Ansuman Biswas was born in Calcutta and trained in the UK. He has an international creative practice encompassing music, film, live art, installation, writing and theatre. He is interested in hybridity and inter-disciplinarity – often working between science, art and industry, for instance, or between music, dance and visual art. Recent work has included directing Shakespeare in America, designing underwater sculptures in the Red Sea, living with wandering minstrels in India, being employed as an ornamental hermit in the English countryside, touring with Björk, surviving blindfolded for days in an unknown place, travelling with nomadic shamans in the Gobi Desert, playing with Oasis, collaborating with neuroscientists in Arizona, living for a week with nothing but what spectators chose to give him, singing continuously for twenty four hours, organizing activists in Soweto, meditating in a box for ten days with no food or light, creating a musical in a maximum security prison, performing as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, bathing strangers, running seminars in a Burmese monastery, playing with dying children, making a radio telescope sing and dance, being locked in a Gothic Tower alone for forty days and nights, and flying on a real magic carpet in Star City, Moscow.
Dominic Johnson researches, writes about, and teaches performance art, live art and visual art after 1960. He has written about performance art and live art in relation to themes and problems including extremity and endurance, consensual self-injury, censorship, HIV/AIDS, intimacy, crime, the occult, and pornography. He is a Professor of Performance and Visual Culture in the School of English and Drama, at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of four books: Unlimited Action: The Performance of Extremity in the 1970s (2018); The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art (2015); Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture (2012); and Theatre & the Visual (2012). He is also the editor of five books, including most recently Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey (2013); and (with Deirdre Heddon) It’s All Allowed: The Performances of Adrian Howells (2016), for which he won the Annual Prize for Editing 2016 from TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association, UK). He is a co-editor (with Lois Keidan and CJ Mitchell) of the book series Intellect Live.
Peter Law produces interactive experiences that combine digital and live components. He has worked on award-winning games with Hide&Seek and Somethin’ Else, including the audio-only iPhone game Papa Sangre and a series of live games for Hide&Seek’s Sandpit events. He has gone on to work with the advertising agencies Mother and adam&eveDDB, as well as Tate Kids, Coney, ITV, BBC, Royal Opera House, National Maritime Museum and Random House. In the past he organised literary events and made programmes for BBC Radio 4.
Gill Lloyd, Treasurer
Gill Lloyd was co-director of Artsadmin (London) for over thirty years until retiring in 2018. Gill initially worked at Artsadmin as project manager on a range of initiatives – particularly projects from South Africa in negotiation with the African National Congress during the period leading to the end of apartheid and the cultural boycott. She also organised a large cultural festival (Zabalaza) for the ANC in London. She oversaw financial responsibility for Artsadmin and managed the organisation’s six-million pound building purchase and renovation, completed in 2007. www.artsadmin.co.uk
Gill has specialist knowledge and extensive interest in Southern African culture and has undertaken a lot of South African human rights campaigning activity on behalf of artists, working alongside late veteran politician Helen Suzman both pre- and post-apartheid. Gill is chair of People Show Board, a trustee of Hay2Timbuktu, the twinning organisation between Hay on Wye and Timbuktu, and on the advisory board for the vacuum cleaner.
Claire MacDonald is a writer, activist and Unitarian minister. She was a LADA Thinker in Residence in 2017/18 and has been involved in art and social action at the Garrett Centre for the past six years. Starting as a performance maker with Impact Theatre in Leeds in the late 1970s, her career has combined community engagement, performance making and writing with leadership posts in Higher Education and the cultural sector. She was a Judith Wilson Fellow at Cambridge University and Head of Theatre at Dartington College of Arts. She ran the Cambridge Darkroom Gallery in the early 1990s, and lived in Washington DC for seven years where she was Director of InterArts at George Mason University in Virginia. She is a Contributing Editor to PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, in New York, and co-founder (now a Consultant Editor) of the interdisciplinary arts journal, Performance Research, editing special issues on risk, silence, letters, and the voice. An interest in religion and ethics has run throughout her work. In essays such as ‘Tools for Conviviality’ (2008), ‘All Together Now: the History of Performance Collaboration’ (2012) and including the Congregation issue of Performance Research (2007), her writing has explored questions of what it means to be human in a secular world, and what the relationship might be between the sacred and lived experience. She holds a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia, and a Masters in the theology of the three Abrahamic Faiths from Heythrop College, University of London.
Jonathan is an arts programmer and creative producer. He is a trustee of Live Art Development Agency and Strike a Light. Most recently he was Director (maternity cover) for Abandon Normal Devices after completing his Clore Fellowship. Jonathan has been an arts programmer at British Council since 2015 working in the Americas and South Asia. Prior to that, he was Digital Producer at the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). Jonathan’s also become a dad recently, which is fun.
Shaheen Merali is a curator and writer, currently based in London. He explores the intersection of art, cultural identity and global histories in his work whilst previously he was a key lecturer at Central Saint Martins School of Art (1995-2003), a visiting lecturer and researcher at the University of Westminster (1997-2003) and Head of Department of Exhibition, Film and New Media at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2003-2008) where he curated several exhibitions accompanied by publications, including The Black Atlantic; Dreams and Trauma – Moving images and the Promised Lands; and Re-Imagining Asia, One Thousand Years of Separation. Merali was the co-curator of the 6th Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2006) and co-curator of Berlin Heist or the enduring fascination of walled cities for the 4th Mediations Biennale, Posnan, Poland (2014). He is currently organising a conference, 1989 This is Tomorrow—de-canonisation and decolonisation, with the 1989 Collective at the Courtauld Institute and working on his first metafictional novel, G.E.A. a reflection on historical memory, art and family across East Africa, India, Germany and the UK.
Dr. Amit S. Rai is Senior Lecturer in New Media and Communication in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary, University of London, and the convenor of the School’s MA in Creative Industries and Arts Organisation. He is the author of Rule of Sympathy: Race, Sentiment, and Power (Palgrave: 2002). His collaborative research spans Indian masculinity in film, anthropologies of monstrosity, colonial sympathy and humanitarianism, and practices of hacking in digital media. His study of new media in India, Untimely Bollywood: Globalization and India’s New Media Assemblage, was published by Duke University Press in 2009. His research analyzing forms of gender and caste power, capitalist valorization, and mobile phone networks in urban areas, forms the basis of Jugaad Time: Ecologies of Everyday Hacking in India, which was published by Duke University Press in 2019. He has been involved in LADA‘s RRR5: Managing the Radical project.
Susan Sheddan is currently Learning Convenor, Early Years and Families, Tate Modern and Tate Britain. She has worked across formal and informal arts engagement, participation programming and education for over twenty years as an artist-educator, art tutor, programmer, arts freelancer, audience development manager and education consultant, focused on groups across all ages and diverse cultural, socio-economic backgrounds. As a freelancer in New Zealand and in London at the Design Museum, Estorick Collection and House of Illustration, Susan devised teachers’ professional development programmes, lectured on Museum Studies MA’s and tutored undergraduate arts students. In her roles as Head of Schools and Teachers programme for Courtauld Institute of Art and Gallery, Hermitage Rooms, Gilbert Collection and the historic site of Somerset House, and as Education Manager at Turner Contemporary she devised and delivered widening participation and audience development strategies through contemporary, cross-disciplinary art practices. At Tate Britain and Tate Modern she held Curator roles on the Young Peoples, Families, Schools and Teachers programmes before moving into her current role.
Susan convened the Best Biennale conference, ‘Art Education in Transition: engaging audiences through performance and Live art’, Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, 2015; and co-convened ‘Playing Up: Live Art for Kids & Adults Symposium’, Tate Modern, London, 2016. Conference topics she’s spoken on in recent years include, pedagogy in arts practice, translating art practice strategies into participatory events, socially engaged practices in cultural mediation, cultural engagement through performance and Live art. Susan worked with Live Art Development Agency to co-produce two participatory artworks by Sibylle Peters, Playing Up, 2016, and KAPUTT: Academy of Destruction, 2017. Susan’s primary interest in facilitating engagement with art is as a vehicle for greater individual and collective cultural autonomy, agency and difference.
Gini Simpson is a freelance development consultant, and was most recently Head of Learning and Participation at the Barbican where she shaped and delivered new approaches to engagement with the arts, involving people of all ages across a diverse range of styles, genres and disciplines. Previously, Gini managed Business Development for the Creative Industries at Queen Mary University of London’s Innovation Unit, developing strategic planning around art and culture and promoting the University’s Knowledge Exchange agenda. From 2003-08, Gini was Head of Media Arts at SPACE in Hackney, an art/technology unit. Previous to this she worked for advertising agency BMP DDB (Interactive) as Design Director. She worked in interactive television during its inception and on some of the first on-line galleries in New York City. Gini is a trained artist and has exhibited internationally. She worked in Shoreditch in the early 90s, curating and producing Live Art in emergent venues. Gini is interested in Civil Rights activism, and works as part of Mental Health Civil Rights Movements as often as she can.
Cecilia Wee, Chair
Dr Cecilia Wee fRSA is a curator, researcher and educator who grew up in Thatcher’s London, working with experimental sound, performance, visual art and design practices, passionate about addressing issues of inequality and precarity in the cultural sector and beyond, with a focus on intersectional collaborative research; access and inclusion; infrastructures for artists that centre individuals from marginalised communities and identities. With a background in experimental music, Cecilia has been presenter/producer of hundreds of radio programmes on contemporary arts for London art radio station Resonance FM (2002-08), co-founder of interdisciplinary art event series Rational Rec (2005-2010), producer of large-scale interdisciplinary projects as Senior Producer at Sound and Music (2009-12), Research Tutor at the School of Communication, Royal College of Art (2013-18) where she developed the Sound pathway for the MA Information Experience Design, and was most recently Head of Artist Development/Producer at Artsadmin (2018-19). Cecilia’s independent curatorial and editorial projects explore ethical and relational approaches to the public sphere, economic systems, technology and security, commissioned by organisations including Akademie der Künste Berlin, Southbank Centre, Tate Public Programmes. Cecilia wrote her DPhil on the documentation of Live Art at University of Sussex.
Former Board members:
Chris Dorley Brown
Andrew Caleya Chetty