Dr Laura Cuch
I’m a cultural geographer and visual artist interested in migration, urban communities and food cultures. My work involves photography, film and installation and contributes to urban studies, sociocultural research and media studies. It engages critiques of representation via posthuman materialist performativity and more-than-representational approaches to knowledge practices. I explore the affective and performative potential of visual and participatory methods for enacting new concepts, subjects, relationships and social realities. This often involves processes of collaboration with individuals and communities, through which the subjectivities of participants and the artist coemerge. This is key for how I approach phenomena that are fairly universal and highly personal at the same time. Structured around this tension, my work explores shared experiences by contrasting a plurality of specific cases, as well as through the interplay of image-making and biographical narratives.
Teaching and Supervision
I’m interested in supervising both thesis and practice-based PhDs on: communities, migration and food cultures; the relationship between photography, health, the body and processes of subjectivity; new materialisms, including material performativity, and; visual, creative and participatory research methods.
I convene the Cross-Platform Media Practice in BA Anthropology and Media and teach in:
I completed an AHRC funded practice-related PhD in Geography (UCL) exploring the relations between food, spirituality and everyday practices of faith communities in West London, selected to represent different faith and migration traditions. This involved the participatory arts project, Spiritual Flavours, including a cookbook, a 28’ film, and the photographic series Meals. The project won the International Visual Sociology Association Rieger Project Award (2020) and received recognition through exhibitions at Project8 Gallery in Melbourne (2022), the Tate Modern (2018), the Watermans Art Centre, London (2019), and the Festival of Political Photography in Helsinki (2017). The cookbook was launched at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, and the film has been screened in multiple venues after being shortlisted for the 2016 AHRC Research in Film Awards.
Previously, I investigated the relationship between Photography, Health and The Body in my portrait projects Sleepless (2008), No Ma (2009) and Trans (2011) about sleep deprivation, non-motherhood and organ transplantation respectively. These projects have been selected in multiple group shows and photo festivals, including Paraty Em Foco, Brazil (2015), Descubrimientos Photoespaña (2014), Fotonoviembre (2013), 'Surface of the Self' at Photofusion, London (2013), and Talent Latent, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica (2009). Additionally, my projects Gathering (2015) and The Best Place in The World (2005-2014), which focus on experiences of family and home, also gained public attention through international exhibitions and residencies.
My research builds on my interests in the visualisation of urban geographies, which I developed through commissioned work at the intersection of documentary, participatory arts practice and social research, often engaging diverse migrant communities. My work documenting Latin American and Bengali communities in London led to exhibitions at the Rix Mix and City University in London (2007).
Publications and research outputs
Cuch, Laura. 2020. AGNES’ recipe of Easter Żurek soup with blessed salt. Feast Journal, 3(2), 19. ISSN 2397-785X
Gilbert, David; Dwyer, Claire; Ahmed, Nazneen; Cuch, Laura and Hyacinth, Natalie. 2019. The hidden geographies of religious creativity: place-making and material culture in West London faith communities. Cultural Geographies, 26(1), pp. 23-41. ISSN 1474-4740
Guggenheim, Michael and Cuch, Laura. 2018. Encounter, create and eat the world: a meal (workshop). EASST Review, 37(4), pp. 31-33. ISSN 1384-5160
Cuch, Laura. 2018. Spiritual Flavours: Meals. Feast Journal, 2(4), 14. ISSN 2397-785X
Cuch, Laura. 2017. Arda’s Choreg Recipe. Feast Journal, 2(3), 4. ISSN 2397-785X
Gilbert, David; Cuch, Laura; Dwyer, Claire and Ahmed, Nazneen. 2015. The Sacred and the Suburban: Atmospherics, numinosity and 1930s interiors in Ealing, London. Interiors, 6(3), pp. 211-234. ISSN 2041-9112
Cuch, Laura. 2019. Spiritual Flavours.
Cuch, Laura. 2022. Spiritual Flavours: Reflections on using creative practice to explore food and religion in a multi-faith suburb. Doctoral thesis, University College London