History of Art


Gabriella Beckhurst

PhD supervisor: Dr Cadence Kinsey and Dr James Boaden (University of York)
Working title for PhD: 'Leave No Trace: Environment, Identity and Affect in Artists’ Video, Photography and Performance, 1970-2008'

My research concerns the junctures of US-based queer and feminist artistic practices with environmental and spatial politics after 1970. The thesis project examines how artists including David Wojnarowicz, Eleanor Antin and Stanya Kahn have used personae-led performance, video and photography to develop self-reflexive strategies that engage with how ecological consciousness is experienced. In particular, I ask how the use of personae critically dramatises sexual, gender and racialised codes within the US settler-colonial landscape, drawing attention to how land use policies and property rights are bound up in these terms. The thesis is organised around a set of sensibilities such as political impotence, improvisation and situational irony that have historically been deemed ineffectual within categories of environmental art. By proposing a method for understanding the coalitional aims and failures of these modes, I invite readers to reconsider how environmental artworks operate affectively and politically.


  • Review: David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night (London: Yale University Press, 2018, Sculpture Journal, 29.1, 2020, 95-99.
  • Essay: ‘Talking Trees of the Natural Order’, in the publication accompanying Claudia Comte: I Have Grown Taller from Standing with Trees Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen, 2019, 43-48.
  • Co-authored essay: ‘Dig Where You Stand’, in The Dispatch, published on the occasion of the 57th Carnegie International 2018, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2019, 110-123.
  • Essay: ‘The Talking Cinema of Barbara Hammer’, in Another Gaze, 03, 2019, 31-35.

Conference papers and presentations:

  • ‘”Solana Beach has become condo heaven”: Loser environmentalism in Eleanor Antin’s The King’, History of Art Graduate Symposium 2020, UCL, June 2020.
  • ‘Mucus Streams: Performing the undead in Martin O’Brien’s The Unwell’, presented on ‘Slowness & Suffering: Critical approaches to temporalities of violence’, Association for Art History (AAH) Annual Conference, University of Brighton, April 2019.
  • ‘Reading queer feminist environmentalism’, presented on ‘Lesbian Constellations: Feminism’s Queer Art Histories’, Association for Art History (AAH) Annual Conference, Courtauld Institute of Art and King’s College London, April 2018.

Media appearances/outreach work:

In a curatorial capacity, I have supported exhibitions and public programmes, including Dig Where You Stand curated by Koyo Kouoh for the 57th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2018-19), ZEITSPUREN: The Power of Now, Kunsthaus Pasquart, Biel (2019) and ATARAXIA, Salon Suisse, Swiss Arts Council–Pro Helvetia, Venice (2017). I am currently a curator of the 8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg 2022. 


  • UCL, Modern and Contemporary Art in London, Spring 2021
  • The Slade School of Fine Art, Critical Studies, Autumn 2020


  • Terra Foundation Research Travel Grant, July 2020
  • Terra Foundation Summer Residency, June-July 2020
  • IPS Fellowship at the Huntington Library, Pasadena, California, February-May 2020
  • AHRC Travel Grant to conduct research in the US, August-September 2018