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Dr Hélia Marçal

 

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Dr Hélia Marçal

Hélia Marçal is Lecturer in History of Art, Materials and Technology. Prior to this appointment, she was the Fellow in Contemporary Art Conservation and Research of the research project Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum, at Tate, London (2018-2020). She is the Coordinator of the Working Group on Theory, History and Ethics of Conservation of the Committee for Conservation of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-CC) since 2016.

Her current research interests are positioned within feminist new materialisms, material histories of activist artworks, ethics and performativity of cultural heritage, the conservation of time-based media and performance art, and both the materiality of contemporary art and the ways it is positioned and negotiated by museum, heritage, and conservation practices. Drawing on feminist epistemological lenses, she often explores issues of performativity, participation, partiality, and positionality in both her research and teaching. 

She has published about conservation theory and ethics, embodied memories and the body-archive, and public policies of participation and stewardship of cultural heritage, having been awarded the Taylor & Francis and ICON Outstanding Contribution Award in 2017. Her recent book project looks at current forms of activist performance to interrogate the wider politics of conservation of cultural heritage in the public sphere.


Contact Details

Office: 303, 20 Gordon Square

Office hours: Mondays 15.00-16.00 and Thursdays 11.00-12.00. Please book a slot here

Email: h.marcal@ucl.ac.uk


Appointment

Lecturer in History of Art, Materials and Technology

Department of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS


Research Themes

Materiality in the conservation of time-based media and performance art; feminist new materialisms; ethics and performativity of cultural heritage; notions of periphery/decentring, inclusions/exclusions, in material art histories and conservation

Art, Design & Architecture
Cultural Understanding
Heritage, History & Cultures
Materials

Research


Research Summary

Hélia’s primary research project was developed during her doctoral project (awarded in 2018), which proposed an epistemological framework for the exhibition and care of participatory activist performance art. She argued for a relational ontology of conservation that focused on researching the means of production of the works and engaging multiple stakeholders in the creation of historical-material narratives about artworks. In this process, she has proposed an epistemological framework for rethinking material heritages practices in the public sphere, arguing for participation and authority diffraction to move towards more just heritage and museumification, and highlighting the potential role of museums and cultural practices in decentring historiographies of art, culture, and politics. 

Prior to her appointment at UCL, she was researcher in the project Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum (2018-2020). Her work focused on how museum practices and artworks are constructed through interactions between people, artworks, technology, and infrastructures. In developing that research strand, she interrogated not only the material constitution of artworks, museums, and agencies, but also ethics of becoming art in the museum, and the ecologies of memory needed to safeguard artworks and objects across cultures of preservation. The project’s case-studies included performance artworks, digital art, multimedia installations, archival materials, and community-led performances. While at Tate, she was also involved in the project Documentation and Conservation of Performance.

Her current research interests continue to draw on feminist new materialisms to examine material histories of activist artworks and the negotiation of ethics and performativity of cultural heritage in the public sphere. This is the topic of her recent book project, which explores current forms of activist performance to interrogate the wider politics of conservation of cultural heritage.

She has published about conservation theory and ethics, embodied memories and the body-archive, and public policies of participation and stewardship of cultural heritage, having been awarded the Taylor & Francis and ICON Outstanding Contribution Award in 2017. She has edited two volumes on performance art: Portuguese Performance Art, a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Revista de História da Arte (2017), and the book Práticas de Arquivo em Artes Performativas [Archival Practices in the Performing Arts], published by Coimbra University Press in 2019. Her articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Performance Research, Museum Management and Curatorship, or Journal of the Institute of Conservation, and peer-reviewed conference proceedings such as the Preprints of the International Council of Museums – Committee for Conservation.


Research Activities

Hélia sits in the editorial board of the Journal of the Institute of Conservation and has reviewed articles for several peer-reviewed journals in the fields of visual arts and performing arts, museums and heritage studies. Her research contributes to (and is influenced by) her work as Coordinator of the Working Group on Theory, History and Ethics of Conservation of the Committee for Conservation of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-CC). 

Hélia is an invited expert in projects in Germany, Belgium, and Portugal. She is an associated member of the Art History Institute (NOVA University of Lisbon), being directly involved in the research group Museum Studies and in the cluster Art, Museums, and Digital Cultures, and is also a member of ACHS, ICON, and ICOM.

Publications 

Selected Publications 

This is a list of selected publications. For a full and up-to-date list of publications, please consult Hélia’s IRIS profile

EDITED VOLUMES
JOURNAL ARTICLES
Chapters in books
  • [Co-authored with Daniela Salazar] “Political-timing specific performance art in the realm of the Museum: the potential of re-enactment as practice of memorialisation”, in OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, Re-Enactment Strategies in Contemporary Arts and Theory, ICI Berlin (forthcoming 2020) 
  • [Co-authored with Andreia Nogueira, Isabel Pires, and Rita Macedo] “Connecting practices of preservation: exploring authenticities in contemporary music and performance art”, in Authenticity in Transition: Changing Practices in Contemporary Art Making and Conservation, ed. by Erma Hermens and Frances Robertson, 117-127, London: Archetype Lda, 2016.
Peer-reviewed conference proceedings
REPORTS
DIGITAL RESOURCES

Teaching and Supervision

Hélia has taught several courses in both Portugal and the United Kingdom. During the academic year 2020-2021, Hélia is teaching the following courses in the BA History of Art, Materials and Technology

She would be interested to hear from potential postgraduate students that wish to develop their research in the areas of material art histories, conservation of contemporary, time-based media, and performance art, ethics and performativity of cultural heritage. Potential applicants should contact Hélia directly via email.