My work involves photography, film and installation, and is driven by research processes informed by social sciences, including cultural geography, urban studies, sociology and media. In particular, it engages with critiques of representation via post-human materialist performativity and more-than-representational approaches to forms of knowing. I explore the affective and performative potential of visual practices for enacting new concepts, subjects, relationships and social realities. This often involves processes of collaboration with individuals and communities, through which the subjectivities of the participants and the artist are co-constituted. 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 at different creative stages.
Teaching and Supervision
I’m interested in supervising both thesis and practice-based PhDs with a focus on communities, food cultures, the relationship between photography, health, the body and processes of subjectivity, new materialisms including material performativity, as well as visual and creative research methods.
I convene the Cross Platform Media Practice (BA Anthropology and Media) and teach in the programmes:
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. This involved the participatory arts project, Spiritual Flavours, including a cookbook, a 28’ film, the photographic series Meals, and the Spiritual Flavours Spice Lab. The project won an International Visual Sociology Association Rieger Project Award (2020) and received recognition through exhibitions at the Tate Modern (2018), the Festival of Political Photography: Post Food in Helsinki (2017), and a solo show at the Watermans Art Centre, London (2019). The Spiritual Flavours book was launched at The Photographers’ Gallery bookshop 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 trilogy of 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), Atlántica Colectivas in Fotonoviembre (2013), Surface of the Self, Photofusion, London (2013), and Talent Latent, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica (2009). 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.
These projects build 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 urban 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
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. 2022. Spiritual Flavours: Reflections on using creative practice to explore food and religion in a multi-faith suburb. Doctoral thesis, University College London