Dr Brad Butler

Profile image of Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Post Doctoral Research Fellow

London College of Communication


Brad Butler is a filmmaker, artist and co-founder (with artist Karen Mirza) of no.w.here, an artist-run space for moving image practices.

no.w.here’s role as a cooperative environment is related to the centering of Mirza & Butler’s own practice upon collaboration, dialogue and the social. Since 2007 this has emerged as The Museum of Non Participation. This body of work launched via an Artangel Interaction commission, which included a month-long public programme behind a Bethnal Green barbers (2009) and a collaboration with the largest circulating Pakistani broadsheet, The Daily Jang.

Film work includes Deep State (2012) - a science fiction-inflected protest "training film”, Hold Your Ground a video conceived as a form of protest in Canary Wharf Tube Station and the installation: The Unreliable Narrator (2014) on political intimacy, terrorism and the condition of permanent emergency.

Research interests

Deep state, experimental film, permanent emergency, unreliable narration, non participation, power, terrorism and conspiracy.

Research statement

Brad Butler’s work is framed as a fictional institution. This Museum of Non Participation confronts (non) participation and the socio-political in art works. ‘Non Participation’ is not a negation, it is a threshold—a political plastic that expands and contracts, that is both unstable and malleable. This is an international neoliberal life condition, frequently (un) consciously exercised in the excess of one's own society, often gained at the expense of another's nameless plight elsewhere. Whilst locally it can be witnessed, for example, in the moment urgent social issues are both recognized and simultaneously ignored or rejected. It is also a structure including, in the UK, the filtering of government and corporate policies and agendas through the arts and arts funding.  

Museums interrelate hierarchy and exclusion, social critique and (post) colonization. So The Museum of Non Participation embeds its institutional critique in its very title — yet it releases itself from being an actual museum. Instead it travels as a place, a slogan, a banner, a performance, a newspaper, a film, an intervention, an occupation— sitautions that enable this museum to “act.” Thus the Museum of Non Participation does not disavow art objects, but it is driven to dislodge them from their central position within the field of art. To choose to look past the art object to the etymology of “object,” from the Latin obicere, meaning to present, oppose, or cast or throw in the way of.

This Museum explores obicere through multiple, ephemeral processes: artworks as well as events and actions that neither the founding artists nor museums possess through sole authorship. In a similar vein, The Museum of Non Participation approaches “collecting” as not merely assembling objects, but as an act that assembles and ushers forth action and agency and does so through disruption. It asks how withdrawal can be made visible? How can ‘non participation’ be active and critical?


Margareta Kern, How can the ‘essay film’ make visible invisible forms of extrastatecraft?

Onyeka IgweUnbossed and Unbound: How can critical proximity activate the Imperial Archive?

Iana Stepanova, What Collectivist and Participatory Approaches to Filmmaking need to be applied to investigate Film as Public Space?

Jaime PeschieraThe Eye that Cries: How might autoethnography investigate aphasia in Peru’s post-colonial memory debate?

Mario Abou Hamad, De-essentialising the Syrian: can Physical Cinema transgress reductionist discourse?

Sandra Schäfer: Substitute | State and the militant image

Project awards, and grants

2015, Winner of the Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Artists
2014, Nominated for the Artes Mundi Award 6 for artists with a social practice.
2012, Nominated for the Jarman Award
2012, Creative Capital Award for Direct Speech Acts

Selected research outputs