Studentships and Pandemic Art

Notification about notifications: Many loyal readers of this blog will be used to getting all new posts conveniently delivered to their email inboxes. For the last few months that seems to have been happening less and less consistently, and I have a feeling that few if any subscribers are getting these any more. Despite valiant efforts on the part of Birkbeck’s IT services, it seems this can’t be fixed, and, very sadly, the subscription list seems to have vanished into a digital black hole. I’ll try my best to send it out to as many students and alumni as possible, but I’d appreciate any help in sending the link further to anyone who usually reads the blog or who might be interested. Thank you!

Anyway, I hope you’re all keeping well and safe, and that lockdown isn’t getting you down. Many congrats to all our BA students for getting through the new-look exams! Students will have seen my messages about what to expect next academic year: basically, all programmes continue in their full wonderfulness, remotely where necessary (i.e. most likely for the entirety of the Autumn term). We are delighted that applications are significantly up!

You will all have been following the worldwide protests for racial justice recently, and specifically those here in the UK focusing on monuments and the legacy of slavery and imperialism. We have groundbreaking research in this area going on in the department, and I hope to bring out a special blog post on these themes soon.

Meanwhile lots to draw your attention to:

We were thrilled to have a winner in the Birkbeck Student Union Awards 2020. Suzannah Biernoff, Reader in Visual Culture received the award for best dissertation supervisor in a very competitive field – warm congrats Suzannah! Congrats too to Kate Retford, Charlotte Ashby and Sean Willcock, who were all nominated in the Best Lecturer category.

For students applying to any of our MA programmes in the department, do consider also applying for a Wallace Studentship. There are two awards, covering fees and including a stipend, for full-time students in 2020-21. These are generously funded by Graham and Denise Wallace, and are aimed at excellent students who would not be able to study without financial support. Deadline for applications is June 26, 2pm.

Arts Weeks continues in online form, with lots of intriguing and engaging literary, art-related and other cultural events you can catch live or enjoy after the fact. Our own Mara Polgovsky-Ezcurra, Lecturer in Contemporary Art, has done a fascinating short video on an aspect of her research, the performative artist books created by Polish-Mexican artist Marcos Kurtycz (1934-1996).

The Centre for Museum Cultures has organised two super-relevant online events over the rest of June.

Come Hell or High Water: Managing Disasters in Museums on 25 June, 6pm, features Natasha McEnroe, Keeper of Medicine at the Science Museum, London, speaking about disaster planning for crises, large and small, and its crucial role in caring for museum collections.

Then on 30 June, 6pm, another live online event will feature the artist group Blast Theory, who, with unbelievable prescience, were artists in residence at the WHO and developed a fascinating piece in 2018 on pandemics, contagion, public health and politics.

More details and links for registration here.

Spit Spreads Death: the Parade by Blast Theory, Phildadelphia, September 28th 2019. Photo by Tivern Turnbull.

The Murray Seminar meets for the last time this term on 7 July, with Gabriele Neher giving a talk on Leonardo and cats (!). If you want to get all the details and be sent the registration link, please contact Laura Jacobus:

Our students have been busy and creative as always.

BA History of Art student Bianca Spaggiari, has contributed this article to the online magazine Mutual Art on Gustav Klimt and what his art can teach us about coping with fear and anxiety.

MA Museum Cultures student Akin Oladimeji has curated an online exhibition entitled ‘error’, featuring the artist Juls Gabs, at Unit 1 Gallery. Using Instagram filters (best viewed on a mobile or tablet), the exhibition deals with the theme of artifice and bending the truth. The four colourful, playful works focus on individuals who manipulate their image in order to enhance their social standing, much like many of us do on social media. The exhibition goes live on 18 June and continues to 4 July.