Andrew Cummings - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Andrew Cummings

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Andrew Cummings

PhD student

Thesis: ‘Strange Encounters: The Alien, Queerness, and Contemporary Asian Art (1990–Present)’

Supervised by Dr. Wenny Teo (The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Dr. Sook-Kyung Lee (Tate); advised by Professor Jo Applin (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Funded by AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Award for the project ‘New Media Art Histories in Asia’ (The Courtauld Institute of Art & Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational)

My writing focuses on queerness, globalisation, and contemporary art, particularly video, installation, and performance. I am especially interested in queer and feminist uses of science fiction, horror, and fantasy; what contemporary art might tell us about different and contested lineages, understandings, and experiences of queerness; and the possibilities and limits of art and its spaces as sites for encountering, exploring, and interrogating queerness and other, overlapping experiences of marginality.

My PhD thesis takes stock of the proliferation of alien presences in contemporary video, installation, and performance art from across East and Southeast Asia and their diasporas. Exploring work by twelve artists across five chapters, the thesis examines appearances made by extraterrestrials, cyborgs, genetic mutations, spectres, and hybrid mythological creatures, among others. I ask: how has the alien been taken up to figure queer embodiments, affects, and attachments? What resistant readings might the alien produce, against not only cisheteropatriarchal constructs of desire and belonging but also normative, identity-based queer activisms and dominant, globally circulating narratives of the queer itself? And what currencies might the alien have, what uses might it be put to, in a globalised art market that increasingly trades in images of queerness and other, interrelated forms of constructed ‘difference’? Uninterested in offering a definitive reading of the alien, and even less in painting a coherent picture of queerness, my doctoral project draws upon interviews and scholarship in several languages, across (and against) queer and postcolonial theories, art history, anthropology, and media studies, to open up understandings of the queer, the alien, and their traffic in contemporary Asian art.


  • 2017–present: PhD Candidate, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership ‘New Media Art Histories in Asia’, The Courtauld Institute of Art & Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational
  • 2015–2016: MA Anthropology of Media, SOAS, University of London
  • 2008–2012: BA Modern Languages, University of Oxford


Conference Papers

Research Interests

  • Contemporary art and visual culture
  • The transnational and the global
  • Queerness
  • The dynamics of gender, desire, race, and class
  • Disease and contagion
  • Horror, fantasy, and science fiction
  • Speculative futures, utopia, and the apocalypse


  • Summer 2020: Art History Summer University (introduction to Art History for Year 12 students)
  • Spring 2020: Guest Lecturer, Global China (MA)
  • Summer 2019: Teaching Assistant, Foundations – Modern and Contemporary Art (BA)
  • Autumn 2018 & 2019: Teaching Assistant, Core Methodologies (MA)


  • Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, Taiwan Ministry of Education (July–August 2019)

Other Activities

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