Dr Kirsten Cooke

Staff details

Dr Kirsten Cooke






k.cooke (@gold.ac.uk)

Curatorial practice as research, politics of mediation and infrastructure space, queer ecologies

Kirsten’s research explores the way in which curating mediates and stages how we ‘know’, looking at exhibition environments to explore the space of infrastructure and queer ecologies.

Her practice situates curating alongside and in tension with artists through conversations that are rendered tangible in physical exhibition architectures. Recent exhibitions include Metabolic Markets (2021) and Snow Crash (2019). Metabolic Markets: A Dimensionally Diabolic Department, GIANT gallery (Bournemouth), activated the space of what was previously a Debenham’s department store to provide a destandardised encounter with art; reanimating the debris, such as mannequins, electrical shelving, and clothes racks, as modes of display. Snow Crash, IMT gallery (London), was built out of scaffolding materials to provide an infrastructure that could support as opposed to contain difference.

Kirsten is the curator of the newly launched Steam Works gallery

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Curatorial Practice, University of Reading 2016
  • MA Critical Writing and Curatorial Practice, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL 2009
  • BA Fine Art, Loughborough University 2007

Teaching and supervision

Kirsten has taught across BA, MA and PhD level internationally for over thirteen years. She joined Goldsmiths as a lecturer on the Graduate Diploma in Art in 2023, after previously teaching at the University of Reading and Birkbeck (UoL).

Her supervision interests are in curatorial practice, critical-fictional writing, decolonising exhibition practice, politics of mediation/infrastructure space, queering ecologies, posthumanism and trans-corporeality.

Research interests

Kirsten's current curatorial research project, Fluid Ground received the Goldsmiths' College PRDF award to produce alternative models for mapping our human relationship with the landscape, through a focus on hydrology, ecology, queer theory and forms of non-human embodiment and machine vision.

Fluid Ground explores our relationship to the planet through the medium of water. Recent artistic and curatorial practices’ that research water, have largely presented it either metaphorically, poetically, or transcendentally, but it has not been addressed to challenge our approaches to mapping. Contemporary approaches to mapping are still largely anthropocentric, colonial, patriarchal, and capitalist. Fluid Ground is a research project that aims to decolonise and queer cartography by curating and commissioning public outputs that produce immersive watery maps through exhibitions, workshops, performances, and publications. It addresses the global challenges of climate change on a subjective, local, and site-responsive scale, so that we feel connected to the planet rather than defeated by our contemporary context.

Published outputs:
'Damp Bodies Fluid Ground’, 3,000word chapter in the book GOT DAMP, published by TACO and launched in London and Dublin (Dec 2023).

‘A Slice of Fluid Ground’, 5,000word article in the peer reviewed internationally distributed publication, Journal of Writing as Creative Practice published by Intellect Books (Jan 2024).

'Aqueous Humours: Fluid Ground' (AHFG), a curatorial map in book form, which commissions artistic interpretations to Dorset waters. The Poor House Reading Rooms (Dorset), directed by Melanie Jackson, is publishing the book and hosting artist residencies (Nov 2023 – ongoing).

Previously to Fluid Ground, Kirsten authored three curatorial research projects: Material Conjectures, Concrete Plastic, and House of Hysteria.

Publications and research outputs

Book Section

Cooke, Kirsten. 2023. Damp Bodies: Fluid Ground. In: Louis Mason, ed. GOT DAMP: Avril Corroon. Thamesmead, London: TACO!, pp. 102-113. ISBN 9781838279271

Cooke, Kirsten and Harezlak, Ann. 2023. Transfictioning. In: Beatrice von Bismarck, ed. Archives on Show: Revoicing, Shapeshifting, Displacing – A Curatorial Glossary. Berlin: Archive Books, pp. 49-53. ISBN 9783948212916


Cooke, Kirsten. 2023. A Slice of Fluid Ground. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 16(2), pp. 199-213. ISSN 1753-5190

Conference or Workshop Item

Cooke, Kirsten. 2024. 'Aqueous Humours: Fluid Ground (Fluid Mapping)'. In: London Conference in Critical Thought: Watery Speculations stream. University of Greenwich, United Kingdom 28 - 29 June 2024.


Cooke, Kirsten. 2023 - ongoing Steam Works (Wanderscorde Woad Extractor).