Academic Staff

Dr Gavin Grindon

Position in departmentLecturer in Art History and Curating
Staff positionPGT Director for Art History (AU), Centre for Curatorial Studies Director (AU)
Telephone01206 873445

Gavin recently curated The Museum of Cruel Designs and Guerilla Island at Banksy's Dismaland show. Cruel Designs was an exhibition of design for social control, from police tazers and anti-homeless spikes to booby-trapped border fences. Guerilla Island comprised several spaces for activist-art and workshops. Before this he co-curated the exhibition Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, about objects of art and design produced by protest movements internationally since the late 1970s. It was the museum's most visited exhibition since 1946.

Gavin's research focuses on twentieth century art, specifically activist-art and institutional critique. He has published in Art History, the Oxford Art Journal and Third Text. In 2010 he co-wrote the pamphlet A User's Guide to Demanding the Impossible, which has been translated into a number of languages, and he is currently completing a book on the history of activist-art.

He has a particular interest not only in the particular histories of activist-art, but in new theoretical, methodological and curatorial approaches to social movement cultures which research and display with movements as well as on them. His PhD, completed at Manchester University under Prof. Terry Eagleton, comprised an intellectual history of political-aesthetic theories of revolution-as-festival, from dissident surrealist writers through to aspects of the 1990-2000s global justice movement.


PhD English Studies, University of Manchester, 2007
MA Cultural Criticism, University of Manchester, 2001
BA English Literature and Language, University of Leeds, 2000

Research interests

- modern and contemporary art history

- art and politics; activist-art; institutional critique and its futures

- visual and material cultures of social movements and of social control

- curatorial studies; intersections of curating, critique and political organising

Teaching responsibilities


AR118: Culture, Work and Society
AR221: Collect, Curate, Display
AR312: Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present


AR953: Exhibition Project
AR941: Critique and Curating
AR942: Curating Inside Out

PublicationsLink to publications for Gavin Grindon
  • 'Disobedient Objects,'Warsaw Under Construction,' Warsaw Museum of Contemporary Art, 15 Nov 2014.
  • with Hans Haacke and Mark Dion, "The Museum Divide: Beyond Institutional Critique," 24 Oct 2014, The Natural History Museum, Queens Museum, New York.
  • ‘Contemporary Art and Social Movements’, Art and Radical Democracy After Occupy, UCL, 5 Dec 2013, with Chantal Mouffe and Mark Fisher.
  • ‘Exodus From Art,’ Creative Dissent, York University, 5 June 2013, with TJ Demos, Irit Rogoff.
  • ‘Disobedient Objects’, Radical Gestures, Central Saint Martins, 1 June, 2013.
  • ‘Black Mask’ Contravention, Architecture Association, 25 May, 2013.
  • organiser, "The Politics of the Social in Contemporary Art", Tate Modern, 15 Feb 2013.
  • ‘The “Socialist Surrealism” of the Orange Alternative and the Contested Legacy of the Avant-Garde,’ Polish Art in Public Space, Courtauld Institute, 6 Dec 2012. Translated into Polish and published on the website of the Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art.
  • ‘Activist-Art,’ Tactics of Protest, Royal College of Art, 1st Feb 2012.
  • 'Disobedient Objects: Agency and Determination in Activist-Art,’ Whose Participation? Spaces of Interaction in Contemporary Art and Architecture, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, Switzerland, organised by ETH Zurich, 16-17 Dec 2011.
  • organiser with Dean Kenning, "Art... What's the Use?", Whitechapel Gallery, 2011.'Disobedient Objects,'Warsaw Under Construction,' Warsaw Museum of Contemporary Art, 15 Nov 2014.
  • ‘Black Mask: 1960s Destruction Art and Civil Disobedience,’ Visual Culture Seminar, Goldsmiths University, 6 Oct 2011.
  • ‘Second-Wave Situationism: Artists' Participation in Social Movements, 1964-77’, CUNY Graduate Centre, New York, 10 May 2011.

<< Back