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Dr Joanne Morra

Professor of Art and Culture
Central Saint Martins
Email address
Researcher Research
Giovanna  Morra


Joanne Morra is Professor of Art and Culture at Central Saint Martins. 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 – present), 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.

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.

Joanne 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 three main research projects:

First, a book entitled, In the Studio and On the Couch: Art, Autobiography and Psychoanalysis which provides a sustained encounter between contemporary art, psychotherapy, feminism and women’s artistic representations of their lived experience as a form of ‘holding’ in times of personal, political and social crisis, change and equilibrium.

Second, a short book on contemporary art, feminism and women's experience of IVF.

Third, a 4-year collaborative project (begun in 2019) entitled Creative Practices, Education and Wellbeing with Judy Willcocks (Head of Museums and Archives at Central Saint Martins). This research project and network aims to address health and wellbeing through art and design practices, pedagogy and cultural engagement.

Joanne has founded two journals and edited many volumes. She is Founding Principal Editor of Journal of Visual Culture (2000 - present) and guest edited two issues, 50 Years of 'Art and Objecthood': Traces, Impact, Critique with Alison Green (2017) and Acts of Translation with Mieke Bal (2007). Joanne’s collaborative project with Emma Talbot entitled Intimacy Unguarded culminated in a special issue of Journal of Visual Art Practice (2017). Before that, she was Founder and Editor of the journal Parallax (1995-2000) during which time she co-edited with Marquard Smith a series of volumes entitled: 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: Founding Executive Board Member of International Association of Visual Culture; Member of the AHRC Peer Review College; Advisory Board of New Formations; Board Member of Nida Doctoral School; Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council; and Associate of the Freud Museum London.

Research Outputs

Conference, Symposium or Workshop item




Current research students

  • Evdoxia Baniotopoulou, Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis: A Case Study of Institutional Curating of Contemporary Art in an Urban Context. (Lead supervisor)
  • Sasha Burkhanova, The (co-constitutive) ethics of a contemporary art curator, Central Saint Martins. (Joint supervisor)
  • Sophie Carapetian, The Work of Art in the Age of Crisis: Interrogating the ‘Labour Turn’ in the Culture Industries. (Lead supervisor)
  • Louise Garrett, The Star of Hesitation and Delay: Conditions of Uncertainty in Contemporary Art Practice (Lead supervisor)
  • Sława Harasymowicz, Double Exposure: Memory, Post Memory and Autobiography as Practice (Lead supervisor)
  • Aviva Leeman, Reading the Material Text: Interactions between Art, Word, Object and Audience (Lead supervisor)
  • Silvana Macedo, From Fine Art to Natural Science through Allegory. (Lead supervisor)
  • Aaron John Matthews, Derrida, and Writing the Events of 1968. (Lead supervisor)
  • Zoe Mendelson, Psychologies and Spaces of Accumulation: The Hoard as Collagist Methodology (and other stories). (Lead supervisor)
  • George Unsworth, The World is Getting Smaller: How spatial and temporal resources influence the production of contemporary art. (Lead supervisor)
  • Anne Wainwright, A Ship of One's Own (Joint supervisor)

Past research students

  • Sasha Burkhanova, The co-constitutive ethics of a contemporary art curator. (Lead supervisor)
  • Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari, The materiality of photography and the memory of the Armenian Genocide. (Lead supervisor)