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Federica Mirra

Fine Art History, Theory and Practice, Birmingham City University

Thesis title:

Urban Imaginaries: Contemporary Art and Urban Transformations in China since 2001

My discursive and interdisciplinary research investigates the interconnectedness between contemporary artistic practices and urbanisation through the concept of urban imaginaries in the two largest metropolises and artistic centres of Mainland China, Beijing and Shanghai, and beyond since 2001. My research connects the two platforms of visual art and urban transformations with an alternative and unexplored pathway, namely imagination. By using the concept of urban imaginaries, I aim to provide alternative perspectives and understandings to read their relation as additive and creative and envision urban imaginaries. 

Research Area

  • Fine Art History, Theory and Practice


  • Federica Mirra, 'Reverie through Ma Yansong's Shanshui City to evoke and re-appropriate China's urban space', Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 6.2-3 (2019), 393-413, https://doi.org/10.1386/jcca_00013_1.

  • Federica Mirra, review of Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China: Urbanized Interface, by Minna Valjakka and Meiqin Wang, Journal of Visual Art Practice, published online 24 July 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/14702029.2019.1643981.  

Contributing author to the following: 

  • Thailand Biennale Short Guide. Bangkok: Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture, 2018.
  • Catalogue of Thailand Biennale. Bangkok: Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture, 2019. 


  • 'Imagining futures through real estate billboards in the context of urbanised Beijing', Urban Transformations and Contemporary Art in China, Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, in collaboration with Tate Liverpool, November 2019. 
  • 'Reimagining the Natural and Urban Through the Traditional Notion of Shanshui in Architecture and Art in the 20th century', Art in the Anthropocene, International Conference in Trinity College Dublin, June 2019.

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Co-organisation of the PGR Studio annual conference Alchemies of Research: Transformations and Possibilities in Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University (July 2019) 
  • Help the organization of the M3C Research Festival 2019 as coordinator of showcases (May 2019) 
  • Coordination of the event 'Spice-Up Your Write', as one of the successful activities funded by the PGR Studio Researcher's Development Award (29 May 2019) 
  • Research Assistant for the Postgraduate Research Studio at Birmingham City University (Feb 2019-now) 
    My personal objectives for this position are as follows: 
    • Enhance PGR Studio social media profile 
    • Ownership of pastoral and wellbeing events 
    • Lead on organisation and development of PGR Studio conference  
    • Lead on organisation and delivery of Inside//Out festival 2020 
  • Presentation of my professional practice experience at CCVA, working as curatorial assistant for the Thailand Biennale as part of my MA to the students of the Master's Contemporary Art China. (Feb 2019) 
  • Completed my Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice. (Jan 2019)  
    The course allowed me to reflect on my research topic and articulate my aims, objectives, research questions; on top of this, it helped me identify my methodology and methods, and engage with my literature review and my positioning in the field.  
  • Help the PGR Studio's Research Festival in January 2019 (social media, screening and review of proposals) 
  • Talk at the School of Art (BCU) seminar organised by CCVA:  
    • "Self-reflexivity in the context of the Thailand Biennale: the importance of site visits and research trips" (14/11/18 School of Art, BCU) 
  • Short presentation within the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice course at BCU around my research topic (12/12/2018)

Other Research Interests

- Urban studies

- Social Studies