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Amelia Jones

Amelia Jones*

Professor and Grierson Chair in Visual Culture

Amelia Jones practices a queer, anti-racist, feminist history and theory of twentieth- and twenty-first century Euro-American visual arts, including performance, film, video, and installation—articulated in relation to increasingly global frameworks.

Jones is the author of a number of books including Postmodernism and the En-Gendering of Marcel Duchamp (1994), and Body Art/Performing the Subject(1998), Irrational Modernism: A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada(1994), and Self-Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject (2006). This latter book expands on her work on body art, exploring the experience and understanding of the self in relation to performances of the body via technologies of representation from analogue photography to the Internet. It is linked to Jones's new research on the problematic of identity or identification in relation to visuality and Euro-American histories and practices of contemporary art and visual culture broadly construed; this latter interest finds its way into a number of articles published in journals from Art History to Parallax and The Drama Review and the book Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts (2012). Seeing Differently offers a history and theory of ideas about identity in relation to visual arts discourses and practices in Euro-American culture, tracing the rise of identity politics in the mid-twentieth-century and critically examining debates in art discourse about "gaze theory," "post-identity" movements, and "multiculturalism."  The book covers case studies of art practices exploring aspects of how we identify in relation to visual images, and offers a new theory of how to think issues of identification in relation to visual culture. 

Jones has curated exhibitions, including Sexual Politics (1996, UCLA/Hammer Museum) and Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art (2013, Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal). She has organized performance and creative events including Theorising Queer Visualities (2005), Faith and Identity in Contemporary Visual Culture (2006), and Fluid States: Trans- Montréal, for the Performance Studies International 2015. And she has edited volumes such Contemporary Art, 1945-2003 (2005) and Feminism and Visual Culture Reader (new edition, 2010), which collectively attempt to rethink standard chronologies and modes of thinking about areas of visual culture studies and art history by including voices previously marginalized, or otherwise not fully accounted for, in debates and histories of these fields. Strategically, as with Jones's curating and single-authored books, these aim to provide new ways of thinking histories of art and ideas that work in productive tension with existing dominant histories. This goal of (un)doing and/or rethinking art's histories (including the very structures through which these histories unfold and are institutionally embedded) is also reflected in the new series Jones is co-editing with Marsha Meskimmon at University of Manchester Press, entitled "Rethinking Art's Histories."

Jones's research is also at the forefront of the surge of interest in retrieving histories of feminist art and histories of performance or live art practices from the 1960s and 1970s. She has published major essays on feminist curatorial practices as well as an article on  Marina Abramović's recent projects re-enacting body art works from the past and staging herself as an artwork (in The Drama Review, Spring 2011).  Her new book, co-edited with Adrian Heathfield, Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History (Intellect Press, 2012) includes a range of primary documents, artist's projects, and academic articles examining the issues surrounding historicizing ephemeral, live art practices. 

Jones's teaching presents canonical as well as marginal practices across twentieth- and twenty-first century cultural practices, seeking to present contingent histories of art, performance, and visual culture and their discursive and theoretical frameworks. Jones's courses integrate intellectual histories of various modes of critical thought, including those articulated through art practice and criticism, philosophy, and identity politics (among others). These courses are suited to both art history specialists/majors and those interested in these issues coming from other disciplines such as architecture and urban planning, gender and sexuality studies, history, philosophy, and comparative literature.

Jones welcomes in particular inquiries from any potential graduate students interested in these approaches and areas of research—or in other areas that might push her to think otherwise.


The photograph is of Amelia Jones being interviewed at the Centre Pompidou Elles! exhibition (photograph courtesy Paul C. Donald, © 2009).