Dr Ana Bilbao

Profile image of Editor and a Research Fellow at Afterall Journal

Editor and a Research Fellow at Afterall Journal

Central Saint Martins


Ana is an editor and a Research Fellow at Afterall Journal in Central Saint Martins.

Ana has a PhD in Art History and Theory with specialisation in Curatorial Theory and Practice at the University of Essex. She has a BA in Art History and Curating at UDLAP in Mexico (Magna Cum Laude), a Diploma in Museum Studies at Leeds University, and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the University of Essex (with Distinction).

She also works as a part-time teacher at the University of Essex and teaches in the BA in Art History and in the MA in Curating. Ana previously worked in Arts Education in the Communications and External Relations Office at Essex, as well as an outreach tutor. She worked in the curatorial team of The Minories Art Galleries and as exhibitions organiser at Smiths Row Gallery. Before coming to the UK, she worked in Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo (the most important contemporary art fair in Latin America) and in Galería GARCO as a curator. She participated in the project ‘Nothing You Ever Wanted to Know About Curating: The Interview’ at Kynastonmcshine Gallery in London, and she also co-curated the exhibition ‘Organization of Dirt’ at Temple Works, Leeds. Ana was an active member of the SMC at the Association of Art Historians.

Research interests

Small Visual Arts Organisations (SVAOs)
The History of Exhibition Making from the Renaissance to the present
New Institutionalism and Experimental Institutionalism
World Art
Artist-Run Spaces
Curatorial Theory and Practice
Art Theory
Modern and Contemporary Art

Research statement

My research is centred on the emergence and proliferation of Small Visual Arts Organisations (SVAOs) in various parts of the world from the 1990s-present. I approach the transdisciplinary curatorial strategies developed by these small arts spaces as crucial to understanding the broader arts ecology of our time. Most significantly I see SVAOs as a missing piece in the history of exhibition-making.

More generally speaking, I am deeply interested in the history of display from the cabinet of curiosities to the present. I seek to investigate if and how the diverse modes of addressing in different moments throughout the history of display (in its broader understanding) have legitimised, subverted, or created distinctive subjective trajectories. My research is concerned with the politics of display, as well as with the question of whether the exhibitionary complex has the potential to foster transformative experiences for the public.

I am also interested in the historical development of contemporary visual art at a global level, as well as on its public reception and social and political functions.

Project awards, and grants

2016 Awarded the Thomas Puttfarken Research Prize to attend CAA Annual Conference, Washington.

2013 Awarded a Sir Andrew Carnwath Prize to undertake a research trip to Indonesia.

2013 Awarded the Blomfield Travel Grant to undertake a research trip to Indonesia.

2012-2016 Holly Crawford Scholarship to undertake my research project about Small Visual Arts Organisations (SVAOs), University of Essex.