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Prof Gavin Butt


Department: Arts

Gavin Butt is a scholar of modern and contemporary art whose work contributes to the fields of art history & visual culture, performance and queer studies and popular music studies. Trained as a fine artist and art historian, he is a writer, curator and filmmaker.

Butt was formerly Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London, Attenborough Chair in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex, and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Currently I am co-chair of Northumbria's Contemporary Arts Research Forum.

Gavin Butt

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Butt is interested in the relations between experimental arts practices located within cultural institutions and those DIY, queer, popular and/or punk arts which have either historically challenged them from without or continue to mine the possibilities of alternative world-making within arts communities today.

From a book on gossip and queerness in the New York art world to a curatorial project on the trash aesthetics of performance, a monograph on post-punk music in the art school to a feature film exploring artists' DIY use of moving-image technology, Butt has variously explored the political and cultural promise of working at the margins of institutional recognition and critical seriousness.    

He is currently developing a new exhibition project with Prof. Heike Roms (Exeter) 'Live Class: Performance and the British Art School'.

His book 'No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk' is forthcoming from Duke University Press in early 2022. He is co-editor (with Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun) of Post-Punk Then and Now, Repeater, 2016.

He has variously published on "seriousness" in queer art and performance including essays on the work of David Hoyle, Oreet Ashery, Kiki and Herb, Bird La Bird, Charles Ludlam, Joe Brainard, Jason Holiday and others. He is co-author (with Irit Rogoff) of Visual Cultures as Seriousness, Sternberg, 2013.

In 2013 he made his first feature length documentary film, co-directed with journalist Ben Walters, This is Not a Dream. Butt was also co-director of Performance Matters (2009-2013), a creative research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, a collaboration between Goldsmiths, Roehampton University and the Live Art Development Agency.

He is author of Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World 1948-1963 (Duke 2005) and editor of After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance (Blackwell 2004).



Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Without Walls: Performance Art and Pedagogy at the ‘Bauhaus of the North’, Butt, G. 2020, In: Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
  • Bauhaus Imaginista, Butt, G. 15 Mar 2019
  • Bedsit Art in the Leeds Experiment, Butt, G. 15 Mar 2019, bauhaus imaginista, Berlin
  • Polytechnics and Punks: The 1970s After-Life of the Bauhaus, Butt, G. 21 Mar 2019, Bauhaus Imaginista, London & New York, Thames and Hudson
  • Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus, Butt, G. 2019
  • Introduction: The Queer Commons, Millner-Larsen, N., Butt, G. 1 Oct 2018, In: GLQ
  • Post-Punk Then and Now, Butt, G., Eshun, K., Fisher, M. 15 Sep 2016
  • Performance Matters: Gavin Butt, Lois Keidan and Adrian Heathfield in Conversation, Butt, G., Heathfield, A., Keidan, L. 2014, In: Contemporary Theatre Review
  • Welcome to the TV Party, Butt, G. 17 Feb 2014, Take It or Leave It, Hammer Museum
  • Performance Matters Archive, Butt, G., Heathfield, A., Keidan, L. 2013

PGR Supervision

Jasper Llewellyn ‘Making Up Life: Improvisation In, and Of, the Ordinary' Start Date: 01/09/2021


  • History of Art PhD June 01 1998
  • History of Art MA October 01 1990
  • Fine Art BA (Hons) July 01 1989

Curating, filmmaking and project organising

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