I am a writer, artist, organiser and educator. I research the relationships between art and micropolitics: where the production of subjectivity becomes a crucial site for analysing and intervening in the reproduction of capitalism, imperialism, art and culture. I have worked in performance, video, installation, drawing, and public / site-based intervention. More recently, I have been focused on writing and co-producing workshops and research processes using various forms of participatory militant investigation.
I work individually and in the context of collectives situated between the fields of art, education and political organization and activism (including Micropolitics Research Group, Precarious Workers’ Brigade, and previously, Carrot Workers Collective and 16Beaver, New York). I am active in movements against free labour, precarity and exploitation in cultural work and universities, and the pedagogical, therapeutic and institutional ideologies that support its proliferation.
My approach is informed by autonomous Marxism, schizoanalysis, institutional analysis, materialist feminism and radical pedagogy. I hold a BA in Fine Art and Art History (NCAD Dublin); an MA in Cultural Studies (Leeds University); I completed the Whitney Independent Study Studio Programme (New York) in the late 1990s, and my PhD in Visual Cultures (Goldsmiths) in 2010.
I have just published 2 articles: ‘What is to be Done? Grammars of Organisation’ Deleuze Studies, April 2018; and ‘The Educational Turn in Art: Rewriting the Hidden Curriculum’ Performance Research, December 2016 with Janna Graham and Valeria Graziano. I gave a public lecture at the ICA London on the Micropolitics of Rehabilitation in January 2017 which is in preparation for an article publication; and I recently co-convened 3 events on Public Programming with Janna Graham and Valeria Graziano in Middlesex University (2016), Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery (2017) and Goldsmiths (2018). With the Precarious Workers Brigade I organized a 2-day assembly entitled ‘Culture and Work at Point Zero’ at Limehouse Townhall (April, 2018).
Three current areas of research include:
- Practices of Rehabilitation and the Government of the Self: In this project I look at the development of ‘jihadi rehabilitation’ camps in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere and their precursors in the anti-insurgency rehabilitation practices of former British colonies in Kenya and Malay. In these camps, we see fascinating explicit blueprints for the making and unmaking of political subjects at particular geopolitical conjunctures. If counter-insurgency is becoming the dominant mode of neoliberal governance today, this project looks at these practices as genealogies through which to explore a coming ‘practice of freedom’ beyond the government of the self.
- Micropolitics Research Group: This group (Susan Kelly, Janna Graham, Valeria Graziano, Paolo Plotegher, Cristina Ribas) explores international movements in anti-psychiatry, institutional analysis, social movements and art. The group hosts seminars and working sessions with visiting scholars and collectives, primarily from Latin America (Suely Rolnik USP Sao Paolo, 2008; Elizabeth Araujo Lima, USP 2008; and Colectivo Situaciones, Buenos Aries, 2009, Peter Pal Pelbart, USP Sao Paolo, 2014). Through the Art Department at Goldsmiths we have hosted Fabiane Borges, a doctoral fellow at USP, Sao Paolo in 2011; and year-long visiting researchers Professor Viviane Maximino, Federal University Sao Paulo (2016-17), and Professor Cristiane Mesquita, Anhembi Morumbi University, São Paulo (2018). Through these networks we explore the practical and institutional and modes in which theories of schizoanalysis, cartography and the thought of Félix Guattari have been taken up in Brazil and elsewhere, and how they might offer other models for approaching the crises in care, mental health, art and therapy in the UK today. The Micropolitics Research Group has also presented research at several study days on the theme of institutional analysis hosted by Nottingham Contemporary with an emerging network of researchers from Nottingham, Paris, Sao Paolo and London.
- Public Programming: Discourse and Education at the Post-Democratic Impasse: This collaborative research project with Janna Graham (Goldsmiths, Dept. Visual Cultures) and Valeria Graziano (Coventry University) explores how the democratic and critical bases of publicly produced culture and debate are becoming undone, caught in the paradoxes of post-democratic institutions and under the pervasive push of event economies. We explore the histories of 'public programming’ in use at least since the 1990s, as a framework to speak about pedagogical initiatives across various public cultural institutions and its legacies in gallery education, new institutionalism, and radical social forums. We look to histories of radical pedagogy, public pedagogy and work-based education as genealogies for a militant practices of education in culture today. Three public seminars based on this research have been convened at Middlesex University (2016), Notthingham Contemporary (2017) and Goldsmiths College (2018) with guest speakers from the UK and across Europe. We are currently preparing a book manuscript on this research as well as an edited collection of essays and interviews.
- PhD Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, London (2010)
- Whitney Independent Study Studio Programme, New York (1999)
- MA Cultural Studies, University of Leeds (1998)
- BA Fine Art (Painting) with History of Art, National College of Art and Design, Dublin (1997)
I am currently teaching Critical Studies on the BA Fine Art Programme at undergraduate level. I coordinate Year 1; teach a course entitled ‘Art and Politics After the Crisis’ at Year 2 and supervise 12+ student dissertations at Year 3. I supervise and co-supervise PhD students and contribute occasional lectures and seminars for MA in Culture Industries in Dept of Media and Communications.
From 2006-2016 I was co-programme leader (studio practice) for the BA Fine Art and History of Art, a Joint Honours Degree run between the Department of Art and the Department of Visual Cultures. Before this, I contributed to undergraduate teaching on the BA and MA Art History in Visual Cultures as a postgraduate Teaching Assistant, and to Critical Studies on BA Textiles in the Art Department.
Prior to Goldsmiths, I taught at the University of Ulster, Belfast (2015-16) where I co-developed an MA Programme in Art and Public Space and I taught at TTVO School of Art and Media, Tampere, Finland (2012-13). I have done many guest lectures and seminars at institutions such as Art Academy Helsinki, St Joost AVANS Academy, Holland; Valand Academy, Gothenberg; Art Academy Umea, Sweden, Vienna University of Technology, and I taught a semester long course entitled ‘’Jurisdictions: An Investigation into the Micropolitics & Topologies of Space’ at the Institute of Architectural Theory, University of Innsbruck, Summer Semester 2012.
Publications and research outputs
Kelly, Susan. 2012. Against Critical Content: Transversality and the Micropolitics of the Intervention. In: Altés Arlandis Alberto and Lieberman Oren, eds. Intervention, Duration, Effects. Umeå, Sweden: University of Umeå, ---. ISBN -
Kelly, Susan. 2010. The Centrifugal Book of Europe: A Partial Guide to the Micropolitics and Material Conditions of a Project. In: , ed. The Centrifugal Book of Europe. Belfast: Centrifugal, Belfast, pp. 59-73. ISBN 978-0-955-6395-1-7
Kelly, Susan. 2009. Medium. In: Lynette Hunter and Shannon Rose Riley, eds. Mapping Landscapes in Performance as Research: Scholarly Acts and Creative Cartographies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 142-144. ISBN 13-978-0-230-22219-9
Kelly, Susan. 2006. Communities of the Question. In: Will Bradley; Mika Hannula; Cristina Ricupero and Superflex, eds. Self-Organisation/Counter Economic Strategies. Superflex, Sternberg Press, pp. 233-279. ISBN 1933128135
Graham, Janna; Graziano, Valeria and Kelly, Susan. 2016. The Educational Turn in Art : Rewriting the hidden curriculum. Performance Research, 21(6), pp. 29-35. ISSN 1352-8165
Kelly, Susan and Morton, S.. 2003. What is to be Done? Questions for the 21st Century. In: "What is to be Done? Questions for the 21st Century", The Lenin Museum, 2/22/2003 - 4/21/2003.
Kelly, Susan and Graham, Janna, eds. 2017. Training for Exploitation?: Politicising Employability and Reclaiming Education by Precarious Workers Brigade. Foreword: Silvia Federici. London: Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Press. ISBN 9780615590110
Kelly, Susan. 2009. Micropolitics and Transversality: Language, Subjectivity, Organisation and Contemporary Arts Practice. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London