Meet the Project Team

Get to know the team working on ‘Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum’. This research project is responding to recent and contemporary artworks that challenge the practices of the museum and will contribute to theory and practice in collection care, curation and museum management.

Led by Professor Pip Laurenson, working in close collaboration with staff in the Collection Care Division, researchers are embedded within various teams across Tate and all work in close collaboration with a range of staff across the organisation. The initiative also hosts four visiting fellowships and two collaborative doctoral students.

Five people sit around a table covered in microphones on stands, the room is dark and a red light glows on the table

Four members of the Reshaping the Collectible project team speaking about the project for Art on Air, Resonance FM’s pop-up radio studio broadcasting live from Tate Modern, 28 October – 3 November 2019
Photo © Tate

Five people sit on the floor at the edge of a dark room, their backs against a wall, appearing to watch something

Project team members watch a rehearsal for a performance of Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain (1972) at Tate Liverpool
Photo © Roger Sinek

Two people wearing Tate staff lanyards greet guests - a printed sign behind reads 'welcome to Tate Exchange'

Research Manager Kit Webb and Collection Registrar Stephen Huyton welcoming guests to Lives of Net Art, a day of workshops, talks and interactive experiences at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, 4 April 2019
Photo © Hydar Dewachi

Two seated people turn to look at a third who is speaking and gesturing with their hands

Fellow in Contemporary Art Conservation and Research Dr Hélia Marçal speaking at a seminar
Photo © Roger Sinek

A person speaks and gestures with their hands while being interviewed for a film - there is a panel of three people behind the camera as well as a camera operator and a boom operator

Filming an interview with one of the musicians who performed Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain (1972) at Tate Liverpool, 17 May 2019
Photo © Roger Sinek

Two people stand with their back to the camera, speaking to a third in the centre, who faces the camera

Project team members in conversation with Rhys Chatham (who played the long string drone in the original performance) at a performance of Tony Conrad’s audio-visual meditation Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain (1972) at Tate Liverpool, 17 May 2019
Photo © Roger Sinek

A person stands at a lectern in the Tate Exchange space at Tate Modern, with a projected slide presentation nearby, speaking to an audience

Pip Laurenson introducing a talk by pioneering curator of digital art Christiane Paul at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, 3 April 2019
Photo © Hydar Dewachi

Three people talk and smile, others are gathered in another small group in the background

Deputy Head of Collection Care Research Dr Bergit Arends in conversation with Digital Producer Vanessa Peterson and guitarist Emily Lansley, one of the musicians who performed Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain (1972) at Tate Liverpool, 17 May 2019
Photo © Roger Sinek

A group of people gather around a table, some of using laptops, listening to a workshop leader, behind whom is a screen displaying their own laptop screen for the audience

A workshop at Lives of Net Art at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, 4 April 2019
Photo © Hydar Dewachi

A person reaches up to add a piece of paper to a mural

Christopher Griffin, Convenor, Research Programmes and Publications, contributes to an internet timeline mural at Lives of Net Art at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, 4 April 2019
Photo © Tate

Professor Pip Laurenson

Head of Collection Care Research and Project Lead, January 2018 –

Pip’s role as Project Lead for ‘Reshaping the Collectible’ builds on nine years as Head of Collection Care Research at Tate, directing research into new models for collecting and conserving performance, film, video and software-based art. She received her doctorate from University College London, is an accredited member of the Institute for Conservation and holds a special chair as Professor in Art, Collection and Care at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. Pip is committed to interdisciplinary research that serves and responds to the art of our time, and to exploring what it means for a contemporary art museum to be a research organisation.

Dr Bergit Arends

Deputy Head of Collection Care Research, August 2018 – September 2019

In her role as Deputy Head of Collection Care Research, Bergit supported the project’s infrastructure, the development of the research, and its publishing outputs. Prior to this she was Acting Head of Research at Science Museum Group. Her PhD thesis of 2017, completed at Royal Holloway, University of London, is titled ‘Contemporary Art, Archives and Environmental Change in the Age of the Anthropocene’; before that, Bergit studied Curating at the Royal College of Art, London. As an academic researcher and curator of contemporary art, she creates interdisciplinary research environments and develops research capacity within museums.

Dr Lucy Bayley

Post-Doctoral Researcher, July 2018 – February 2021

Dr Lucy Bayley is the project’s Post-Doctoral Researcher. Recently awarded a doctorate for a thesis exploring audiences and exhibitions at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (1949–1986), she also lectures at Sotheby’s Institute. From 2007 to 2013 she was the Curator of National Programmes at the Contemporary Art Society, and has previously worked at Drawing Room, Serpentine Galleries, Matt’s Gallery and PEER. Interested in histories of exhibitions and cultural institutions, Lucy’s research on the project starts from a mapping of Tate’s history of collecting, examining moments of change as a dialogue between that artwork and the collection.

Sarah Haylett

Archives & Records Management Researcher, July 2018 –

Sarah received her MA in Archives and Records Management from UCL in 2011 and has previously worked at the British Library, Zaha Hadid Architects, The Photographers’ Gallery, and most recently as Archivist and Collection Manager for a private art collector in London. Sarah will be researching how Tate’s institutional records and archive capture the life of an artwork in the contemporary art museum. Looking beyond a culture of compliance, she is interested in how this information can be presented to audiences and more effectively support research and collecting practice. She will also provide records management guidance to the project team.

Stephen Huyton

Collection Registrar, Research, July 2018 –

Stephen is the project’s Collection Registrar, Research and is embedded as a researcher within Tate’s Acquisition and Long Loan Registrar team. He has been working in the field of museum registration since 2014, most recently as Assistant Collection Registrar for ARTIST ROOMS (Tate and National Galleries of Scotland), working with its international collection of modern and contemporary art. Stephen’s research focuses on Tate’s collection management, documentation and registration working practices, and will look at how particularly challenging artworks question the institution’s notions of status, classification and collectability.

Dr Hélia Marçal

Fellow in Contemporary Art Conservation and Research, June 2018 – July 2020

As Fellow in Contemporary Art Conservation and Research and a researcher embedded within Tate’s Time-based Media Conservation team, Hélia’s role combined research into theory and practice. Prior to starting this role, she had been working on the conservation and exhibition of performance-based art since 2011. She received her PhD in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage from NOVA University of Lisbon in 2018. Her research looked into conservation practices at Tate with a feminist epistemological lens while exploring issues of performativity, participation, partiality and positionality.

Vanessa Peterson

Digital Producer, Research, March 2019 – September 2020

Jess Sully

Collection Care Research Manager, March 2020 –

Jess provides project management support for Tate’s Collection Care Research projects and initiatives. She has driven work on two Reshaping the Collectible case studies: Remastering, Remaking, Reproducing and Richard Bell’s Embassy. In previous roles, Jess coordinated activities for creative industries’ international and business growth programmes and specialises in supporting teams working across different disciplines. She received her MPhil in History of Art and Literature from Goldsmiths College, University of London and is a trained graphic designer.

Kit Webb

Research Manager, Reshaping the Collectible, October 2018 –

Kit provides organisational and research support to the project, coordinating the public events and workshops, the Visiting Fellowship programme and communication about the research both on- and offline.

Senior Academic Fellows

All these fellowships were made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Head and shoulders of a person next to a poster showing a hand holding a phone on which is written 'I miss my pre-internet brain'. The poster is positioned so the hand appears to belong to the person.

Sarah Cook joined Tate as the fourth and final Senior Academic Fellow for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum. Sarah has partly undertaken the fellowship from Scotland and partly onsite at Tate.

Sarah is a curator of contemporary art and for 20 years has curated exhibitions of media and digital art worldwide, in particular commissioning works for festivals including AV Festival, Transitio MX and NEoN (NorthEast of North) Digital Arts. She is Professor of Museum Studies in Information Studies at the University of Glasgow where she leads the course ‘Curating Lively Practices’ on the MSc in Museum Studies, and also holds the role of ‘theme lead’ for Creative Economies and Cultural Transformations in the soon-to-open Advanced Research Centre.

Her research addresses how artists use new technologies in their work and how the exhibition of this work can help us all understand the increasingly technological world we live in. In 2019 she curated ‘24/7’ at Somerset House, an exhibition reflecting on the non-stop nature of our daily lives and she has written about artists working with machine learning and AI, most recently in relation to the work of Trevor Paglen (at Barbican) and Tamiko Thiel (at The Photographers’ Gallery). Twenty years ago, as part of her doctoral work with BALTIC, Sarah considered the relationship of new media art to the museum, including studying examples of internet-based art at Tate. This fellowship allows her to revisit that work and trace its threads forward. The online network for curators of media art she co-founded – CRUMB, and its mailing list new-media-curating – is still used by curators and researchers today.

Her research at Tate aims to mind the gaps in curatorial knowledge about new media and digital art, particularly internet and networked practices. Sarah is particularly keen to help curators consider the long tail of their commissioning processes, the possibilities of restaging works and different models for the production and exhibition of digital art. The research will build on Sarah’s own history of using practice-based research and curatorial work to understand the intersection of art and technology and the challenges of presenting and preserving the work. It will also contribute to two planned book chapters – ‘New Media Art Curating in Theory and Practice’ for the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of New Media Art and a chapter about agility for Museums and Digital Confidence: Capability, Competency and Literacy.

Over the course of her fellowship, Sarah is supporting the development of the project’s public-facing outputs, including a display at Tate Britain titled Lives of Artworks and a video about net art and the museum.

Links to Sarah’s curatorial work and writings can be found at www.sarahcook.info.

Head and shoulders portrait photo

Haidy Geismar was the project’s first Senior Academic Fellow. Her fellowship ran from September 2019 to January 2020.

Haidy is a Professor of Anthropology at University College London, a curator of the UCL Ethnography Collections and Co-director of the UCL Centre for Digital Anthropology. Her research expertise lies in collaborative museum practice, indigenous museologies and indigenous contemporary art (Vanuatu and New Zealand).

The fellowship supported the development of longer-term projects, including an edited volume on impermanence. Haidy’s engagement with Reshaping the Collectible also prompted new writing, working on a paper that takes three core terms for the project – participation, social networks and decolonisation – and explores how they might be seen from inside one of the case studies.

Haidy’s fellowship closed with the convening of a talk for Collection Care staff. The event brought together four members of Te Maru o Hinemihi, a pūkenga, or specialist board of advisors established to raise awareness and support the conservation of Hinemihi. Hinemihi is a traditional Māori meeting house from Te Wairoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and now at Clandon Park in Surrey, England.

Through their talk, Samantha Callaghan, Anthony Hoete, Dean Sully and Haidy discussed how the group could be understood as a strategy of care, working within different structures (whether the National Trust Friends organisation or those from Aotearoa). A discussion followed about the lessons that could be drawn from their work for contemporary art conservation.

You can read more about Haidy’s time at Tate in this short interview published by UCL. Haidy’s UCL profile provides more background on her research and previous publications.

Lydia Goehr was the project’s second Senior Academic Fellow. Her fellowship began in January 2020 but was disrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lydia is a Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. She has written extensively on the history of aesthetic theory, the contemporary philosophy of the arts, critical theory and the philosophy of history.

She is the author of The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (1994), a book which analyses how the idea of a musical ‘work’ emerged and subsequently came to define the norms, expectations and behaviours that we associate with different forms of music.

Recently she has returned to this topic, exploring previous attempts to look to the past for a more malleable, less ossified concept of the artwork. Other current interests include early Yiddish cinema and the concept of portability; and having taken up the violin again, the idea and process of re-learning. Her current book project is titled Red Sea—Red Square.

Over the course of her fellowship, Lydia was interested in exploring the idea of artworks ‘that don’t endure’, are temporary, or which are ‘refused by their makers the status of being works’.

Plans were in place for Lydia to deliver a talk in Tate Modern’s Starr Auditorium exploring how museums have shaped our understanding of what an artwork is and how, in turn, different ideas of ‘the artwork’ might help us to re-imagine the museum. A talk was also scheduled for late March 2020 at Tate Liverpool on how art makes us laugh and cry, the ways it shifts mood and perspective. Unfortunately, both events had to be postponed when the UK went into lockdown.

Lydia’s Columbia University profile provides more background on her research and previous publications. Other books include The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy and Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (1998). Many of her publications can also be found on her academia.edu profile.

Vivian van Saaze was the project’s third Senior Academic Fellow. Her Fellowship began in September 2020 and continued virtually after her return to the Netherlands in December 2020. You can read a short interview with Vivian about her experience as a Fellow on Maastricht University’s website.

Vivian is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University in the Netherlands where she heads the Arts and Heritage Master’s programme, and the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH).

She specialises in the study of museum practices by integrating theories and methods from anthropology, museum studies, and science and technology studies. Research interests include institutional challenges and opportunities arising both from digitisation and inherently unstable artworks such as installation art, digital art and performance art.

Vivian arrived in London in August 2020 and has faced the unenviable challenge of conducting fieldwork at a time when very few members of staff are working from Tate’s galleries and offices. Through the imposition of the second lockdown, Vivian has already made vital contributions to the project as it moves into its final year.

Her research at Tate aims to offer a reflection on the model of ‘embedded research’. This model was adopted by the Reshaping the Collectible team, where researchers work between Tate’s Research and Collection Care teams. Vivian’s research will situate the project’s use of this model within larger discussions about the value of embedded research.

She asks: what are the drivers and assumptions of ‘embedded research’ for museums? How are different research identities (being) shaped and which specificities of museum practice are decisive for the opportunities and limitations of embedded research? What is the role of criticality? The underlying question is: what is the role and agency of embedded research as an avenue for forging institutional change?

The research will build on Vivian’s earlier research, which has employed ethnographic methods to study institutional change. It will also contribute to a planned monograph on doing ethnography in, of and with museums. She will turn the lens to her own research practice and explore different ways of engaging, or how to become an ‘immersed participant’ (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017) in times of social distancing. (The idea of the ‘immersed participant’ is derived from Maria Puig de la Bellacassa’s Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds, 2017.)

Some of Vivian’s publications are open access and can be viewed here:

‘Imagining the Future of Digital Collections and Archives’, editorial co-written with Claartje Rasterhoff and Karen Archey, Stedelijk Studies, no.10, Fall 2020, https://stedelijkstudies.com/issue-10-digital-archives-and-collections/.

‘Adaptive Change: Managing Digital Art at MoMA’, co-written with Glenn Wharton and Leah Reisman, Museum & Society, special issue on ‘Museum Methods: Researching the Museum as Institution’, vol.16, no.2 (2018), pp.220–39, https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v16i2.2774.

Doctoral Students

Contributors

Various teams and individuals at Tate have been involved in ‘Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum’.

Patricia Falcão, Time-based Media Conservator, worked on the Lives of Net Art case study. In this, she focused on strategies to support the acquisition and preservation of web-based artworks. Patricia is also a doctoral student at Tate and Goldsmiths College, London.

Libby Ireland, Sculpture & Installations Conservator, supported the project team on the research into artworks by Ima-Abasi Okon and Richard Bell.

Chris King, Assistant Conservator, Time-based Media, worked on the Lives of Net Art case study. Through this research, he contributed to the definition of new workflows for digital elements as well as testing tools and procedures for software-based artworks.

Louise Lawson, Conservation Manager, Time-based Media, oversees the contributions to Tony Conrad; lead designer of the ‘Remastering, Remaking, Reproducing’ case study.

Jack McConchie, Time-based Media Conservator, was embedded on the project for the final two case studies, which undertook research into artworks by Ima-Abasi Okon and Richard Bell.

Alexandra Nichols, Conservator, Time-based Media, was embedded on the project for the ‘Remastering, Remaking, Reproducing’ case study. Her research has entailed engaging everyone who ought to be involved to develop more consistent procedures for intervention. She has also explored how the remaking, remastering, or reproduction of artworks can be communicated to audiences.

Ana Ribeiro, Conservator, Time-based Media, worked on the case study researching Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain.

Tate’s Research Publishing team has been instrumental in the delivery of all written and web-based outputs of the project. They have supported each of our researchers, helping them refine their ideas for written texts into briefs. They have then reviewed every draft, copy-edited every sentence and produced every text for the web. The team also played a significant role in developing the communications strategy for the project.

Arthur Goodwin, Assistant Research Editor
Christopher Griffin, Convenor, Research Programmes and Publications
Celia White, Senior Research Editor
Susannah Worth, Digital Editor, Research

Louise Lawson, Conservation Manager, Time-based Media
Adrian Glew, Archivist
Jane Kennedy, Records Manager
Alyson Rolington, Registration Manager

Rosemary Lynch, Director of Collection Care (Chair)
Jane Bramwell, Head of Library and Archive
Judith Comyn, Head of Audience Insight
Gregor Muir, Director of Collection, International Art
Deborah Potter, Head of Conservation
Emily Pringle, Head of Research
Polly Staple, Director of Collection, British Art

Former members of the project Steering Group:

Bergit Arends, Deputy Head of Collection Care Research
Anna Cutler, Director of Learning and Research
Ann Gallagher, Director of Collection, British Art
Kate Parsons, Head of Collection Management