Katja Hilevaara is a collaborative artist, researcher and teacher who works in performance, installation and art-writing. Creative constraints such as tasks and instructions often shape her projects, both in performance and writing. Katja creates work with other artists and thinkers, cherishing the chance to be inspired by dialogue and conversation. She is involved in a long-term collaboration with artist Emily Orley with whom she creates performances and writes.
Katja's practice as research engages with (auto)biography and re-imagined histories, exploring ways to tell stories that question and challenge existing narratives, and which might deliberately mis-remember or otherwise creatively interpret events to shift their perspective and meaning.
- PhD in Drama (Queen Mary University of London) 2015
- MA in Performance (Queen Mary University of London) 2008
- BA (Hons) Drama and Theatre Arts (Goldsmiths University of London) 1998
Teaching and Supervision
Katja is a practitioner-researcher whose performance and installation works, as well as writing, explore ideas around memory, maintenance, care and enchantment. She also promotes the value of practice research in the academy, and re-thinks the conventions of the scholarly ‘output’ to propose that critical writing be understood as an integral part of the artistic process, and even an artwork in its own right. As well as this creative-critical approach to research, preserving in writing the creative drive that inspires the artwork in the first place, Katja’s recent research projects have also focused on task-based performance practice, experimenting with constraints as ‘creative enablers’ that focus the artist’s attention; and ‘calls to action’ that invite the active participation of others.
Katja’s current project is inspired by the discovery of the remains of a young Finnish girl in a cave in Poland with the head of a finch in her mouth. The Finch Girl is an interdisciplinary project encompassing mythology, anthropology, ornithology, Finnish music and folk tales, paintings and ancient burial rites and includes collaborators from the fields of science and history as well as artists and writers.
Publications and research outputs
Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, E. 2015. Making Making Matter: Paper as Paradox in Practice-as-Research. Ruukku: Studies in Artistic Research, 4,
Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, E. 2018. An Introduction in Five Acts. In: Katja Hilevaara and E Orley, eds. The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978113867482 / 9781138674837
Hilevaara, Katja. 2016. Orange Dogs and Memory Responses: Creativity in Spectating and Remembering. In: Matthew Reason and Anja-Molle Lindelof, eds. Experiencing Liveness in Contemporary Performance: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 34-47. ISBN 9780367513566
Further profile content
The Creative Critic: Writing As/About Practice (co-edited with Emily Orley)
This book is built around a diverse selection of writings from researcher-practitioners celebrating the range of possibilities available when writing about art.
‘Orange Dogs and Memory Responses: Creativity in Spectating and Remembering’ in Experiencing Liveness in Contemporary Performance, pp34-47
Katja’s chapter engages in the dismantling and reconfiguring the discourse of liveness in performance, and provocatively foregrounds the memorial experience as a valid form of critique.
Katja is involved in a network of practitioner-researchers in the academy, working with creative-critical approaches to writing. She focuses on challenging the false binaries that separate making and writing about making, and explores and experiments with creative ways to write alongside her and others’ practice.
Katja also tutors biannual courses on performance art practice titled 'Rules of the Game: Introduction to task-based performance and art', for international online teaching and research platform, ECC Performance Art since 2020, and she regularly mentors artists and performance-makers.
Katja is a Senior Lecturer and has worked at the Department of Theatre and Performance for over twenty years. She has held previous roles at Queen Mary, RCSSD, Roehampton and Kingston. Katja’s teaching specialisms include Live Art, visual performance, installation art and creative-critical writing. She also teaches performing, devising, directing and dramaturgy, as well as theories of liveness and performance documentation.
She is currently the director of the international MA Performance Making at Goldsmiths where students explore and experiment with live, digital, intermedial and socially and politically engaged performance. On this MA, performance-making is a mode of enquiry that considers performance as a strategy to think about art, culture and the contemporary world. This practice-as-research approach is embedded throughout the programme.