Professor Oriana Baddeley

Profile image of Dean of Research

Dean of Research

University of the Arts London


Professor Oriana Baddeley is Dean of Research at UAL, she is also a member of the research centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN).

She studied History and Theory of Art at the University of Essex. Her doctoral subject, researching the historiography of definitions of ‘art’ in relation to Ancient Mexico, formed the basis for work on the 1992 Hayward exhibition, The Art of Ancient Mexico. She has written extensively on contemporary Latin American art, including Drawing the Line: Art and Cultural Identity in Contemporary Latin America (Verso 1989, co-author Valerie Fraser) and collaborated with Gerardo Mosquera to produce Beyond the Fantastic: Art Criticism from Contemporary Latin America (inIVA/MIT 1996). With Toshio Watanabe and Partha Mitter, (2001–04), she worked on a major AHRC funded project, Nation, Identity and Modernity: Visual Culture of India, Japan and Mexico, 1860s–1940. She is on the Inter-national Advisory Committee of the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art, and the editorial board of Art History, is a Trustee of the St Catherine Foundation in London and New York, and the Ashley Family Foundation.

Research interests

An art historian and cultural theorist, I am continuing to research around issues of cultural stereotype and ideas of authenticity, particularly looking at the associations of death, gender and danger with cultural otherness.

Research statement

As a co-founder of the UAL research centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN), my research is undertaken within the context of globalization, identity studies and contemporary art practice. My earlier doctoral research grew out of attempting to understand the values and meanings of the ancient cultures of the Americas and the ways in which colonization and the discourses of post-colonialism had impacted on the interpretation of those cultures.

With a focus on Mexico and Latin America, I have also worked in detail on the histories of ‘exhibiting’ the art of these regions and explored how traditions of display and categorization have been responded to within the global structures of contemporary art expositions.

Running throughout much of my writing has been a fascination with the ways in which different geographic contexts impact on definitions of creative practice and how such definitions are then interpreted. In recent years, my publications have included a comparative discussion of the work of Ernesto Neto and Gabriel Orozco, and an exploration of the work of Teresa Margolles in relation to stereotypes of Mexican identity. From 2011, working with a previously unknown archive of his work, I have curated an exhibition of Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas that explored themes of identity and myth in the area of travel photography.

More recent research revolves around what constitutes the ‘indigenous’ in the contemporary context of the transnational.


Current students and thesis titles

Elizabeth Manchester, From the inside out: Models of language from the vagina.

Amy McDonnell,Why do we Associate?: Artists' Group Work between Cuba and the UK.

Madeline Yale, Import/Export: The Rise of Contemporary Photography from the Middle East.

Completed students and thesis titles

Marcela Montoya Ortega, Re-situation the Cultural Meanings of Lucha Libre Mexicana: A Practice-Based Exploration of Diasporic Mexicaness.

Maria Arango Velasquez, Drawing the mechanics of memory in the context of an ever-present violence in Colombia: a contemporary art practice considered through practice–led research.

Voon pow Barlett, Spectacle as myth: The relational and the quotidian in contemporary Chinese art (2005-2008).

Norma Copa-Schenke, Exposed Visions: Disappearance and re-appearance of the Indigenous in Patagonia.

Cindy Lisica, Superflat Art: Meaning and Merchandise for the 21st Century.

Mara Romero Ramirez, Limp, laced-case binding in parchment on sixteenth-century Mexican printed books.

Nenita Simoes, Culture and Politics: Interventions by the Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil's Landless Movement.

Zoe Tillotson, Ephemeral Art; A Philosophical Proposition About the Nature of Time and Being.

Selected research outputs