Katja Hilevaara

Staff details

Katja Hilevaara


Senior Lecturer


Theatre and Performance


katja.hilevaara (@gold.ac.uk)

Katja Hilevaara is an artist, researcher and teacher who works in performance, installation and art-writing.

I am a collaborative artist, researcher and teacher, and I work in performance, installation and art-writing. Creative constraints such as tasks and instructions often shape my projects, both in performance and writing. I create work with other artists and thinkers, cherishing the chance to be inspired by dialogue and conversation. I am involved in a long-term collaboration with artist Emily Orley with whom I create performances and write.
My practice 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.

Academic qualifications

  • 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

I welcome PhD proposals in

  • Live Art and installation
  • Contemporary performance-making processes and practitioners
  • Art practice as research
  • Creative-critical writing (performative writing, art-writing, site-writing)

Research interests

I am a practitioner-researcher whose performance and installation works, as well as writing, explore ideas around memory, maintenance, care and enchantment. I also promote the value of practice research in the academy, and re-think 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, my 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.

My current project is inspired by the discovery of the remains of a young Finnish girl in a cave in Poland with the skull of a finch in her mouth. The Finch Girl is an interdisciplinary project encompassing archaeology, art, birdsong, feminist ecology, folklore, ornithology and speculative fiction and includes collaborators from the fields of science and history as well as artists and writers. Further details on https://www.katjahilevaara.com/the-finch-girl.

Publications and research outputs


Saner, Göze and Hilevaara, Katja. 2009. the world rests on a tortoise. In: "Let’s Murder the Moonshine: 100 Years of Futurism", Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom.


Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, E. 2015-2018 The Creative Critic and Selected Writings.

Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, Emily. 2018-2019 The Creative Critic Events.


Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, E. 2015. Making Making Matter: Paper as Paradox in Practice-as-Research. Ruukku: Studies in Artistic Research, 4,

Book Section

Hilevaara, Katja. 2025. Girlspeak. In: Julieanna Preston and Anna Brown, eds. Performing Punctuation. Bristol: Intellect.

Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, Emily. 2025. Raised by birds (Or: Flying with the bone mothers: the curious story of the girl with a bird in her mouth). In: Jessie Carson; Jodie Hawkes and Pete Phillips, eds. Mothers, Mothering, Land and Nature. Bradford, Ontario: Demeter Press.

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

Conference or Workshop Item

Hilevaara, Katja. 2024. 'An Experiment in Six Voices'. In: Conversing Otherwise at Out of Practice Seminar (Oops). School of Advanced Study, University of London, United Kingdom 28 May 2024.

Hilevaara, Katja; Orley, Emily; Chard, Jo; Henry, Susannah and Roche, Gilly. 2024. 'Holding the Line And Then Crossing It'. In: Midlands Conference in Critical Thought (MCCT): Gentle Gestures Stream. Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom 5 - 6 April 2024.

Hilevaara, Katja. 2024. 'Girlspeak in Six Voices: A performed reading'. In: Words and Worlds: Languages and Ecologies Symposium. Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom 22 March 2024.


Hilevaara, Katja. 2023. The Finch Girl Project.

Orley, Emily and Hilevaara, Katja. 2022. A Four and a Half Minute Manifesto for the Creative Critical.

Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, E. 2018. The Creative Critic Companion Site.

Edited Book

Hilevaara, Katja and Orley, E, eds. 2018. The Creative Critic: Writing As/About Practice. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978113867482 / 9781138674837

Professional projects

I am involved in a network of practitioner-researchers in the academy, working with creative-critical approaches to writing. I focus on challenging the false binaries that separate making and writing about making, and explore and experiment with creative ways to write alongside my own and others’ practice.

I also tutor 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 I regularly mentor artists and performance-makers.


I am a Senior Lecturer and I have worked at the Department of Theatre and Performance for over twenty years. I have held previous roles at Queen Mary, RCSSD, Roehampton and Kingston. My teaching specialisms include Live Art, visual performance, installation art and creative-critical writing. I also teach performing, devising, directing and dramaturgy, as well as theories of liveness and performance documentation.

I am 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.