Gavin Butt
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Personal profile

Research interests

Butt is interested in the relations between experimental arts practices located within cultural institutions and those DIY, queer, popular and/or punk arts which have either historically challenged them from without or continue to mine the possibilities of alternative world-making within arts communities today.

From a book on gossip and queerness in the New York art world to a curatorial project on the trash aesthetics of performance, a monograph on post-punk music in the art school to a feature film exploring artists' DIY use of moving-image technology, Butt has variously explored the political and cultural promise of working at the margins of institutional recognition and critical seriousness.    

He is currently developing a new exhibition project with Prof. Heike Roms (Exeter) 'Live Class: Performance and the British Art School'.

His book 'No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk' is forthcoming from Duke University Press in early 2022. He is co-editor (with Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun) of Post-Punk Then and Now, Repeater, 2016.

He has variously published on "seriousness" in queer art and performance including essays on the work of David Hoyle, Oreet Ashery, Kiki and Herb, Bird La Bird, Charles Ludlam, Joe Brainard, Jason Holiday and others. He is co-author (with Irit Rogoff) of Visual Cultures as Seriousness, Sternberg, 2013.

In 2013 he made his first feature length documentary film, co-directed with journalist Ben Walters, This is Not a Dream. Butt was also co-director of Performance Matters (2009-2013), a creative research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, a collaboration between Goldsmiths, Roehampton University and the Live Art Development Agency.

He is author of Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World 1948-1963 (Duke 2005) and editor of After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance (Blackwell 2004).




Gavin Butt is a scholar of modern and contemporary art whose work contributes to the fields of art history & visual culture, performance and queer studies and popular music studies. Trained as a fine artist and art historian, he is a writer, curator and filmmaker.

Butt was formerly Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London, Attenborough Chair in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex, and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Currently I am co-chair of Northumbria's Contemporary Arts Research Forum.

Education/Academic qualification

History of Art, PhD, University of Leeds

1 Sep 19921 Dec 1997

Award Date: 1 Jun 1998

History of Art, MA, University of Leeds

30 Sep 19891 Sep 1990

Award Date: 1 Oct 1990

Fine Art, BA (Hons), Goldsmiths, University of London

30 Sep 198614 Jun 1989

Award Date: 1 Jul 1989


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