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Dr Joanne Morra

Professor of Art and Culture
Central Saint Martins
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Researcher Research
Joanne  Morra


Joanne Morra is Professor of Art and Culture at Central Saint Martins, and Programmes Research Director. Committed to art education, she has taught fine art students over the past 25 years. Her research and publications focus on artistic and psychoanalytic practices as personal, social, and political forces of individual and collective transformation. She is also the Founder of two journals: 'Journal of Visual Culture' (2000 – 2021), and the cultural studies and philosophy journal 'Parallax' (1995-2000).

Joanne studied at the University of Leeds (PhD in Art History and Theory, and MA in Feminism and the Visual Arts), and before that at the University of Toronto (MA in History of Art, and BA Hons in History of Art and English).

She joined Central Saint Martins in 2001 as the BA Fine Art Co-ordinator for Historical and Theoretical Studies (2001-9), and in 2014 co-founded The Doctoral Platform at CSM. She supervises PhD students, and continues to teach on the Art Programme.

Joanne’s research and publications address the intersections between the psycho-social aspects of making, viewing and writing about art, and the histories, theories and practices of psychoanalysis. This conjunction has come out of several contexts: that of the art school, contemporary art, the museum/gallery, psychoanalysis and feminism; and their individual and collective spaces of practice (the studio, the classroom, the study, the museum, and the consulting room). Taking a psycho-social view of art and psychotherapy – one that engages the individual and the social world – Joanne’s work contributes to our understanding of subjectivity, mental health, and the political power of artistic practice.

Her recent publications include the book 'Inside the Freud Museums: History, Memory and Site-Responsive Art' (2018). Here she combines a sustained re-visiting of psychoanalysis (its therapeutic practices and institutional histories) and contemporary art’s psycho-social and political import, in order to posit the dynamic concept of site-responsivity as a means of rethinking the relationship between art and site.

She has also written on the emotional and affective experiences of making and encountering contemporary art such as intimacy, trauma, loss, anxiety and crying; as well as art’s contribution to our understanding of psychoanalytic processes and techniques, such as working-through, transference, potential space, use, and afterwardsness.

At present Joanne is working on two projects:

She is reading a host of recently published auto-theoretical/-historical/-fictional books written (mainly) by women (of colour).

She is also working on her book, 'Holding Art' in which she provides a sustained encounter between contemporary art, psychotherapy, feminism, and women’s representations of their lived experience in times of personal, political and social crisis, change and equilibrium.

Joanne has worked collaboratively for many years, and has co-founded two journals and co-edited many volumes. In 2019 she embarked on a collaborative project with Judy Willcocks (Head of Museums and Archives at Central Saint Martins) entitled 'Creative Practices, Education and Wellbeing'. This research project and network addressed health and wellbeing through art and design practices, pedagogy and cultural engagement. Her collaborative research project with Emma Talbot entitled 'Intimacy Unguarded' culminated in a special issue of 'Journal of Visual Art Practice' (2017). She has also co-edited two issues of 'Journal of Visual Culture', '50 Years of 'Art and Objecthood': Traces, Impact, Critique' with Alison Green (2017) and 'Acts of Translation' with Mieke Bal (2007). Before that, she co-edited a series of issues of 'Parallax' with Marquard Smith: 'To Jean-François Lyotard' (2000); 'The Re-Interpretation of Dreams' (2000); 'Translator’s Ink' (2000); 'Translating 'Algeria'' (1998); 'Kojève’s Paris/Now Bataille' (1997); 'Dissonant Feminisms' (1996); 'Theory/Practice' (1996); and 'Cultural Studies and Philosophy (1995)'.

Joanne’s research has been funded by: Arts Council of England, AHRB, The Leverhulme Trust; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Commonwealth Scholarship Commission; Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Joanne has been invited to give lectures in the UK and abroad at for instance: Aarhaus University; Bigli University; Clark Art Institute; Gothenburg University; Harvard University; Hong-Ik University; National Gallery of Art Warsaw; Royal College of Art, Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna; University of Edinburgh; University of Glasgow; European Humanities University of Lithuania/Belarus; University of Bergen; University of Zurich; and ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

She is a member of various Boards and Committees such as: Advisory Board of journal 'New Formations'; Board Member of Nida Doctoral School; Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council; and Research Associate of the Freud Museum London; she was a long-term Founding Executive Board Member of International Association of Visual Culture; and Member of the AHRC Peer Review College.