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The Department of Architecture, cordially invites you to the lecture “Performative Architectures: Subject, Performance and the Body” by Helen Stratford, architect, artist and practice-led PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield.

Helen Stratford’s work and research explores how public spaces and cities are produced and performed through everyday activities and routines. How people occupy and have different/clashes of interest in particular public spaces. And how these occupations or actions challenge the visions set up by city planners/authorities and architects.

This research has long been part of her practice both individually and in collaboration with other artists and architects. Located between visual art, architecture writing and performance, and informed by a feminist approach that rethinks places through the way they are practices and performed, her work uses performative research as design practice to engage with and make visible different spatial perceptions and ways of constructing knowledge about place. Informed by notions of performativity read through Rosi Braidotti’s reconception of human being as a ‘dynamic inter-related aggregate’ and Karen Barad’s onto-epistemology or ‘knowing in being’, it is not only about making things visible but also provoking people to actively re-perform the spaces they occupy every day.

About the Lecture

In this lecture, Helen will talk about 3 tactics or ways of working in her practice that open up questions around how cities and public places are performed and practiced. The first one explores performative actions as research. The second makes every day and overlooked action visible by recasting them as performances that produce public space. The third explores choreographing site specific and self-facilitated events that build on existing practices and set up frameworks for rethinking how public places are performed and produced. Of course these strategies are not distinct from each other and overlap in each project but for the purposes of the lecture she’ll talk about 3 projects that embody each strategy, then finish with one that embodies them all and expand on how this practice figures within the framework of her current PhD research.

About Helen Stratford

Helen Stratford is an architect, artist and part-time practice-led PhD Candidate at the University of Sheffield, researching Performative Architectures supported by the RIBA LKE Ozolins Studentship in Architecture. Located between live art, visual art, architecture and writing, Helen’s work is collaborative – working with architects, artists, curators, diverse communities and publics to develop site-specific interventions, including performative workshops, live events, video-works, speculative writing and artists’ books. She explores how places are produced and performed through everyday activities and routines to seek out how these occupations or actions challenge the visions set up by city planners/authorities and architects. While exploring everyday processes of place-making, these interventions search for modalities that work between and expand architectural conventions.

A former studio and residency artist at Wysing Arts Centre Cambridge, Helen’s work and research has most recently been presented at KTH Stockholm AHRA Architecture and Feminisms Conference, AHRA Festival and The City Conference, Birmingham alongside Yorkshire Sculpture Park, g39 and Oriel Davies Gallery: Wales, RIBA, Tate Modern and ICA: London, Akademie Solitude: Stuttgart, Center for Contemporary Arts: Celje, Škuc Gallery and P74: Ljubljana. Helen has recently finished a 2-year residency supported by Arts Council England with UK national arts organisation METAL, developing a new app with artist Idit Elia Nathan that playfully critiques approaches to the urban environment and landscape – further developed through commissions for Cambridge Junction, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and walks for The National Theatre, London.

Helen Stratford photo