Critical Practices Research Lab

With a focus on history, theory, criticism, and curation, the MADA Critical Practices Research Lab brings together scholars and practitioners from across the Faculty and across disciplines of art, design and architecture.

The Laboratory provides a rich and supportive research environment for both academic staff and PhD candidates, and aims to promote interdisciplinary collaboration as well as outstanding discipline-specific research in both traditional and practice modes. Uniquely positioned at MADA alongside an extraordinary group of artists, designers and architects, the lab hosts events and international guests, and creates exciting opportunities for higher degree students to develop their research.

The structure of the Laboratory is flexible and inclusive. While it is led by a steering committee comprising (in alphabetic order) Jess Berry, Charity Edwards, Tara McDowell, Melissa Miles, Ari Seligmann, and Naomi Stead, it has an ethos of openness and is activated around specific collaborations and projects.

Members of the Lab are united by an interest in methodological innovation: broadly oriented towards humanities-based approaches, they emphasise engagement in the world and putting ideas to work. Fundamentally, they are driven by the critical (encompassing the political implications of art, design, and architecture, and an ethical orientation towards critique and the common good) and also on practices (on different ways of doing history, theory, criticism and curation – including experimental ways).

In focusing on the expanded fields of art, design and architecture, members of the Lab are committed to challenging orthodox subjects, methods, and understandings, including challenges to the historic canon. Lab members are committed to inter-and trans-disciplinarity, to exploratory and speculative approaches, and to ‘non-traditional’ as well as traditional research outcomes. In recognising the important role of historians, critics, theorists and curators as activists and agents for change, members of the Lab are oriented towards advocacy and impact in the world.

Research outcomes from the Lab include scholarly publications; exhibitions (both designed and curated); essays and criticism in industry and generalist media; events and symposia; propositional plans, designs, works and speculations; contributions to policy and commentary in the public domain.

The Lab aims to create a framework for fostering a creative and critical discourse: for a deep and collective conversation that unfolds over time and responds to questions that are both vital and urgent.

Key staff

Jacqui Alexander, Michelle Antoinette, Gene Bawden, Jess Berry, Matthew Bird, Rex Butler, Charity Edwards, Maria Fullaondo, Eduardo Kairuz , Tara McDowell, Melissa Miles, Timothy Moore, Luke Morgan, Tom Morgan, James Oliver, Ari Seligmann, Naomi Stead, and others.

Key projects