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Edward Christie

PhD supervisors: Professor Robert Mills (History of Art) and Professor Mark Maslin (Geography)
Working title for PhD: 'Mobilising Post-War (Anti-)Modern Art History Against the Climate Crisis'

Through my doctoral project, I am working to reform post-war modern art history in the light of critical discourse on the environment, which has proliferated in recent years with the wide acceptance of the Anthropocene thesis and the popularisation of climate activism. Fundamentally, I ask the following question: ‘What would it mean to interrogate post-war modern art history through the prism of a contemporary environmentalist perspective?’. My answers centre on the conviction that art history essentially involves the critical analysis and transformation of the conditions of subjectivity as expressly manifested in artworks, and that an environmentalist approach to the discipline could therefore point towards fundamental and holistic means of responding to the climate crisis. To fulfil this potential, I advocate anti-modern art history: the rejection of the discipline’s multitudinous, entrenched ties to the modern system, and the prioritisation of socio-environmental ethical praxis within the subject.  

Research interests

Environmentalism and political ecology; the political agency of art history; radical philosophy; post-war modern art; anachronism; interdisciplinary collaborations between the arts and sciences.

Publications 

Conference papers and presentations: 

Media appearances/outreach work 

UCL Anthropocene, Project Coordinator.

  • UCL Anthropocene works as a virtual school by assembling projects, people, courses, and events from across the social sciences, arts, humanities, life, environmental, and health sciences to articulate and address the problems that the Anthropocene poses for our collective future.
  • Among events I have organised for the initiative, on Tuesday 17th November 2020 I will be hosting a forum on ‘Contemporary Art in the Anthropocene’.

Environment Domain Early-career Network (EDEN), Co-chair.

  • The Environment Domain Early Career Network (EDEN) provides support to researchers in the early stages of their career in environmental research at UCL.
  • Through my work with EDEN I have been promoting interdisciplinary discourse on environmental issues between early-career UCL academics from arts and sciences backgrounds.

Reforming Anatomy, Co-founder.

  • Reforming Anatomy is a research network focused on examining the human body through the lenses of contemporary art and medicine.
  • After the pandemic, we will resume our series of conferences for The Royal Society of Medicine to explore the question of ‘What is Health?’ – considering its mental, social, and environmental dimensions; and critically weaving together how it is defined by medical professionals and artists, in order to reach a synthesised and more objective understanding of wellbeing.

Past Imperfect Seminar, Steering Group Member.

  • Past Imperfect is a visual culture seminar based in the History of Art Department at UCL. We share concerns with the past and its place in the present, a present increasingly overinvested in the value of the contemporary. 
  • I took a leading role in developing last year’s programme, which was centred on the theme of ‘Activation’. Among events, I helped to organise a series of short talks on the relationship between art and protest movements, for which I gave a presentation on how contemporary documentary artists are responding to extractivist crimes in Latin America. 

Teaching 

  • Postgraduate Teaching Assistant. Undergraduate Dissertation Coordinator. September 2019—July 2020.

Awards 

  • My PhD is fully funded by one of UCL’s Graduate Research Scholarships.