Staff profiles

Dr Fiona Allen

Lecturer in History of Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture (E&S)


01392 727035

Fiona Allen received her PhD from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds in January 2016. During this time, she was also co-editor of the journal parallax. Her current research and teaching interests include contemporary art and its relationship to design and architecture, critical theory and the history of photography. Before joining the staff at Exeter, Fiona contributed to taught programmes in the School of Design, again at the University of Leeds, and Sotheby's Institute of Art, London.

Research interests

My doctoral research explored the ways in which the architectural legacies of French colonial rule have been addressed within contemporary art, with an emphasis on installation and lens-based practices. In order to pursue this line of enquiry, the thesis took its lead from Maison Tropicale (2007) by Ângela Ferreira, a reworking of a failed colonial housing project by the designer turned architect Jean Prouvé. Combining archival research with a series of close readings, it sought to explore the broader political and aesthetic debates which surround the act of remaking, from the relationship between space and time to questions of materiality. More broadly, my teaching and research interests include contemporary art, critical theory and the history of photography. 

I have presented my research at a range of institutions, including Birkbeck, University of London, Roma Tre University and Concordia University, Montreal. I have also published work in Art & the Public SphereJournal of Curatorial Studies and Architecture Beyond Europe. In 2015, I guest edited a special issue of the journal parallax. The issue explored the material and philosophical resonances of the term 'concrete' and their implications for contemporary art-architecture practices. 

I have recently begun work on a new project which explores the relationship between vernacular architecture, notions of monumentality and the photobook.

Research collaborations

After completing my PhD I worked for 18 months on a research project with colleagues from the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS (Dr Joanna Wolfarth) and The Asia Projector (Annie Jael Kwan). Taking its lead from films such as Anocha Suwichakornpong’s By The Time it Gets Dark and La France est notre patrie by Rithy Panh, the project explored the ways in which colonial film and photographic archives have been rearticulated within contemporary Southeast Asian visual culture. The outcome was a two-day conference and film programme which attracted speakers and delegates from across Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. My colleagues and I are currently guest editing a special issue of Southeast of Now based on the event. It is scheduled to be published in October 2019.