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Catalina Imizcoz

Cultural and Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

Modernity and the Exhibitionary Form

The birth of the art exhibition as a cultural form is coetaneous with the 18th-19th century dawn of European modernity. Given these shared and entangled roots, can the exhibitionary form be used to critique modernity as a socio-cultural phenomenon? 

The exhibition is recognized as both the main mediator of contemporary art (Ferguson et al., 1996; Steeds, 2014) and a site for the production of art history (Altschuler, 1994). At the same time, modernity is seen to persist as the ‘dominant frame’ (Bhambra, 2007) and ‘instrument’ (Mignolo and Walsh, 2018) of Western sociopolitical thought. The relationship between modernity and the exhibition is thus a pressing contemporary cultural concern.

Guiding my analysis is the question of how a critique of the modern worldview transpires into, and constitutes a demand for, a fundamental change to the exhibitionary form. By contributing a new perspective on the exhibition as an ideological infrastructure this research will also question the Western-centric foundations of Exhibition Studies as a young field. The theoretical proposition that modernity remains an underlying worldview will be redeployed as a grounded argument for a fundamental reconfiguration of how exhibitions are defined, curated, analysed and historicised.

Research Area

  • Cultural and Museum Studies


‘El Pintor Gordín en el ICI’, Kunstlicht (Amsterdam, vol 38 no 3, 2017)

‘The Multiplex Texture of ramona’, Third Text (London, vol 30 issue 4, 2017)

‘Fieldwork: Extending the Study of the Exhibition Across Geographies’, Caiana. Revista de Historia del Arte y Cultura Visual (Buenos Aires, no 10, 2017)

‘Precarious Structures: HIV, Museums and History’, OnCurating: special issue edited by Theodore Kerr (Zürich, 2019)

‘ramona & Ovum: Two Latin-American Models’, Journal de l’Université d’Eté (Paris, Centre Pompidou, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, 2019)

‘The Publication as Evocation: Exhibition Histories’ Printed Matter’, The Exhibition: Histories, Practices and Politics. Revista de História da Arte (Lisbon, vol 14, 2019)

‘The Modern Paradigm and the Exhibitionary Form: The Case of Altermodern’, OnCurating issue 46: Contemporary Art Biennials – Our Hegemonic Machines in Times of Emergency (Zürich, 2020)


‘Setting the Conditions of Display’ – Young Researchers Colloquium, Vrije Universiteit and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, February 2017

‘As Slowly as Possible’ – Symposium, Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, May 2018

‘Les sources au travail. Publications d’artistes: de l’atelier à la bibliothèque (et vice-versa)’ – Summer University, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris, July 2018

‘Grandes públicos y artes visuales de 1950 a nuestros días’ – Conference, Museo Reina Sofía and Universidad Complutense, Madrid, November 2018

‘Exhibiting (and) Histories’ – Workshop, Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, Rome, December 2018 

‘What Do Exhibitions Do?’ – Conference, ASFA & Hydra 21: Exhibition Histories Seminar 1 – hosted by Asad Raza, September 2019