Meet Our Postdoctoral Fellows: Katherine Jackson

November 25, 2020 by Department of Art History

Katherine Jackson

SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow
2020 Faculty of Arts & Science Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

I am returning to the University of Toronto after completing my PhD at the University of British Columbia. Having done my masters work here, my postdoctoral work feels like coming home. I wanted to come back to the University of Toronto because of the supportive faculty that nurtured my masters experience and will provide the mentorship and resources necessary for my current project. Working with Elizabeth Legge, her expertise in British modern and contemporary art and the relationship between artists, institutions and government will be invaluable.

My postdoctoral research asks: What is the artist's role, if any, when the political left and right are presumed to have failed? In pursuit of this question, my work examines the Artist Placement Group (APG) in order to create the first complete critical record of the Group’s expansive and influential practice. The APG conducted over fifteen industrial and government artist placements in the U.K. and Western Europe throughout the 1970s. From meticulous primary research into the APG’s artists, the artwork produced during their placements and their socio-political context, my postdoctoral research will contribute a much needed reference material that will weave together the material and labor histories of the U.K. An endeavor that will draw many parallels with today’s political climate: the polarized crisis over Britain’s status in the EU (Brexit), the decline of the manufacturing industry and the disillusionment with left and right political parties. However, most importantly, my choice of the APG as the subject of my research will define a political moment of refusal that has the potential to redefine the historic relationship between art and ideology during the 1960s and 70s, and subsequently, its ramifications today.

While my postdoctoral work began in September during the pandemic, my approach to this research is rooted in my previous work as Flat Time House’s (the home and archive of British conceptual artist, John Latham) archivist from 2015-2018, my role as a visiting researcher at the Slade School of Fine Art (2018) and my collaboration with Barbara Steveni as the research specialist for the newest iteration of the APG titled, the Incidental Unit. My existing networks will be greatly enriched by the University of Toronto’s expansive library, interdisciplinary virtual workshops and lectures, and the resources available at the Jackman Humanities Institute. I greatly look forward to reconnecting with the faculty and making new collaborative relationships virtually and hopefully in person soon!