PhD Thesis: Curating the Co-Inquiry

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Art and Intervention in the Stewardship of the Planetary Commons: Towards a Curatorial Model of Co-Inquiry. PhD by Published Work. Nicola Triscott, 2017.
Background: Industrial landscape, Thames Estuary by Scott Wylie

I was recently awarded a PhD by Published Work from the University of Westminster, and – because of several requests – I’m putting Volume 1 of my thesis (the extended commentary) online. I’m not uploading the extensive portfolio of published works, which includes exhibition documentation – much of which is available on the Arts Catalyst‘s website – and several texts and books (some of which are published on my blog, others which cannot yet be published online for copyright reasons).

My PhD thesis, Art and Intervention in the Stewardship of the Planetary Commons: Towards a Curatorial Model of Co-inquiry, proposes a curatorial methodology of interdisciplinary co-inquiry, which can foster an ecology of practices, enabling curators, artists, scientists, specialist experts and people with situated expertise to coproduce knowledge around shared matters of concern. The model reconfigures curatorial practice as a collective, inquiry-driven, knowledge-producing practice, and provides a methodology for inter-/trans-disciplinary research. I situate this within a tactical and interpretative framework of the planetary commons and planetary commoning practices, drawing on the past decade of my work at Arts Catalyst with artists and scientists within common and extraterritorial realms, including the deep seas, biodiversity, the atmosphere, the Polar Regions, and outer space.

The projects that I chose specifically to examine in my PhD are drawn from a body of collaborative curatorial work at Arts Catalyst: Malamp UK, Brandon Ballengée (2007-2010); Arctic Perspective Initiative (2009-2011); ITACCUS – IAF Technical Activities Committee on the Cultural Utilisation of Space – and associated activities (2007-2014); Holoturian, Ariel Guzik (2013-2015); and Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble, et al. (2013-2016).

Download thesis: NTriscott_PhDCommentary_Final

The PhD process has been really brilliant for me (shout out to my supervisor, Professor Tom Corby, in Westminster’s Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM)) in enabling me to identify and articulate the drivers and some of the key ideas underlying my practice, and so provide a clear direction for my future research and practice.

With the Arts Catalyst team, I am currently developing a series of extended co-inquiries, Test Sites to engage artists, scientists and communities in different parts of the UK in responding to complex environmental issues at a local level – such as flooding, water quality, pollution, species loss and climate change – and exploring and understanding the interrelationships with health, wellbeing, local culture and ecology.

My new curatorial inquiry Radical Ancestry brings together artists, scientists, anthropologists, thinkers and publics to examine contemporary understandings and imaginaries of race and migration, and critique the categorisation of race in contemporary science and politics.



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