Edwin Coomasaru is a historian of modern and contemporary art. Currently a Freelance Research Assistant with the Association for Art History, working on an online resource portal of anti-racist and decolonial approaches to the discipline. He recently undertook a Research Fellowship at the Paul Mellon Centre on a project that explored ‘Masculinity and Apocalypticism in British Art, 1968-2020’. His 2018-19 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Courtauld examined images of gender and race in Brexit’s art and political imagination. In 2018 he was awarded a PhD from the Courtauld, which looked at representations of gender, sexuality and the legacy of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ (1968-98) in visual culture. He has contributed to Third Text, The Irish Times, Irish Studies Review, The Irish Review, Photoworks Annual, Burlington Contemporary, Architectural Review, immediations, Source Magazine, and the Barbican’s Masculinities (2020) exhibition catalogue. He co-convenes the Courtauld’s Gender & Sexuality Research Group, and is currently editing a book on Imagining the Apocalypse (Courtauld Books Online). Past projects (below):
Contested Bodies: Gender, Sexuality and the Legacies of the ‘Troubles’ in Visual Culture
Supervised by Prof. Mignon Nixon
PhD funded by CHASE/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership
The PhD research examined art and visual culture produced after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, exploring how the conflict was registered by and worked through in the collective imagination. Looking at artworks and films by Willie Doherty, Ursula Burke, Mariah Garnett, Steve McQueen, Maeve Murphy, Dudi Appleton, Rita Duffy, Mary McIntyre, Malcolm Craig Gilbert and Stuart Griffiths – considering how cultural representations of the ‘Troubles’ from 1998 stage and shatter the historic gender norms that were cultivated to support the conflict.
‘Taking Back Control’?: Gendering Brexit’s Visual Culture
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Research Forum
The 2018-19 Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Courtauld asked how a feminist, queer and anti-racist politics might be brought to bear on the political rhetoric and visual culture surrounding Brexit. What might visual culture tell us about Britain’s changing place on the world stage? How might artists offer us the opportunity to reflect on the feelings of powerlessness and loss of control that the Brexit process has given rise to? The fellowship also involved a conference on Imagining the Apocalypse and a lecture series called Artists on Brexit, as well as management of The Courtaud’s Early Career Research Network.
- Freelance Research Assistant, Association for Art History, January 2021–present.
- Research Continuity Fellowship, The Paul Mellon Centre, June–December 2020.
- Postdoctoral Fellow, The Courtauld, September 2018–August 2019.
- PhD, The Courtauld, 2014–18, (AHRC/CHASE-funded).
- History of Art MA, University College London, 2012–13 (Distinction).
- English and Art History BA, University of Sussex, 2009–12 (First Class Honours and Art History Prize).
- Visiting Lecturer, University of East Anglia (March 2021).
- Visiting Lecturer, American University of Armenia (May 2020).
- Visiting Lecturer, University of Sussex (February 2020).
- Visiting Lecturer, Royal College of Art (January 2020).
- Associate Lecturer, The Courtauld (October 2019–April 2020).
- Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld (October–November 2017).
- Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld (October–November 2015).
- Visiting Lecturer, University of Sussex (November–December 2015).
- Co-editor, Imagining the Apocalypse: Art and the End Times, Courtauld Books Online (forthcoming).
- Co-editor-in-chief, immeditaions, Volume 4, No. 1 (December 2015–December 2016).
- Co-convenor, Gender & Sexuality Research Group, The Courtauld (June 2019–present): seminars, lectures, blog.
- Event Producer, The Courtauld (January 2020–March 2020).
- Organiser, Imagining the Apocalypse, conference, The Courtauld (18–19 October 2019).
- Organiser, Artists on Brexit, lecture series, The Courtauld (2018–19).
- Convenor, Early Career Researchers Network, The Courtauld (2018–19): careers conference and advice seminars.
- Project Lead, RES|FEST x Belfast, art history festival, Ulster Museum (25/10/2018).
- Admin Assistant, The Courtauld, October 2017–August 2018.
- Co-convenor, Gender, Sexuality and Violence Research Network (November 2016–October 2017): seminar series and a major international conference at Goldsmiths.
- Director, International New Media Gallery (May 2012–present).
- AHRC-funded Curatorial Placement, Ulster Museum (February–April 2016).
- Curatorial Trainee, Brighton Photo Fringe (August–October 2014): curated three exhibitions as part of the festival.
- Northern Irish Masculinity: Wounds and the Peace Process (shortlisted for the 2017 AHRC Doctoral/Early Career Film Award).
Peer Review Journals
- ‘Brexit and the Occult: Gendered Ghosts of Empire in Project O’s Saved and Rita Duffy’s Soften the Border’, Third Text, 171, Volume 35, Issue 4 (July 2021).
- ‘Uncontrollable Intimacies: Masculinity, Masturbation and Martyrdom in Steve McQueen’s Hunger’, The Irish Review, Volume 55 (2020), pp.67-82.
- ‘From Millbank Prison to Tate Britain: British Values and Steve McQueen’s Year 3 (2019-21)’ (exhibition review), immediations, Issue 17 (2020), pp.161-163.
- ‘From Armed Struggle to Political Struggle: Republican Tradition and Transformation in Northern Ireland’ (book review), Irish Studies Review, Volume 24, Issue 3 (August 2016), pp.373-375.
- ‘Brexit, Gender and Northern Ireland’s Supernatural Landscape: Ursula Burke’s A False Dawn and Candida Powell-Williams’ Command Lines’, in Sophie Mesplède and Charlotte Gould eds., British Art and the Environment: Changes, Challenges and Responses post-1750 (London: Routledge, 2021), pp.213-228.
- ‘Taking Back Control? Photography and Fantasies of Male Order’, in Alona Pardo ed., Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (London: Barbican Centre, 2020), pp.27-33.
- ‘Queer Life and Kinship: Anthony Luvera’s Let Us Eat Cake (2017)’, in Anthony Luvera ed., Let Us Eat Cake (Belfast: Belfast Exposed, 2017), pp.23-27.
- ‘William Lakin: Five Minutes After Birth‘, Source Magazine, Issue 103 (Winter 2020), pp.40-49.
- ‘Facemask art and pandemic politics’, Burlington Contemporary (6 August 2020).
- ‘Camera man: race, class, and British masculinity’, The Architectural Review (March 2020), pp.40-45.
- ‘Brexit politics and feminist prophecies: Candida Powell-Williams’s tarot deck’, Burlington Contemporary (18 December 2019).
- ‘Could Brexit spark an English civil war?’, The Irish Times (28 October 2019).
- ‘Magical thinking: Is Brexit an occult phenomenon?’, The Irish Times (18 February 2019).
- ‘Is Brexit the apocalypse?’, The Irish Times (28 November 2018).
- ‘Is the London fatberg a metaphor for Brexit?’, The Irish Times (18 April 2018).
- ‘Performing Sexuality and Sectarianism: Mariah Garnett’s Other & Father (2015)’, Photoworks, Issue 24 (2017), pp.72-83.
- ‘What can art tell us about gender and the 2017 general election?’, Art UK (12 September 2017).
- ‘Silent Grace and women’s hands: arming female militancy’, The Irish Times (1 September 2017).
- ‘Northern Irish art: paintings and politics’, Art UK (18 July 2017).
- ‘Emaciating machismo: masculinity, murals and memorialising hunger strikes’, The Irish Times (5 May 2016).