The Department of Feminist Conversations at Tate Exchange

The Department of Feminist Conversations is an intervention into contemporary criticality that seeks to broaden conversations about life and art through the perspective of contemporary feminisms.

Founded by myself with writers Mary Paterson & Maddy Costa, The Department of Feminist Conversations embodies feminism as a political stance and a historical discourse. It approaches art as the symbolic and material terrain that both represents and influences the concerns of culture at large. We want to understand criticism as a plural, collective engagement, to consider what might constitute a contemporary cultural discourse, and widen access to both. We want to establish a feminist framework for speaking beyond women’s issues, about art, performance, politics and social organisation.

Through discussions, events, roaming assemblies and a series of published pamphlets, The Department of Feminist Conversations will create a visible, embodied and inclusive practice of feminist discourse in public space.

Our approach builds on the thoughts and actions of our feminist predecessors, while attempting to avoid the pitfalls of the so-called third and fourth waves. We pay attention to personal experience in order to expose the assumptions at the heart of patriarchal society, but recognise the limitations of our worldview as a more-or-less homogeneous group (all living with white and middle-class privilege), and make intersectional awareness and inclusivity key strategies for learning and thinking. Neoliberalism fuels debates surrounding questions of privilege, identity and co-option: we seek to develop criticality towards these issues, while creating a space for productive discourse related to difference, visibility and autonomy.

The Department of Feminist Conversations will be talking on the theme of ‘exchange’ as part of The Give & Take, a festival of talks, discussions and mini-panels curated by the artist Tim Etchells at Tate Modern, Thursday 29th September to Sunday 2nd October.

We will be talking at 6.15pm on Friday 30th September.

For more information on our work, you can visit the Department’s page on Medium:


Performance and the new Tate Modern

‘How can one think of art institutions in an age that is defined by planetary civil war, growing inequality, and proprietary digital technology? The boundaries of the institution have become fuzzy. They extend from pumping the audience for tweets, to a future of ‘neurocurating’ in which paintings will surveil their audience via facial recognition and eye tracking to check whether paintings are popular enough or whether anyone is behaving suspiciously.’

Hito Steyerl, A Tank on a Pedestal: Museums in an Age of Planetary Civil War

In its interest in performance, the newly expanded Tate is claiming an institutional engagement with its archiving, documentation, collation and legitimation within narratives of art history. It probes important distinctions: between presentation and representation, enactment and interpretation. The Tate has justified its centrality at the heart of two systems, seemingly incompatible with each other: one is the necessary business-minded, profit-driven, economically fluctuating world of private sponsorship and the art market itself; and the other, an alignment with public accountability  – the institution as civic space. So is the Tate turning to performance not just to satisfy the necessary expansion of its art histories, and of contemporary narratives of art, but also to carve the space for public engagement and art as event? Is it trying to mediate between those two worlds by seeking spaces of encounter? So I begin with Hito Steyerl as a way of asking an old question: what do we demand of a contemporary art institution, when that institution positions itself as public without acknowledging with the wider infrastructures that challenge that identity?

You can read the full piece for Exeunt Magazine here.

Critical thinking around Live Art for Live Art Almanac Vol 4 Launch


The Live Art Almanac Volume 4 is? a collection of ‘found’ writings about and around Live Art that were originally published, shared, sent, spread and read between January 2012 and December 2014. Selected through recommendations and an open call for submissions,Volume 4 reflects the dynamic, international contexts that Live Art and radical performance- based practices occupy.

Volume 4 will be launched at The White Building in an event featuring two open discussions on the state of writing from Live Art, chaired by Megan Vaughan (LADA Programmes Manager and cultural blogger). The editors of the Almanac Lois Keidan (LADA co-director), Aaron Wright (former LADA Programmes Manager and new Artistic Director of Fierce Festival) and Harriet Curtis (Kings College London) will talk about the editorial processes and content of Volume 4.

This will be followed by a debate on new developments in critical thinking around Live Art with three of the most significant writers working in the UK today, Diana Damian, Maddy Costa and Mary Paterson.

Public Collection Tate Modern: In Conversation with Manuel Pelmus

On July 7, Manuel Pelmu? comes to Romanian Cultural Centre to talk about his work, collaborations and the most recent project: Public Collection Tate Modern, which can still be seen until July 3rd. I will be hosting the conversation.

Public Collection Tate Modern 2016 is a site-specific work by Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus. The work is enacted by a group of five performers who use their bodies to transform artworks originally made in other media. These include well-known and not so well-known works from the Tate collection, alongside works from other public collections. Though the work is playful, at the same time it critically proposes an alternative system of value in which the live act prompts us to consider how we might embody a shared heritage.
Manuel Pelmus is a Bucharest and Oslo based artist. He has a background in choreography, and over the years he developed works for the theater context, while recently being increasingly more active in the visual arts/museum context. Manuel Pelmus represented Romania (together with Alexandra Pirici) at the -55th- Venice Biennale with the acclaimed project “An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale”. His works have been presented at the Van Abbe Museum – Eindhoven, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Moma Warsaw, Para/Site – Hong Kong, Centre Georges Pompidou , Museum M – Leuven, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, The Kiev Biennale, Bass Museum of Art Miami, The Off-Biennale – Budapest, Judson Church New York, De Singel Antwerp, Tate Liverpool, among others. Manuel Pelmus has been awarded the Berlin Art Prize for Performing Arts 2012 and the Excellence Award of the National Dance Center in Bucharest.

For more information visit: