Institute of Archaeology


Cecilie Gravesen - Honorary Research Associate

Cecile Gravesen
  • Honorary Research Associate
  • MA
  • Email: c.gravesen@ucl.ac.uk
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

My artwork considers material culture as a vehicle for social transformation and looks at ritual, belief and knowledge production. I have focused on objects of worship, especially on imbued sacred objects stored in western museums, and how these may bring attention to the legacy of colonialism by obliging the museum to engage with its source communities. I am driven by an interest in the seeming dichotomy between science and spirituality, and my various roles as artist observer on conservation projects consider the philosophical implications of material culture preservation.

I want to test how artistic interpretation can function as a catalyst for questioning our assumptions, and how the artist can operate in dialogue with other professions: With those who breathe life into an object, those who consume it for ritual purposes, who analyse it scientifically or preserve it for an imagined eternity.

My films and installations have considered the UK Maori meetinghouse Hinemihi and the conservation of an Ainu quiver at the Pitt Rivers Museum. An interactive audio play commissioned for the Crafts Council developed in dialogue with the Institute of Archaeology looks at museum handling collections and the healing potential of heritage objects, featuring a selection of objects from the private archaeological collection of Peter Ucko (former director of the Institute). In my current capacity of Artist-in Residence with the Curating the City Research cluster, I consider ways in which artists can activate hidden heritage sites.

My parallel curatorial projects likewise test how artists might intervene with heritage and archives.

Research Interests

My research interests are in the field of experimental and anthropological film theory, post-colonial studies with inspiration from indigenous, feminist and queer scholars, cultural appropriation, migration, community, critical heritage, the importance of ritual and the constructed meanings of place.

  • Artist-in Residence with the Curating the City Research cluster: UCL (Dean Sully and Clare Melhuish) and University of Gothenburg (Henric Benesch and Ingrid Holmberg). The cluster focuses on urban heritage, exploring the dilemmas faced by academics and practitioners, specialists and laypeople, policy makers and citizens alike when it comes to negotiating the relationship between the urban past, present and future. My artistic research considers ways artists activation of hidden heritage sites, and involves The House Mill in Bow.
  • Collaboration with Dean Sully and Carmen Vida on commissioned artwork 'Play for Handling Collection' for the UK Crafts Council.

Selected recent publications

Selected recent presentations

  • CGP Gallery, London, UK, #33 Annual Open Exhibition, 2017
  • Museum Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway, Dive, 2017
  • Art Museum of Nanjing (AMNUA), Nanjing, China, Nanjing: Remake, 2016
  • The Hospital Club, Crafts Council, London, UK, Crafting Narratives, 2016
  • Camden Arts Centre, London, artist's film in focus 2014
  • Pitzhanger Manor, Crafts Council, London, UK, Crafting Narratives, 2014
  • Arcade Gallery, London, Politics, 2013
  • Pitt Rivers Museum, screening, University of Oxford, 2013
  • University of Gothenburg, School of Global Studies, conference 'Memory Acts', 2013
  • Royal College of Art, symposium Critical Writing in Art & Design,'The Object as Actor', 2013
  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, presentation, 2012
  • University of Aberystwyth, Wales, conference Sharing Conservation Decisions, 2011
  • ICON Ethnography group, seminar 'Conservation and Source Communities', 2011
  • Maori Architecture Symposium Nga Aho Gisborne, (with Anthony Hoete and What! Architecture) 2010