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Federica Mirra

Birmingham City University

Thesis title:

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

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

Research Area


Mirra, Federica (submitted for publication), 'Stitching space: tactile explorations of China‚Äôs urban and social fabric through visual arts', Positions: asia critique. 

Mirra, Federica (2020), 'The art of billboards in urbanized China', Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 7:2-3, pp. 275-300. 

Mirra, Federica (2019), 'Reverie through Ma Yansong's Shanshui City to evoke and re-appropriate China's urban space', Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 6:2-3, pp. 393-413, https://doi.org/10.1386/jcca_00013_1.

Mirra, Federica (2019), 'Visual arts, representations and interventions in contemporary China: urbanized interface', Journal of Visual Art Practice 18:3, pp. 282-284, https://doi.org/10.1080/14702029.2019.1643981.  

Contributing author to the following: 

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


Mirra, Federica (2021), 'Embroidery: Traditional Re-imaginings of Contemporary Urban Beijing', paper to be presented at the 12th International Convention of Asia Scholars, Kyoto International Conference Center, Kyoto.

Mirra, Federica (2021), 'Thames Town: re-imagining Stratford Upon Avon in Shanghai', paper to be presented at the 2020 CPHC/Print Networks Conference, Appleby-in-Westmoreland.

Mirra, Federica (2020), 'Urban imaginaries and contemporary art in China since 2001', paper presented at the 2020 PhD & MA Students' International Forum, Fine Arts Academy, Hunan Normal University, Changsha.

Mirra, Federica (2020), 'The Worlding City', ePoster presented at the M4C Digital Research Festival, online on Kubify. 

Mirra, Federica (2019), 'Imagining futures through real estate billboards in the context of urbanised Beijing', paper presented at the CCVA 12th Annual Conference, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool.

Mirra, Federica (2019), 'Reimagining the Natural and Urban Through the Traditional Notion of Shanshui in Architecture and Art in the 20th century', presented at the International Conference in Trinity College Dublin.

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Lecture on contemporary art and urbanisation in China to the MA Contemporary Arts China (Nov 2020)

  • Online participation at the USyd Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age (Oct 2020)

  • Assistance for the organization of the PGR Studio Annual Conference online (May - Jul 2020)

  • Research Assistant at Fortress Contemporary Art Foundation (Feb - Jun 2020)

  • Completion of SEDA teaching course (February 2020)

  • Presentation of my work at the Photography Research Forum at the University of Huddersfield (Feb 2020)

  • Assitance for 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-Feb 2020) 
    My position involved the organization of the PGR Studio annual conference 2019 and the Inside//Out Festival (Jan 2020).

  • Presentation to the Master's Contemporary Art China (Feb 2019) 
  • Completion of my Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice (Jan 2019)  
  • 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" (Nov 2018)

    Other Research Interests

    • Urban studies
    • Social Studies
    • Architecture 
    • Chinese philosophy


    Member of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA), at the School of Art, Birmingham City University

    SEDA Associate Fellow