Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Dr Nicolas Helm-Grovas

Nicolas Helm-Grovas completed a PhD on the films and writings of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2018. His research looks at histories of radical cinema, experimental film and video, film theory and contemporary art. In 2020-21 he held a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and teaches Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth and Oxford Brookes University. Previously he taught Film Studies at King’s College London and Media Arts at Royal Holloway. His writing has appeared in Oxford Art Journal, Radical Philosophy, Moving Image Review & Art Journal and Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and Experimental Film in the 1970s (I.B. Tauris, 2017). In 2018 he was Jerwood Arts Writer in Residence. With Oliver Fuke he has co-curated the exhibitions ‘Art at the Frontier of Film Theory’ (Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, London, 2019) and ‘A is for Avant-Garde, Z is for Zero’ (Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, 2020).

Nicolas’s research at the IAS interrogated the roles of theoretical discourse and pedagogy in the production of cinema and contemporary art. This involved completing a book manuscript and further journal article based on his doctoral thesis. The book is focalised by seeing Mulvey and Wollen as instances of the ‘theorist-filmmaker’, a figure recurring throughout the history of experimental and radical cinema, from Sergei Eisenstein and Maya Deren to Hito Steyerl and the Otolith Group. The concepts of ‘metalanguage’ and ‘counter-cinema’ frame this study of Mulvey and Wollen’s work. In addition, the period at the IAS was used to begin to develop two further projects – an article on the writer and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha, and a longer book-length project investigating moving-image practices that seek to foster or create the conditions for political learning. The latter examines practices in a range of overlapping modes produced between the 1960s and 1980s, in North America, Latin America and Europe: DIY and community media projects, militant and agit-prop works, and reflexive, experimental documentaries.