Gabriela Nicolescu is an anthropologist and curator who is interested in what visual and material culture perspectives can bring to migration studies, political economy, and the anthropology of health; museums and museum practices; and the history of social sciences, especially in European space. She has conducted extensive ethnographic work in Romania, Italy and the UK on the shifting relations between politics and representation, the diffusion and social organization of cultural ideas, and notions of care work. Gabriela has curated and co-curated multiple international exhibitions, including Beyond Myself (2017-2018, Goldsmiths College, London, Hong Kong (date and place to be confirmed) and The Vargas Museum, Manila (14 February – 31March 2018), Austerity Bites: Food Stories from Lewisham (2015, Goldsmiths College, London), Revisiting Romania: Dress and Identity (2014-2016, Horniman Museum, London), Forging Folklore, Disrupting Archives (2014, Constance Howard Gallery, London), Connections: Objects in Relation and Context (2012, The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest), Realismus versus Realitaat (2006, Museum of Young Art, Vienna) and Domestic Red (2004, Hag Gallery and the Biennale of the Young Artist, Bucharest).
Museum Blog: http://muzeu.blogspot.co.uk
Gabriela Nicolescu is currently tutor for the course ‘General Principles of Social Anthropology’, and co-convenes with Mark Johnson, Charlotte Joy and Deirdre McKay the research seminar series ‘Curating Development’ at the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths.
Between 2015 and 2017 Gabriela taught ‘Anthropological Perspectives on Tourism’, ‘Methods of Research’, and convened the direct tutoring class ‘Advancing your Anthropology’.
In 2015–2016, Gabriela convened the ‘Economies of Care and Social Reproduction’ research seminar series at the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College, funded by the Wellcome Trust. She also co-convened with Caterina Sartori the ‘Care on Display’ film series and round table at the Royal Anthropological Institute, UK (https://therai.org.uk/events-calendar/past-events/eventdetail/423/-/care-on-display).
Between 2012 and 2015, Gabriela taught ‘Economics, Politics and Social Change’, ‘Anthropology of Art’ and ‘Visual Anthropology’.
Gabriela has delivered lectures at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford (May 2016), the University of Manchester (October 2015), UCL (February 2015), Goldsmiths College (October 2012), and the University of Bucharest (March 2012).
Gabriela has also taught graduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Bucharest.
As part of her ‘Advancing your Anthropology’ sessions, Gabriela contributed to the supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Anthropology and in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship.
Gabriela Nicolescu has conducted research in Romania, Italy, the UK and Hong Kong on the shifting relations between politics and representation, the diffusion and social organization of cultural ideas, and notions and materializations of care work.
Curating and Visualizing Domestic Care Work
Gabriela is currently working on the project ‘Curating Development: Filipina Migrants’ Investments in the Philippines’ Future’, developed together with Mark Johnson (Goldsmiths) and Deirdre McKay (Keele) and funded by an AHRC Development Grant. The project investigates the social and economic life of personal possessions and remittances sent by Filipino migrants working in London and Hong Kong to the Philippines. Gabriela is conducting interdisciplinary ethnographic research, workshops and curatorship practices with Filipino migrant domestic workers and artists. She focuses on the transnational social, economic and wellbeing consequences of migrant domestic care work, asking how these often sensitive issues can be represented in visual forms and participatory ways, and presented to a diverse public. This work will result in a series of visual products, including the itinerant exhibition Beyond Myself, which will be displayed in London (2017-2018), Hong Kong (2018) and Manila (2018).
The Rewards of Endurance in Migrant Care Work for the Elderly in Southeast Italy
This project reflected Gabriela’s interest in the work of care, the anthropology of health and the political economy of transnational care. The project consisted of one year’s ethnographic work in the region of Puglia, southeast Italy. Gabriela combined conventional ethnography with multi-participatory methods, which included organizing an exhibition and an event, curated together with people she worked with. She focused on the material and sensorial aspects of domestic care work. The outcome of this work was funding from the Wellcome Trust to organize the seminar series ‘Economies of Care and Social Reproduction’ at the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths (2015-2016), two academic articles (one currently under review), and a forthcoming panel, ‘Exhibiting Anthropology beyond Museum Collections’, at the British Museum (2018).
Exploring Austerity through Changing Foodscapes in a London Borough
Austerity strikes in highly unequal ways. The project ‘Communities, Resilience and Austerity: A Cultural Exploration of Changing Foodscapes in a South London Borough’ explored one of the most important ways in which communities in the borough of Lewisham were affected by the 2008 economic crisis and the austerity measures to follow. For this short project, developed by Goldsmiths College and the AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund, Gabriela conducted ethnographic research with community members and engaged with educators and parents from a local school. As a result of this work, Gabriela curated, together with Henrike Donner and Dominique Santos, the exhibition Austerity Bites: Food Stories in Lewisham, Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths College, 23 May–7 June 2016.
The Art and Politics of Display in Modern Romania
Gabriela’s doctoral research explored the objectification of people through museographic discourse and politics at two moments of abrupt political change in modern Romanian history. The first moment was the time following the establishment of the Communist regime in 1946. Gabriela examined the radical transformations of people, institutions and meanings by focusing on objects in museum collections and display, especially ethnographic artefacts. The second moment of change was the fall of the Communist regime in December 1989 and the early years of post-Communism. Gabriela explored this tumultuous period by tracing the establishment and early evolution of a key cultural institution, the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest. Her research revealed the intertwined stories of two competing visual discourses in the museum; the convoluted stories of museum practices, work patterns and values ascribed to labour by both workers and visitors; and the successive contestations of ethnographic objects in museum collections and displays. In her work, all these themes represent powerful markers of continuity and change in wider Romanian society.
On ruination: piercing the skin of communism in 1990s Romania
Nicolescu, Gabriela. 2017. On ruination: piercing the skin of communism in 1990s Romania. World Art, ISSN 2150-0894
Decorativa: The Monopoly of Visual Production in Socialist Romania. The Centralized Organization of Museum Displays in the 1960s and 1970s
Nicolescu, Gabriela. 2016. Decorativa: The Monopoly of Visual Production in Socialist Romania. The Centralized Organization of Museum Displays in the 1960s and 1970s. The Journal of Design History, 29(1), pp. 71-87. ISSN 0952-4649
Art, Politics and the Museum: Tales of continuity and rupture in modern Romania
Nicolescu, Gabriela. 2015. Art, Politics and the Museum: Tales of continuity and rupture in modern Romania. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London