Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art

Explore the globally engaged activities of the UNSW Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art - which combine leading edge cultural research with innovative teaching, exhibitions, public outreach and critical thought leadership.

artwork by tan lijie

Welcome message from the Chair

I am excited to introduce the work of the UNSW Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art. The creation of this uniquely positioned chair through a multi-million dollar endowment by Ms. Judith Neilson represents a significant milestone in UNSW’s commitment to scholarly research intersecting with the university’s Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture and School of Art and Design. The Chair is aimed at advancing a critical understanding of contemporary art and culture in the global context through innovative research, advocacy and teaching. The endowment also supports the appointment of a UNSW Postdoctoral Fellow of Contemporary Art and a dedicated project manager.

Ms. Neilson's transformative act of philanthropy specifically recognises the importance of research related to Chinese contemporary art and culture. Over the last four decades, Chinese Contemporary art has impacted significantly on culture across the globe. That impact is part of China’s increasing cultural, social and economic presence on the world stage. The establishment of the UNSW Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art ensures UNSW’s active engagement in critical conversations related to Chinese contemporary art and culture.  

The establishment of the Chair not only strengthens cultural and scholarly bonds between China and Australia it also aligns with UNSW's commitment to enduring and reciprocal partnerships in culture, education, research and innovation worldwide.

Professor Paul Gladston
Inaugural UNSW Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art

Documentary trailer: Socialist Core Values - The movement of the opposite

This video shows the making of an ‘art action’ by the Chinese artist Yique, East London Socialist Core Values, which became a focus for intense international media interest in 2023.  The video includes comments by the artist Ai Weiwei and UNSW Judith Neilson Professor of Contemporary Art Paul Gladston on the significance of the action.

An exhibition of Yique’s work will be held in London later this year supported by the UNSW Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art. Join our mailing list and stay tuned for updates as we prepare for this remarkable exhibition.

Upcoming exhibitions and events

Research highlights

Exhibition | 展覽

This exhibition showcases video and other photographic works by the artist Tan Lijie evocative of multiple shifting encounters between lived realities and enchanted realms. 本次展覽將展出藝術家譚荔潔的影像以及攝影作品。這些作品⽣動地展現了現實世界與夢幻世界之間多重⽽富於變幻的碰撞。

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The scholarly book series, "Contemporary East Asian Visual Cultures, Societies, and Politics," delves into the intricate interplay of East Asian visual cultures with their socio-political contexts. The series was established and is co-edited by Prof. Paul Gladston.

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The Nomadic Artist in the Chinese Diasporas virtual conference intended to contribute to an examination of such critical but contested concepts as migration and transmigration, displacement, exile, homeland, mobility, transnationalism, nationality, coloniality, citizenship in cultural and art historical studies.

Advocacy highlights

Public outreach

Since 2021, Professor Paul Gladston has been curating and moderating panels and conversations for the Brooklyn Rail's New Social Environment series. As a Contributing Editor-at-large, his mission is to present diverse decolonising perspectives on the contemporary art world to the public, under the title of "Post-West” Arts and Visual Cultures.

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Professor Paul Gladston's consultancy work involves serving on the Board of Trustees for Third Text, a renowned global art journal recognised for its critical analysis of contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on the impact of globalisation on cultural practices and insights from postcolonial theory.

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In the media

Professor Paul Gladston explains the social and cultural constraints surrounding graffiti art in light of the artist Yique’s action East London Socialist Core Values (2023) in London’s Brick Lane and the ensuing social media controversy.

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Innovative teaching

The UNSW Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art seeks to foster lasting educational partnerships with China and other parts of the world. This commitment extends to innovative approaches to teaching and critical research aimed at enriching the experiences of students as well as deepening global public awareness of China's art and culture.