I am a specialist in contemporary art, with particular interests in performance, audience participation, conceptualism, institutional critique, and the relationship between art and urban space. My work concentrates temporally on the 1970s and 1980s, with geographic foci in North America and in the former Yugoslavia and its successor states.
My first book, Asking the Audience: Participatory Art in 1980s New York, appeared with the University of Minnesota Press in 2017. Asking the Audience revolves around the question of how audiences can exercise agency in participatory art, and the related historiographic problem of how art historians can recover those types of agency. The book takes up the case studies of art collaborative Group Material’s Democracy and feminist artist Martha Rosler’s If You Lived Here…, two projects held at the Dia Art Foundation in New York in 1988-89, which were early instances of the type of institutionally based participatory art now ubiquitous in contemporary art practice. These projects involved exhibitions on pressing social and political issues such as homelessness, gentrification, public schooling, and the AIDS crisis, and also brought members of the public together for “town hall” discussions on these topics. The book looks at different intersecting levels of meaning-making in the projects, from their role in crafting a new organizational identity for Dia, to the collaborations between artists and activists that they involved. Through my analysis, affect emerges as key to understanding the agency that audience members exercise in a participatory artwork.
My second major project addresses the relationship between art and public space in Zagreb, in the former Yugoslavia, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The period on which I focus was one in which artists combined public engagement in city spaces with critical practices that reflected a disillusionment with the public sphere. The study focuses on practitioners from the conceptualist generation known as the New Artistic Practice (Nova umjetnička praksa), and in particular on the Group of Six Authors (Grupa šestorice autora). It aims to contribute to a greater understanding of the diverse modalities of artists’ engagement with public space in the 20th century, and in particular of the ways in which experimental artists approached the public sphere in formerly socialist and communist Europe.
After obtaining my PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2013, I held a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoc at McGill University, before coming to the University of Washington. My teaching at UW encompasses introductory to advanced courses that familiarize students with the extant narratives of art history of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, while also empowering them to challenge those stories and explore beyond their boundaries. My classes emphasize close looking and analysis over universal coverage, and seek out points of contact and contradiction between art history and neighboring humanities and social science disciplines. I greatly value the role of student dialogue in my classroom and am committed to ongoing experimentation concerning how to make that dialogue as useful, exciting and accessible as possible.
I have published other articles on global contemporary art in journals including Representations, Camera Obscura, Third Text, and Performance Research, a number of which you can download from my academia.edu page.