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Dr Sandra Johnston

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

Department: Arts

Sandra Johnston is a visual artist from Northern Ireland, working in the areas of site-responsive performance, drawing and video installations.

The performance actions are experiential in nature, developed from the direct revelations of a body inhabiting space, light, motion and often being stimulated by the behaviour of random audiences. Each work is developed from carefully observing the tensions that exist between the history of locations, set in dialogue with the vibrancy and insistence of the passing moment.

Johnston has presented work internationally since 1992 in a diverse range of contexts and interdisciplinary forms, often with a particular emphasis on projects within ‘contested spaces’. Between 2002/05 as an AHRC Research Fellow based at the University Of Ulster in Belfast, she developed a practice-based investigation into issues of ‘trauma of place’. This research explored how aspects of collective memory connected to specific locations can become altered after violent events, creating layers of stigmatisation, or conversely, commemoration. From 2009/ 2012 this research extended as a PhD project entitled - Beyond Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation of Doubt, Risk and Testimony Through Performance Art Processes in Relation to Systems of Legal Justice.

Throughout her career Johnston has collaborated extensively with other artists, occasionally through participation in international performance laboratories, and also as a co-founder and committee member of various artist-run collectives in Belfast, namely: CATALYST ARTS, BBEYOND, and AGENCY.

Exhibitions & Publications

0191 2437085


2009-2012 PhD Research project, University of Ulster, Belfast

1996-97 PEPINIERES EUROPEENES POUR JEUNES ARTISTES, Scholarship in Electronic Media, hosted jointly by AKI. Akademie voor Beeldente Kunst, and The City Council of Enschede, Holland.

1991-1992 M.A. Fine Art University of Ulster, Belfast
1988-1991 B.A. HONORS Fine Art (First Class) Kent Institute of Art & Design, Canterbury
1987-1988 FOUNDATION Art & Design Course, University of Ulster, Belfast

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

I have ten years of supervisory experience at both postgraduate and undergraduate level at the University of Ulster in Belfast, based within the sculpture department and the MA Art in Public course.

One year involvement with the MFA Public Art and New Artistic Strategies Programme at the Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany as both Guest Professor and external examiner.

Experience of facilitating internationally workshops in performance art.

My own research has often raised issues about the potential of creative interactions within ‘contested spaces’, especially approaches to the aftermath of trauma and acts of commemoration.

Currently I am interested in exploring concepts of human-scale monuments and creative actions that exist on the cusp of public visibility- both as artworks and as activist interventions. This research involves ideas of physical silence, proximity awareness and the most subtle aspects of the act of encounter.

Professional Activity

2002/2005 awarded an Arts Humanities & Research Council Research Fellowship, based at the University Of Ulster in Belfast. This research position also involved extensive teaching commitments within the Fine Art department.

2005/2012 permanent teaching post as Lecturer in Time-Based Art at the University of Ulster.

2007/08 selected to be the "Ré Soupault" Guest Professor at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, teaching on the M.F.A Public Art and New Artistic Strategies Programme and subsequently returning as an external examiner.


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