Job title: Chair of Contemporary Art Practice & Theory
Role: MA Contemporary Art Theory Programme Director
Office address: Main Building
Contact time: UTC+0
Research outputs: Professor Neil Mulholland on Edinburgh Research Explorer
My research and learning interests in paragogy and weirding coorespond with three inter-related corporations (Confraternity of Neoflagellants, Shift/Work, Atelier).
Each of these corporations is primarily concerned with methodological inventiveness, co-constructing para and extradisciplinary methods that systematically re-frame artistic research as an open ended inquiry: a careful, continuous quest driven by curiosity.
Contemporary art is a parasite; a good host forever seeking an equally good host. To these ends, I almost always work collaboratively, forming a distributed corporatus, then adopting shared avatars that have interpretive flexiblity.
For example, the avatar The Confraternity of Neoflagellants fabulates theory-fictions. One such theory-fiction is the para-discipline of neomedievalism. CoN's neomedievalism is akin to 'Weird Machine', an exploit that fabulates its own metaverse into existence by metastasising existing disciplines and practices such as Medievalisms Studies, New Weird, Weirding, Psychotronic arts, Comparative Esotericism and Conspirituality. CoN's exploit generates unique methods for palimpsesting extant knowledges, for divining what is yet to be known, and for bleeding non/counter-knowledge boundary formations.
I have long worked as a critic for many international art publications. I still write for literary and political magazines, the popular press, television, commissioned monographs and artwriting publications and have curated exhibitions as part of international biennials as well as numerous projects at artist-led organisations. Additionally, I continue to produce original archival research on contemporary art in Britain since the 1970s.
- Confraternity of Neoflagellants
- Neomedievalisms / Anachronic / Nonmodern; Fictioning, Fabulation and Theory-Fiction; The Weird: New Weird, Weirding, Weird Materialisms, Spooky Action, Psychotronic Art, Comparative Esotericism, Conspirituality, Weird Cities, The Weird Machine, Anti-Knowledge, Misc.; Neurodiversity; Deanthropotechnics
- educational turns in art/curating; workshop-as-method; Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) in art; paragogics; para-academia
- Atelier Network
- Contemporary Art + Anthropology; Hybrid research methods; Weird materialisms and non-representationalism; Organisational studies pertaining to contemporary art (curating, arts programming)
- 1998, Doctor of Philosophy, History of Art, The University of Glasgow
- 1995, MA (Hons.) History of Art with English Literature, The University of Glasgow
I have held a number of senior management roles and been an academic leader at a Scottish, GB and European High Education Area level.
As Postgraduate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences in The University of Edinburgh I was responsible for 200 taught postgradute programmes (7,500 FTE students) and 2,200 PhD students across 11 Schools: Business School; Centre for Open Learning; Divinity; Economics; Edinburgh College of Art; Health in Social Science; History, Classics and Archaeology; Law; Literatures, Languages and Cultures; Moray House School of Education; Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences; Social and Political Science.
As Dean I also-co Chaired our Senatus Researcher Experience Committee, responsible for all 5,750 PhD students in the University of Edinburgh (now our Doctoral College).
I represented The University of Edinburgh in the Russell Group, Coimbra and the League of European Research Universities.
I was Exec Member of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities.
I have also been:
Director of PGT and PGR Learning & Teaching in Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
School of Art PG Director and Director of MA and MFA Contemporary Art Programmes, University of Edinburgh
School of Art Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange and Programme, University of Edinburgh
Director of the Centre for Visual & Cultural Studies, Edinburgh College of Art (as SSI HEI)
Director of Taught Postgraduate Studies, Edinburgh College of Art (as SSI HEI)
Director of 8+ taught postgraduate programmes
Before joining ECA, I was a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art at the University of the Creative Arts, Surrey and Visiting Lecturer in Historical & Critical Studies at The Glasgow School of Art and in History of Art, The University of Glasgow.
Quality Enhancement of Learning & Teaching
I am currently Chief External Examiner Fine Art & Examiner, BA (Hons) Fine Art Critical Practice and all BA Critical Studies modules, University of Brighton, England
2021: Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC), Art, History and Theory (BA, Masters, PhD), Department of Fine Arts, Cyprus University of Technology, for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.
2017-2020 External Examiner, Master of Research, Royal College of Art, London, England.
2017-2020 External Examiner, Visual Culture: BA Fine Art and BA Visual Art Programmes, Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute Technology, Ireland.
2019: Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC), Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, University of Nicosia for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.
2014-2018 Chief External Examiner and External Examiner MA Creative Practice, Leeds Arts University, Leeds, England.
2016 BA and MFA Fine Art Revalidation Panellist and Reviewer, School of Art & Design, Ulster University, Belfast, Ireland.
2013-2017 MA Fine Art and MFA Programmes at the University of Leeds, England.
2010-2015 External Examiner Visual Culture, History and Theory modules in the BA (Hons) Contemporary Fine Art, BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design with Enterprise, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Illustration and BA (Hons) Photography in the School of Art, Design and Media, University of Portsmouth, England.
2009-2013 External examiner of BA (Hons.) Fine Art Programmes at the School of Art, BIAD, Birmingham City University, England.
I established the MA CAT in 2001 as a post-studio programme that supports the practices of artists and contemporary art professionals. My research and teaching are fully integrated in this programme. Additionally, the theory and practice of teaching art is, in its own right, one of my key research concerns:
- In 2020, I co-created new open courseware in Contemporary Art & Open Learning with Jake Watts, Emma Balkind and Beth Dynowski. The courseware is an Open Educational Resource that anyone can access online.
- In 2021, I launched a new course in Contemporary Art + Anthropology, team taught with Frances Davis and Edinburgh University Art Collections. This course combines artistic practice and social anthropology to create a hybrid interdiscipline.
Current Research Projects
I work with the artist Norman Hogg (Concordia, Montréal, Quebec) as the Confraternity of Neoflagellants. CoN is a mismorphic ‘weird-machine’, a black box wherein ferments a deanthropotechnic, phosphorescent, and occasionally putrid cultic milieu.
CoN's intermedial work has taken the form of books, zines, videos, artefacts, paintings, articles, talks, performances, parties, academic papers, shops, music… and has featured in a wide range of galleries, art catalogues, artists’ books, art journals, and academic journals traversing the disciplines of contemporary art and medieval studies. In 2014, Goldsmiths College hosted Neomedievalisms, a symposium responding to our theory-fiction book thN Lng folk 2 go: Investigating Future Premoderns (Punctum, 2013). In 2015, we chaired “Neomedieval Aesthetics in the 21st Century” at the Leeds International Medieval Congress and performed at congresses in Toronto (BABEL Group) and Warsaw (New Materialism). Mobilitas Loci, was commissioned for the artist Amanda Beech’s bookwork First Machine and Final Machines (LGP, England, Nov 2015), which includes writing by Reza Negarestani and Ray Brassier.
CoN completed a residency at SenseLab in Montréal in the first half of 2019. In spring 2019, CoN exhibited a new film in Whale Fall at Gossamer Fog in London and grew a solo show - ρan-ρan - at SAW in Ottawa in November 2019. In April 2020, we published 'Built this City' for Emotionarama a new edition by Andro Semiko and Andrew Hunt. Our open access novel ρan-ρan (New York: Punctum, 2021) was ejaculated in the summer of 2021. confraternityofneoflagellants.org.uk
- Find out more about the Confraternity of Neoflagellants
- thN Lng folk 2 go: Investigating Future Premoderns, Punctum Books, NYC, 2013
- pan-pan, SAW Video, Ottawa, Canada, 2019
- pan-pan, Punctum Books, NYC, 2021
I work with Dan Brown and Jake Watts on Shift/Work, a group that develops workshop models for artistic paragogy, participatory visual methods and open educational resources. Shift/Work has examined and reconfigured ways in which we can facilitate comprehensive workshop-based approaches to artistic production that are theoretically informed, practical and participatory. We facilitate new experiential knowledges, practices and tools for artists and art educators to adapt and implement. In 2015 we delivered papers on Shift/Work Unlearning at conferences in Poznan and Brighton. In 2016 we ran Decisions, Decisions at ESW (ITAC3), Malmö Art Academy and Reykjavík Art Academy and faciliated Groundcourse with Prof Roy Ascott. Shift/Work Speculations was composed in ESW and ran at the Kochi Biennial, India and at the Kristiansand Theatre, Norway in 2017. We ran a new workshop - IN/OUT - at Risky Business #3, Sheffield Institute of Creative Arts. I published a book - Re-imagining the Art School - that develops the paragogics of Shift/Work into a broader manifesto for art school reform and contributed a Shift/Workshop to Leap into Action a reader on Performative Pedagogics in Art & Design Education (Peter Lang, 2019).
In 2020, I co-created new open courseware in Contemporary Art & Open Learning with Jake Watts, Emma Balkind and Beth Dynowski. The courseware is an Open Educational Resource that anyone can access online.
- Find out more about Shift/Work
- Neil Mulholland Re-imagining the Art School: Paragogy and Artistic Learning: Palgrave, 2019.
With Dr Angela McClanahan (University of Western Illinois, USA) and Professor Richard Baxstrom (Social Anthropology, UoE) I co-direct the research network Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences in the University of Edinburgh. Disciplines within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and our external partners each have their own protocols and methods for making material available for study in the form of objects. Yet, as we make radically distinct objects from the same material, what remains to be formulated are the concepts, equipment, and techniques that might generate the truly collaborative ability to fabricate common research objects. We have developed new models of making and enquiry that bring together often separate visual and material research practices within the social sciences and humanities through the creation of ‘Atelier’. An Atelier is a commons that allows us to make shared research ‘objects’ through collaborative research practices. A series of charrettes - participatory workshops involving interested colleagues across UoE, partners in the museum and gallery sector and local ‘user groups’, in turn, focus on a particular object that facilitates and contrasts different methods of material enquiry. By engaging with ’things’ in the custody/field of our non-academic partners, these charrettes have enabled us to map and improve conditions for cross-disciplinary collaboration, shifting the emphasis away from doing research towards the creation of research objects. In 2016, Atelier have organised charrettes with National Museums Scotland (Edinburgh) and Atlas Arts (Skye) and hosted a keynote by Richard Sennett.