Dr Gavin Grindon

Senior Lecturer
School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies
Dr Gavin Grindon
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873445

  • Location

    6.135, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Wed 11-12 Thu 1-2 (Autumn 2017)



My research focuses primarily on art, curating and cultural policy from 1900-present, focusing on political art, design and curating. My research takes the form of academic writing and public exhibitions. A major area of my research is histories and critical theories of art and curating vis-a-vis protest and social movements. This involves working across terms such as activist-art; social practice; institutional critique; and across fields such as art and design history, curating and museum studies, cultural policy, movement and labour history, and organisational studies. I am currently completing a book on the history of activist-art. This research has had two main threads. Firstly, I am interested in specific 'art histories from below' of different forms of activist and political art practice, primarily those produced within and for social movements. Secondly, I am interested in how seeing and understanding such cultural production, which occurs mostly outside the institutions and conventions of 'fine art', involves rethinking theories and methods for curating, art and design history and cultural policy - and also for other disciplines that speak to the cultures and organisations of social movements. I have published on these topics in Social Text, Third Text, the Oxford Art Journal, Art History and elsewhere. In 2014 I 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, surprisingly, the museum's most visited exhibition since 1946. In 2015 I curated Cruel Designs, an exhibition examining design for social control (from CCTV and anti-homeless spikes to border fences and rubber bullets) at Banksy's Dismaland. In 2017 I co-curated a Palestinian-led Museum of the Occupation at Banksy's Walled off Hotel in Palestine. In 2018, I co-curated From Nope to Hope, which included work by Tania Bruguera, Jeremy Deller, Dread Scott, Shepard Fairey, Milton Glaser, Guerrilla Girls and others. In 2019 I co-curated a satirical Museum of Neoliberalism with the artist Darren Cullen which is currently open for tourists and school visits in South London. In 2022, I was a co-curator of Werbepause, an exhibition on adbusting and its histories at Kunstraum Kreuzberg. I have consulted for museums and galleries internationally. I was a member of the collective Liberate Tate, who from 2010 produced performance interventions in Tate spaces to pressure the organisation to drop BP sponsorship, which they did in 2016. This was the first in a wave of similar moves by other cultural institutions, and of a wave of 'museum protest' since. The group has been widely written about, and the group's archive is held at the University of Essex special collections. Cultural industries funding and campaigns for divestment and labour organising remain an interest, which I've written about for Social Text and the New York Times. While completing my forthcoming book on activist-art, I have undertaken parallel projects which explore how new methods in the digital humanities can be developed to support critical approaches to cultural history, curating and policy. These include using Natural Language Processing and Open Source intelligence to identify and map over 900 British public monuments related to slavery at and producing a film using forensic digital methods to recover and preserve disobedient heritage of the 2011 Syrian uprising from the camera phone footage of its participants. I'm always happy to hear from prospective PhD students in any of these areas.


  • PhD English Studies, University of Manchester, 2007

  • MA Cultural Criticism, University of Manchester, 2001

  • BA English Literature and Language, University of Leeds, 2000

Research and professional activities

Research interests

modern and contemporary art history

Open to supervise

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

Open to supervise

visual and material cultures of social movements and of social control

Open to supervise

aesthetics and affect in social movements

Open to supervise

curatorial studies; intersections of curating, critique and political organising

Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

'Confronting Activist Art and Design From a Museological Perspective', M+ Museum, Hong Kong, 21 March 2016.

Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2016

'Disobedient Objects',Design e Conspiração: Ziguezagues Entre Arte e Filosofia, Universidade Anhembi Morumbi, Sao Paulo, 29 March 2016.

Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2016

'Disobedient Objects,'Warsaw Under Construction,' Warsaw Museum of Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 15 Nov 2014.

Warsaw, Poland, 2014

The Museum Divide: Beyond Institutional Critique, The Natural History Museum, Queens Museum, New York,with Hans Haacke and Mark Dion, 24 Oct 2014.

New York, United States, 2014

Contemporary Art and Social Movements, Art and Radical Democracy After Occupy, UCL, with Chantal Mouffe and Mark Fisher,5 Dec 2013.

London, United Kingdom, 2013

Exodus From Art, Creative Dissent, York University, with TJ Demos and Irit Rogoff,5 June 2013.


Disobedient Objects, Radical Gestures, Central Saint Martins, 1 June, 2013.

London, United Kingdom, 2013

Black Mask Contravention, Architecture Association, 25 May, 2013.


organiser, The Politics of the Social in Contemporary Art, Tate Modern, 15 Feb 2013.

London, United Kingdom, 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.

London, United Kingdom, 2012

Activist-Art, Tactics of Protest, Royal College of Art, 1st Feb 2012.

London, United Kingdom, 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.

Zurich, Switzerland, 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.

Warsaw, Poland, 2011

Black Mask: 1960s Destruction Art and Civil Disobedience, Visual Culture Seminar, Goldsmiths University, 6 Oct 2011.

London, United Kingdom, 2011

Second-Wave Situationism: Artists' Participation in Social Movements, 1964-77, CUNY Graduate Centre, New York, 10 May 2011.

New York, United States, 2011

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum (AR117)

  • Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art (AR220)

  • Art and Ideas III (AR323)

  • Practical Skills for Curatorial Work (AR912)

  • Museum Activism: Art, Politics, Cultural Work and Policy (AR942)

  • Preparing for your Professional Placement (AR946)

  • Exhibition and Portfolio (AR952)

  • Exhibition (Joint Project) (AR953)

  • Dissertation - MA Schemes (AR981)

  • Human Rights and the Arts (HU932)

  • Final Project: Writing Art History (AR980)

  • Professional Placement (AR988)

  • Curating Thesis (AR996)

  • Practical Curatorial Project (AR997)

Previous supervision

Theodore William Price
Theodore William Price
Thesis title: Emergency Images: The Cobr Committee and the Visual Culture of Emergency Politics.
Degree subject: Curating
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 7/12/2022
Lauren Winsor
Lauren Winsor
Thesis title: Through Skin, Flesh & Now the Heart: The Photographic Transgressions of Raoul Ubac
Degree subject: Art History and Theory
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 26/5/2022
Christopher Collier
Christopher Collier
Thesis title: A Transformative Morphology of the Unique: Situating Psychogeography's 1990S Revival
Degree subject: Art History and Theory
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 16/6/2017


Journal articles (13)

Grindon, G., (2023). Curating With Counterpowers: Activist Curating, Museum Protest and Institutional Liberation. Social Text. 41 (2 (155)), 19-44

Grindon, G., Williams, J. and Hay, D., (2023). Mapping British Public Monuments related to Slavery. Slavery and Abolition, 1-24

Grindon, G., (2015). Poetry Written in Gasoline: Black Mask and Up Against the Wall Motherfucker. Art History. 38 (1), 170-209

Grindon, G., (2015). Fantasies of participation: The situationist imaginary of new forms of labour in art and politics. Nordic Journal of Aesthetics. 24 (49-50), 62-90

Grindon, G., (2013). Revolutionary Romanticism: Henri Lefebvre's revolution-as-festival. Third Text. 27 (2), 208-220

Grindon, G., (2011). Surrealism, Dada and the refusal of work: autonomy, activism and social participation in the radical Avant-Garde. Oxford Art Journal. 34 (1), 79-96

Grindon, G., (2011). Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. RADICAL PHILOSOPHY (169), 62-63

Grindon, G., (2010). Alchemist of the revolution: the affective materialism of Georges Bataille. Third Text. 24 (3), 305-317

Grindon, G., (2010). Art and activism. Art Monthly. 333, 9-12

Grindon, G., (2010). Bike Bloc stories. Groundswell (1), 2-12

Gerdes, B., Grindon, G. and Nunes, R., (2010). Protests past and protest futures: a critical conversation about the state of protest and cultural composition. The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. 7

Grindon, G., (2009). Second-wave situationism?. Fifth Estate (350), 11, 50-51

Grindon, G., (2004). Carnival against capital: a comparison of Bakhtin, Vaneigem and Bey. Anarchist Studies. 12 (2), 147-161

Books (2)

Fyrich, W. and Grindon, G., (2014). Lives of the Orange Men A Biographical History of the Polish Orange Alternative Movement. Autonomedia. 9781570272691

Grindon, G. and Flood, C., (2014). Disobedient Objects. Victoria and Albert Museum. 9781851777976

Book chapters (5)

Grindon, G., (2019). Detournement After Jorn. In: Art Strikes Back - from Jorn to Banksy. Editors: Madsen, CK. and Thage, J., . Museum Jorn. 8792307388. 9788792307385

Grindon, G., (2015). The Museum of Cruel Designs. In: Dismaland Bemusement Park, Catalogue. Editors: Banksy, . Dismaland

Grindon, G., (2015). Disobedient Objects. In: Participation in Art and Architecture: Spaces of Participation and Occupation. Editors: Stierli, M. and Widrich, M., . I B Tauris. 1851777970. 9781784530303

(2011). The Notion of Irony in Cultural Activism. In: Cultural Activism. BRILL. 21- 34. 9789042029811

Grindon, G., (2007). The breath of the possible. In: Constituent imagination: militant investigations, collective theorization. Editors: Shukaitis, S. and Graeber, D., . AK Press. 94- 107. 9781904859352

Exhibitions (6)

Flood, C. and Grindon, G., Disobedient Objects

Grindon, G., Cruel Designs. Exhibition

Grindon, G. and Banksy, Occupation Museum. Exhibition

Worth, J., Waterhouse, C. and Grindon, G., From Nope to Hope: Art Against Arms, Oil and Injustice. exhibition

Grindon, G. and Cullen, D., The Museum of Neoliberalism. exhibition, Tylicki, M., Bonner, M., Cullen, D., Clark, C. and Grindon, G., Werbepause: The Art of Subverting. Exhibition

Dataset (1)

Grindon, G., Hay, D. and Williams, J., (2023).British Public Monuments Related to Slavery

Other (1)

Kanngieser, A. and Grindon, G., (2013).Introduction. Parallax. 19(2),Informa UK Limited

Grants and funding


Heritages of the Syrian Revolution

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)

+44 (0) 1206 873445


6.135, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Wed 11-12 Thu 1-2 (Autumn 2017)

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