Rebecca Starr


BA(Hons) History of Art with Museum Studies; MA History of Art

Research Project

My research is concerned with reconsidering the idea of 'relational aesthetics', an idea first introduced in the 1990s by the French critic and curator Nicolas Bourriaud. 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 context in which ‘relational aesthetics’ emerged and how the term itself has been theorised and incorporated into narratives of recent art history. To remedy this, my research focuses on the specific 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 artists including Pierre Huyghe, Matthieu Laurette, Jean-Luc Moulène and Philippe Parreno, amongst others, my thesis seeks to reconsider the supposed characteristics of ‘relational’ art by examining to how such work was often rooted in, and reflective of, the political turmoil and social change occuring during the neoliberalisation of France in the 1990s and sought to challenge notions of temporality, duration and alternate forms of exchange. 

Research Interests

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

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’, Postgraduate Researcher 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.


  • 'Subversion via the Screen: Matthieu Laurette and the Art of Television', Pàrrafo: The On Screen Issue, 9 (2018), 20-21. 

  • ‘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 and Nicolas Bourriaud (Dallas, TX: Nasher Sculpture Centre, 2017), pp. 15-29. 

Research Awards/Grants

  • 2019-2020: WRoCAH Associate Award 
  • 2016-2019: AHRC (WRoCAH) PhD Studentship
  • 2018: Research Exchange Project for a two month Fellowship with Creative Time, New York, USA 
  • 2018: WRoCAH Knowledge Exchange Project for a series of Community Engagement Workshops, Sheffield, UK
  • 2017: Research Award from FAHACS-WRoCAH for partipation in Critical Theory Workshop / Atelier de Théorie Critique at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France
  • 2015: Henry Moore Institute MA Dissertation Prize
  • 2014-2015: University of Leeds Postgraduate Scholarship 
  • 2011-2014: Myrtle Boultwood Scholarship

Teaching Experience

AFHEA (Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy)

  • 2019-2020: Undergraduate seminar tutor for Elements of Visual Culture I and II, A Story of Art II (level 1), Keywords and Art History and Art Historiographies (level 2)
  • 2018-2019: Undergraduate seminar tutor for Elements of Visual Culture II (level 1) and Art History and Art Historiographies (level 2)
    • nominated in 'Inspirational Teaching Award' category of University of Leeds Partnership Awards 
  • 2017-2018: Undergraduate seminar tutor for Elements of Visual Culture I and II (level 1)
    • nominated for 'PGR Teaching Award' category of University of Leeds Partnership Awards 

Editorial Experience