Dr Emma Mahony


Head of the Visual Culture BA Programme
Dr Emma Mahony

Dr Mahony’s current research investigates how publicly funded cultural institutions and grass roots community organisations adopt commoning strategies to resist and rewrite the neoliberalisation of the public art sector in Europe. She is a principal investigator on a MSC H2020 RISE transdisciplinary research action (grant €690,000), entitled Spatial Practices in Art and ArChitecture for Empathetic EXchange (SPACEX) 2022-26. Through secondments between 27 academic and cultural organisations, SPACEX will test, map, analyse and communicate the ways in which spatial practices in art, architecture and design instigate public exchange and promote empathetic ways of living together in urban space. The research project responds to the troubling rise of populist nationalism and conflict in European societies by engaging new publics and forging a culture that embraces diversity, difference, and discursive exchange within cities, towns and urban sites.

Dr Emma Mahony has worked as a lecturer on graduate and undergraduate programmes in the School of Visual Culture since 2009, where she is currently Course Leader for the BA in Visual Culture. She is also a principal investigator on a MSC H2020 RISE transdisciplinary research action (grant €690,000), entitled Spatial Practices in Art and ArChitecture for Empathetic EXchange (SPACEX) 2022-26. She sits on the editorial board of Art & the Public Sphere journal. From 2004-8 she was Exhibition Curator for Hayward Touring, Southbank Centre, London, and from 1999-2004 she worked as an exhibition organiser at a number of public and private art galleries in London including Hayward Gallery, Chisenhale Gallery, Jerwood Space and The Approach.

She was published widely on contemporary art, activism and curatorial studies as a contributor to peer reviewed journals including: Anarchist Studies Journal, FIELD A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism, Performance Research; Curator: The Museum Journal; Museum & Society, and Art & the Public Sphere. She is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Spatial Practices and the Urban Commons (with Melanie Jordan, Andrew Hewitt and Socrates Stratis forthcoming 01 January, 2026) and she has recently published a book chapter ‘From Institutional to Interstitial Critique: the resistant force that is liberating the neoliberal museum from below’, for the Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change (2021, eds. T.J Demos, E. E. Scott and S. Banerjee). In March 2023 she is co-organising a 2-day seminar on behavioural economics and commoning, entitled From Cultural Value to Social Wealth at NCAD in conjunction with the Spatial Practices in Art and ArChitecture for Empathetic Exchange EU research action, UCD and Project Art Centre. In 2019 she led the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) Summer School on Art and Politics and in 2016 she organised and chaired a symposium entitled Beyond Art Activism at IMMA. She has also been invited to take part in many public events at galleries and universities in Ireland and abroad, including University of Amsterdam (UvA); Loughborough University; BAK, Utrecht; and IMMA. She is a regular peer reviewer for a number of academic journals including Social Inclusion (Cogitatio Press); Curator: The Museum Journal (Wiley); Art & the Public Sphere, (Intellect); and Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association (Cultural Studies Association).

Books and Chapters

The Routledge Companion to Spatial Practices and the Urban Commons (co-edited with Melanie Jordan, Andrew Hewitt and Socrates Stratis). London: Routledge. Forthcoming: January, 2026.

‘From Institutional to Interstitial Critique: the resistant force that is liberating the neoliberal museum from below’, for the Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change (eds. T.J Demos, E. E. Scott and S. Banerjee). London: Routledge, 2021.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

‘Empty Plinths: The significance of absence’, Art & the Public Sphere, 9:3, Autumn 2021.

‘Beyond the neo-liberal value discourse towards a concept of social wealth’, Art & the Public Sphere, 9:1&2, December 2020.

‘Operating at a necessary distance from institutions: a case-study of the Barcelona based collective Enmedio’, Anarchist Studies Journal (forthcoming Spring 2019)

‘CURATORIAL ACTIVISM: TOWARDS AN ETHICS OF CURATING by Maura Reilly, London: Thames & Hudson, 2018. Curator: The Museum Journal, 61:3, July 2018, pp. 507-12 

‘Report from Ireland: Repealing the Eight Amendment’, FIELD A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism (forthcoming Winter 2018).

‘Opening spaces of resistance in the corporatized cultural institution: Liberate Tate and the Art Not Oil coalition’, Museum & Society, 15:2, July 2017, 127-41

‘Opening interstitial distances in the neoliberal university and its art schools’, On Radical Education special issue, Performance Research, 21:6, December 2016, pp. 51-6

‘Kerry Guinan’s Liberate Art’, Art & the Public Sphere, 3:1, July 2016, pp. 91-5

‘The Uneasy Relationship of Self Critique in the Public Art Institution’, Curator: The Museum Journal, 59:3, July 2016, pp. 219-38

‘Locating Simon Critchley’s “interstitial distance” in the practices of the Freee Art Collective and Liberate Tate’, Art & the Public Sphere, 3.1, December 2015, pp. 9-30

‘Where Do They Stand?’ Deviant Art Institutions and the Liberal Democratic State’, Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy, 1:1, September, 2013

‘dOCUMENTA (13): The Agency of Things’, Artefact, The Journal of the Irish Association of Art Historians, Issue 6, 2012, pp. 78-81

Commissioned Catalogue Essays

‘Three Keys to Understanding the Freee-Carracci-Institute as the Common’, Freee-Carracci-Institute. Northampton: NN Contemporary, October 2017, p. 53-6

Today I joined a gang in the woods. Cork: Cork Printmakers/Triskel Arts Centre, December 2009

‘On Telling Tall Tales’, Cult Fiction: Art and Comics. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing, May 2007

Artist’s entries, British Art Show 6. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing, September 2005

‘Dan Graham: Sunset over Waterloo Bridge’, Waterloo Sunset at the Hayward Gallery. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing, September 2003

‘Bad Behaviour’, Bad Behaviour from the Arts Council Collection. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing October, 2003

‘Anyone can play guitar’, Air Guitar. Milton Keynes: Milton Keynes Gallery Publishing, July 2002

‘On Democracy and Demophony’, Democracy!. London: Royal College of Art, April 2000


Magazine Articles

‘Reviewing the Reviewers: EXIT Limerick 2012’, The Visual Artists’ News Sheet, Issue 13, July-August, 2012

‘Francis Alÿs, A Story of Deception, Tate Modern’, Circa, Autumn 2010.

‘Jorge Pardo, Irish Museum of Modern Art’, Circa, Summer 2010

‘The House on the Hill; Jorge Pardo’, Circa, Autumn 2001

‘When Artists Become Popstars’, Circa, Summer 2000

‘When Art Becomes Life’, Circa, Summer 1999.



‘Mixed reactions to climate activism in galleries’, The Art Show, ABC Radio National. Australia. Broadcast Tue 29 Nov 2022 at 5:00pm. https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-art-show/imants-tillers-glenn-barkley-/14110754

Ables Kelsey, ‘More activists are gluing themselves to art. Their tactics aren’t new’, The Washington Post, 27 Oct 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2022/10/27/climate-activists-glue-art-trend/

From Cultural Value to Social Wealth, SPACEX Training Event, Co-Organiser and Chair, NCAD, UCD and Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 2-3 March 2023

IMMA Summer School on Art & Politics, Chair and Speaker, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 17-21 June, 2019.

‘Spatial Practices in Art and ArChitecture for an Empathetic Society’, Lund Urban Creativity Conference 2019, Lund University, Sweden, 15-18 May 2019

‘Towards an Art and Education of the Common’, iJADE Conference 2017: Art and Design as Agent for Change, National College of Art and Design, 17-18 November 2017

‘Imagining a Post-neoliberal Art and Educational Landscape’, The Humanities under Neoliberalism / The University Under Neoliberalism, UCD Humanities Institute, 6 October 2017

‘Beyond Art Activism: Rewriting Art’s Neoliberal Value System’, Chair and Organiser, Symposium, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 26 October, 2016. Speakers include: Dave Beech, Mel Evans, Andy Hewitt, Mel Jordan, Jonas Staal and Kerry Guinan

‘Interstitial Distance as a Technique of Protest in the Practice of Liberate Tate’, Techniques of Art and Protest, King’s College, London, 18 September 2015

‘Locating Simon Critchley’s Interstitial Distance in the Artistic Practices of the Freee Art Collective and Liberate Tate’, To Hell With Culture, MMU, Manchester, 30 October 2014

‘Mapping the Strategies of Resistance Utilized by the Protestors in the 2011 Cycle of Struggles onto the Art Institutional Landscape’, Performing Protest: Re-Imagining the Good Life in Times of Crisis, KU Leuven, 8-10 May 2014

‘The Role of the Nation State in the Constitution of a Deviant Art Institution’, Crisis & Critique of the State: Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference 2013, Goldsmiths, University of London, 25-26 October 2013

‘Imagining a Public Sphere for the Deviant Art Institution’, Reconciliation & Reconstruction: Artistic and cultural praxes in the transitional and contested territory of urban public space. Critical Legal Conference, Queens University, Belfast, 5-7 September 2013

‘The Deviant Art Institution and the Public Sphere’, Irish Association of Art Historians Study Day, 20 April 2013

‘What is a Deviant Art Institution?’, National Gallery of Ireland Study Day, 06 March 2013

Today I joined a gang in the woods, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, December 2009
An exhibition selected from work by members of the Cork Printmaker’s Association. Including work by: Feargal Cunningham, Marianne Keating, Jo Kelley, John Kelly, Bríd Moynahan, Noelle Noonan and Sylvia Taylor

Cult Fiction: Art and Comics, New Art Gallery, Walsall & Touring, May 2007-March 2008
Co-curated with Kim Pace. Toured to Leeds City Art Gallery; Aberystwyth Arts Centre; and Tullie House, Carlisle. Including work by: Laylah Ali, Liz Craft, Marcel Dzama, Kerry James Marshall, Raymond Pettibon and David Shrigley

100 Ideas: An Evening of Off the Wall Artists’ Lectures, Hayward Gallery, London, February 2007
Featuring performances by Marcus Coates, Doug Fishbone, Becky Shaw and Bedwyr Williams

Hayward/Bloomberg Commissions, Hayward Gallery, London, January 2005-December 2006
Curator of a series of new commissions by Nils Norman and Hiraki Sawa

British Art Show 6, Baltic Arts Centre, Newcastle & Touring, September 2005-January 2006 Exhibition Organiser.
Toured to venues across the cities of Manchester; Nottingham and Bristol. Featuring work by Tomma Abts Phil Collins, Mark Leckey, Rosalind Nashashibi

Bad Behaviour from the Arts Council Collection, Longside Gallery, Yorkshire & Touring, November 2003-May 2005
Toured to Aberystwyth Arts Centre; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; and The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. Including work by Claire Barclay, Martin Creed, Jim Lambie, Sarah Lucas and Grayson Perry

Clerkenwell Film and Video Festival, Clerkenwell, London, July 2005

About Face: Photography and the Death of the Portrait, Hayward Gallery, June–September 2004

Douglas Gordon: What Have I Done, Hayward Gallery, November 2002–January 2003. Assistant Curator

Sam Taylor-Wood, Hayward Gallery, April–June 2002. Assistant Curator

Air Guitar: Art and Rock Music, Milton Keynes Gallery & Touring, June 2002-May 2003
Toured to Cornerhouse, Manchester; Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham; and Tullie House, Carlisle. Including work by Sam Durant, Christian Marclay, Bob & Roberta Smith, Frances Stark, Jessica Voorsanger and Stephen Willats

‘Submitting a MSCA RISE action’, MSCA - RISE Call 2019 Information Event, UKRO, London, January 2019

‘Field and Academy: Knowledge and Counter Knowledge in Socially Engaged Art’, Chair, NCAD, Create and Fire Station Artist’s Studios, Dublin November 2017

‘What if NCAD was a Soviet?’, NCAD, Dublin November 2017

‘Martha Rosler, Visiting Fellow’, University of Amsterdam, January 2017

‘Art and Democratic Deviance’, Politicized Practice Research Group, Loughborough University, 14 December 2016

‘Resisting the neoliberal art school’, Strijd: Art, Activism and the University, BAK, Utrecht, 18 May 2016

‘Mel Evans of Liberate Tate in Conversation with Emma Mahony’, NCAD, Dublin, May 2015

‘Hélio Oiticica: Art and Crisis,’ IMMA, Dublin, September 2014

‘Introducing Tino Sehgal,’ IMMA, Dublin, April 2013

‘Andrea Schlieker in Conversation with Emma Mahony,’ NCAD, Dublin, May 2009

‘The Influence of Comics on Contemporary Art’, Nottingham Castle and Leeds City Art Gallery, April & July 2007

‘British Art Show 6’, venues across Nottingham and Bristol, April & August 2006

‘Selecting British Art Show 6’, Clifford Chance, London, September 2006

‘Curatorial Practice,’ UCCA, Kent, March 2006

‘Hiraki Sawa’, Bloomberg Offices, London, January 2005

‘About Face’, Hayward Gallery, London, June-September 2005

‘Bad Behaviour’, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham, May 2004