 ; Correspondence, Mexico–Lisbon, Neter, Mexico City; the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art Rufino Tamayo, Oaxaca, Mexico; Galería Abraço, Lisbon, Portugal; and the Espaço Multiplo of Carpe Diem Arte & Pesquisa, Lisbon, Portugal, 2010; Tracing the Tacit, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, 2013
; Overdue Synchronicity, La Tallera, Cuernavaca, México/Royal College of Art, London, 2013
  • Conferences

  • Speaker, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico, 2005; Life (Bildung), Barbican Centre, London, 2013