Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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Rebecca Starr

PhD Candidate

BA (Hons) History of Art with Museum Studies (1:1, First Class Honours); MA History of Art (Pass with Distinction)

Focusing on Relational Aesthetics, my PhD analyses the social, political and economic contexts of such work in relation to exchange and temporality.

Research Interests

Contemporary Art; Marxist Aesthetics; Critiques of Capitalism; Commodity Aesthetics; Post-war French Philosophy; Relational Aesthetics; Contemporary French History


Seminar Tutor for Elements of Visual Culture I and II.

Research Projects & Grants

2018: WRoCAH Knowledge Exchange Project Award (Community Engagement and Educational Outreach)
2016-2019: AHRC (WRoCAH) Doctoral Award
2015: Henry Moore Institute MA Dissertation Prize
2014-2015: University of Leeds Postgraduate Scholarship
2014: CoSCAN Research Trip Travel Award
2011-2014: Myrtle Boultwood Scholarship

Research Centres & Groups

Co-convener of Politics-Power-Pictures reading group 2017-2018

External Appointments

Associate Editor parallax

PhD Thesis

Provisional Title: Reconsidering ‘Relational Aesthetics’: Exchange, Temporality and Commodity Aesthetics in Recent French Art

Often premised on the notion of facilitating exchange between participants, transferring social and cultural knowledge and creating an open space for debate, much so-called ‘relational’ art has been subject to analyses of ‘socially-engaged’ practices and theories of democratic participation. Whilst previous debates in this area have been productive, few have paid critical attention to the contexts in which theories of ‘relational aesthetics’ have emerged and how the term itself has become incorporated into the canon of recent art history. To remedy this, my research focuses on the cultural, social and economic contexts in which ‘relational’ art and the term ‘relational aesthetics’ emerged during the 1990s. Paying particular attention to the work of French artists including Pierre Huyghe, Matthieu Laurette and Philippe Parreno, amongst others, my thesis seeks to reconsider the supposed characteristics of ‘relational’ art and offer a fresh perspective on such work. In order to do this, I argue that much of the art associated with ‘relational aesthetics’ is less a product of a shared interest in exchange, and, moreover, is a product of an increasing concern amongst artists during the 1990s to question formats of temporality and duration.

Professional Practice

Conference Papers

‘Seeing is Believing, or is it? Visualising the Political Process in No More Reality!, Visual Sociology, June 2018, University of Évry, Évry, France.

‘Slogans, Striking and Teddy Bear Picnics’: Protests and the Art of Philippe Parreno’, 1968 | 2018 Protest, Performance and the Public Sphere, June 2018, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK.

‘Reconsidering Relational Aesthetics’, One Year In: Graduate Symposium, September 2017, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

‘The Interstice as Space for Exchange in ‘Relational’ Art’, Critical Theory Workshop / Atelier de Théorie Critique, July 2017, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France.

‘Leisure vs. Free(d) Time: Temporality in the Art of Pierre Huyghe’, London Conference in Critical Thought, June 2017, London South Bank University, London, UK.

‘Freedom, Exchange and Sociability in ‘Relational’ Art’, Freedom After Neoliberalism, June 2017, University of York, York, UK.

‘The Right to Be Lazy: (Un)Productivity and Leisure in Pierre Huyghe’s L’Association des Temps Libérés’, Nasher Prize Dialogues: Symposium, March 2017, Nasher Sculpture Centre, Dallas, USA.


‘The Right to Be Lazy: (Un)Productivity and Leisure in Pierre Huyghe’s L’Association des Temps Libérés’, Nasher Prize Dialogues, ed. by Leigh Arnold (Dallas, TX: Nasher Sculpture Centre, 2017), pp. 15-29. (Conference Proceedings, included alongside essays by Leigh Arnold and Nicolas Bourriaud)

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