msdm a nomadic house-studio-gallery for photographic art and curatorial research, an expanded practice of the artist's book, photobook publishing and peer-to-peer collaboration created by contemporary artist paula roush

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sex’n’database: a corporeal taxonomy

During a residency at the Arab Image Foundation I looked at several photographic collections that, in different ways, reflect the city of Beirut and its links to both the Arab and international photo-visual culture. This initial artistic research resulted in several photobooks that were published by Beirut-based PlanBey publisher, and an accompanying exhibition at their Makan Gallery (September 2015). This installation, titled Torn Folded Curled, reflected the impact of the civil war in some of the collections that came to the Foundation already damaged - photographic materials rescued from heavily bombed sites around Beirut and Lebanon.
In contrast to this kind of dusty paper-based materiality, I also became interested in the Foundation’s online database, both the textual taxonomy and its digitised photographs. Opening myself to chance, I let myself be guided by the intention to find something sleazy or sexy - photographic material with a twist… that might be troubling the archive. I typed in the database search fields the word ‘sexuality’ and found no sexuality in the archive, but found ‘sex’, as well as ‘body’, ‘nudity’, ‘breast’, ‘leg’, ‘bedroom’… Overwhelmed by the joy of corporeal indexicality, they are already digital archaeology. They are a testimony to an out-dated bureaucratic classification system of French colonial legacy, soon to disappear under the auspices of a new open access database to be implemented at the Arab Image Foundation.

paula roush

SEX’N’DATABASE: A CORPOREAL TAXONOMY featured as comissioned photo-essay in

Membrana magazine 3
Cabinet issue
 Collecting Photographic Images

Collecting photographic images has for long stirred both interest and imagination of photographers, artists, photographic theorists, just as it did those of information loving intelligence officers, flea market loving amateurs and free market loving entrepreneurs. Contemporary proliferation of image production and sharing seems to have only intensified the practices of collecting, appropriating and curating of found, already existing images. The resulting amassments of images – either in forms of personal albums, institutionalised collections, server farms of social networks or archives of state institutions – are also amassments of narratives, of projections about societies and individuals, of attempts to limit the mere potentiality and contingency of meaning. In particular it was the archive – as a concept, a distinctive repressive social apparatus, and as a pool of (in)accessible images – that has for long been a focal point of theoretical and discursive contestations, creative artistic practices and critical appropriations. Membrana #3 reinvigorates these discussions from the perspective of ubiquitous photography and re-politicisation of social life in post-democratic societies through the metaphor of cabinet. For us, the notion of the cabinet has multiple meanings and can be seen as a bureaucratic image storage and retrieval system, an image display surface, a desktop icon or an Wunderkammer-ish collection of wonders and curiosities and can be approached literally or metaphorically.
Editor: Jan Babnik


Activating the Archive online exhibition
curated by Alejandro Acin & Isaac Blease
PH museum July 24- Sept 24 2018

Activating the Archive presents the work of 10 artists that explore and question the malleable nature of visual archives and the many ways that they can be activated through contemporary practices.
Archives hold the promise of continual exploration, however, before embarking on this quest we must first understand them as places for construction rather than sites of excavation. Perhaps this notion of potentiality is the reactive force guiding artists around the often-hampering hand of official archival procedures. Within this exhibition the work of 10 artists highlight the malleable nature of visual archives, and the many ways that they can be activated through contemporary practices.
Themes such as, preservation, restoration, and organization, are usually central to discussions around the archive, yet the works displayed here attest to the equal importance of creativity and the freedom of use. Despite sharing an archival underpinning, these works are all strongly unique, and detail the myriad of ways that this material can approach universal subjects through artistic intervention. In turn, our understandings of photographs, why they are archived, and ultimately how they can be used is further expanded.
In the Tate paper, Perspectives: Negotiating the Archive, Sue Breakell describes how “an archive is now understood to mean anything that is no longer current but that has been retained”. How and why photographic collections are retained is often based on a slippery encounter shrouded in subjectivity, which in turn further complicates our understanding of what constitutes an archive. In some cases within this exhibition, the act of retainment is orchestrated by the artist them self through acts of archival salvage from sites such as, flea markets, rubbish dumps, or simply the street.
However an archive is formed, activation is the key to new readings and new directions. All of the works encountered here are testament to this endeavour where the artists are inventing archives, performing the archive, connecting archives, creating online archives, and re-imagining personal archives.
This online exhibition is part of the current IC Visual Lab programme Activating the Archive, which has included a symposium, workshops, talks, and an upcoming artistic commission. These events have been ongoing over an eight-month period and are supported by the Arts Council of England.

curators: Alejandro Acin & Isaac Blease

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PAINTBALL FIELD photographs shot with paintball gun by GBH

PAINTBALL FIELD photoworks, 2018
photoworkws printed with a Monochrome Océ Laser on Xerox Bond paper, shot with paintball gun (two tones) by GBH, 84.1 x 118.9 cm each, installed on metal structures

PAINTBALL FIELD bookwork, 2018
photographs by  paula roush printed with a Monochrome Océ Laser on Xerox Bond paper, shot with paintball gun (two tones) by GBH, 118.9 x 84.1 cm each folio, installed on metal table with chipboard top

Paintball Field was made during a residency in the ‘schist’ mountain villages of Portugal. The area has become depopulated and is now being developed as a destination for tourists. The title of the work refers to a local recreation area where visiting families come with their children to play war games using guns firing balls of paint. The photographs conjure up a hunting scene in which a female figure wearing a cork mask – resembling those that were used by the original villagers during carnival – is being pursued. More than a simple ironic take on violence and war, the work draws on ethnographic connotations, evoking a dramatic encounter between the rural traditions of the past and present-day cultural practices.

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participatory architectures

The past persists in the present in the form of a dream (participatory architectures, archive and revolution) installation with photography, archive, architectural materials and newspaper, 2012-14

Outdated remains of a 20th century architectural utopia, a village developed as part of national housing projecte code-named SAAL, the experimental programme of peoples' right to place emerged in the short experience of participatory democracy during the Portuguese revolution.

exhibited in:
Paradigm Store, 5 Howick Place, London, Sept-November 2014
Seismopolite journal of Art and Politics (issue 3: Reimagining the political geography of “place” and “space”)
Arles Photography Open Salon, An Eye for an Ear, Galerie Huit, 2012
Brighton Photo Biennial 12 Photobook show at Brighton’s Jubilee Library throughout the Biennial (6 October – 4 November 2012)
Urban Dreams at the CCA, October 2012, Bulgaria
Brighton Photo Fringe, Phoenix Brighton, 6-11 November 2012
Guatephoto, Guatemala City, November 2012
This Is Not A Gateway Festival, Bishopsgate Institute, London, January 2013


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Soundtrack for a CCTV

paula roush, Soundtrack for a CCTV, Voyeur Project View Lisbon

paula roush, Soundtrack for a CCTV, Voyeur Project View, Lisbon

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Art in a bookshell

A survey of artists working with and inspired by books 
Milton Gallery, St Paul’s School London
Bookworks by:  paula roush, Abigail Thomas, Tania McCormack, Rob McDonald, Justin Coombes, Jane Grisewood, Jane Hyslop, Kaho Kojima, Christina Mitrentse, Anne Rook,  Rosie Sherwood,  Egidija Čiricaitė, Collective Investigations
Curated by: Emi Avora
February 26 – March 17, 2015
[gallery plan & artist titles]  [ artists’ practices]  [invite]

Areopagitica (Milton’s Nose) is a newsprint publication made of two earlier  publishing projects:  Russian Ballet Riot, a newspaper work about David Bomberg’s pamphlet Russian Ballet * and Areopagitica, a newspaper work about John Milton’s pamphlet Areopagitica. ** The resulting newsprint publication, titled Areopagitica (Milton’s Nose) blends collages from the pages of Russian Ballet Riot with collages from the pages of Areopagitica, plus additional documentation of the newspaper works installed with objects - clay noses created by St Paul’s school students- as a table installation at Milton’s gallery.

John Milton  (1608- 1674) was a student at St Paul’s School, and wrote Areopagitica in 1644 in defense of an unlicensed free press.
David Bomberg  (1890 – 1957) was a teacher at London South Bank University (Borough Polytechnic Institute) and published Russian Ballet (1919), inspired by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes for the company’s London performance.

* Published as part of the exhibition David Bomberg: Objects of Collection, at the Digital Gallery, London South Bank University, 10-12 December 2013
** Published as part of the exhibition Art in a Book Shell: A survey of artists working with and inspired by books, at the Milton Gallery, St Paul’s School, London, 26 February – 17 March 2015

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Temporary public artwork commissioned by SPACE for the Bow Wireless Festival , in East London.
As the Home Office prepared to test the efficiency of electronic tagging systems with asylum seekers, Bowville was presented as a 3-day live event starring Marion Manesta Forrester. The locative media performance used off-the -shelf purpose built equipment to simulate the official electronic tagging system and create a fictional game.  Bow residents and visitors were allowed to follow the movements of Marian Manesta Forrester-  who was electronically tagged -and vote for her to become a citizen of Bowville.



Bowville has featured in : 

Watching Europe and Beyond: Surveillance, Art and Photography in the New Millenium
Watched! Surveillance, Art and Photography
Hasselblad Foundation, C/O Berlin, Galleri Image, Kunsthal Harhus, Valand Academi
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig
[pdf download]

History is full of examples of the surveillance, scrutiny, persecution, and involuntary exposure of ethnic and sexual minorities specifically and women in general. This continues in the present, now with the use of new, overlapping technologies for tagging, tracking and mapping.
British sufragettes, who fought for women's right to vote in the early twentieth century, were regarded as revolutionary subversives and many of them were placed under surveillance, arrested and forcibly photographed by the police. Evelyn Manesta is one such example. She resisted being photographed by moving her head and body so much that a prison guard had to restrain her by the neck. This is the story paula roush reminds us of in her performance work Bowville whose main character - Marion Manesta Forrester - is named after three sufragettes. The work unites the past and the present as Marion Manesta Forrester is electronically tagged using a method tested by the British Home Office and developed by major UK security companies. She has three days to earn her citizenship of the fictional Bowvile. In roush's work, the literal long arm of the law, which was erased from the ID photograph of Evelyn Manesta taken by the police, is symbolically represented by the tagging device around Marion Manesta Forrester's neck. Punishment control ad biopolitics are thus united in automated technologies, which, whilst they might be new, are clearly historically rooted in police photography and registration by the authorities to marginalize undesirables and new arrivals.
Louise Wolthers



-The KISSS Project: Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression,
Art in Security and Security in Art
Sara Raza
Elastic residence, London, KISSS Symposium
[ pdf full text>]


International artists such as Bangladeshi-American Hasan Elahi and London based Portuguese artist paula roush have been pushing the boundaries between fixed definitions of technology and art by creating tracking/ tagging devices, that bear an uncanny resemblance to the mandatory “bracelets” worn by high risk criminals or those on parole so that law enforcement officers can keep track of their whereabouts.
roush has created a semi fictional alter-ego Marion Manesta Forrester, who first surfaced at London’s Bow Festival in 2004. Manesta Forrester was electronically tagged and was given a period of three days to earn her citizenship to Bowville. Bowville functioned as a fictional urban cityscape whose inhabitants were actively invited to partake in the countdown by voting for or against the protagonist. The networked performance undoubtedly resembled the reality television show “Big Brother,” which created quite an addictive storm in the UK, where 10 housemates lived in the same house and members of the public weekly eliminated a member until there was only one: the winner.

Simultaneously, the piece also referred to the real and actual notion of elimination and in-voluntary deportation of immigrants, asylum seekers and political refugees. Furthermore, the fact that the performance was staged for an urban setting additionally gave voice to the city as a site of investigation, which is an on going theme interwoven into roush’s practice whereby, she actively works with the dual concept of politics and public space.
Incidentally, this practice is based on a long series of performative works that examine the notion of emergency, public time and space and is a continuation of the “Exercise SOS: OK (save our souls: zero killings),” 2004 an ongoing project that looks at decontamination and consumption as politically charged armaments against institutional power formations. Ultimately, roush’s strategies re-appropriate the strategies of 1970s feminist artists, however, roush’s version has traded the issue of housework with security work. Nonetheless, the body under siege remains a feature from which one is able to trace a lineage with roush’s feminist predecessors.

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-Nowiswere, Issue 12
Excavation Thrill, in conversation paula roush and Tanja Verlak
  [Full text]

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Bowville, commissioned by Space (London, 2004) to be part of their platform on wireless public technologies (...) was extended research on the political economies of photography as a means of identification. This work brought together the history of photographic surveillance and its present implications for social stigma and deportation, such as polices use of electronic tagging to keep non-European immigrants under surveillance.




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Photography served as one of the main vehicles for this project but the medium was questioned, and integrated in the form of converging multi-layered mechanisms of new and old technologies (geo-locative media, wireless video stream, archival photography, fictional biography, performance with characters) that make the unitary identification of the work’s physical support impossible. The confrontation of photography and technologies of fear was made manifest in the work’s structure, bringing together a timed performance, a publicly sited investigation bureau, a detective story sometimes mimicking the police’s own investigation methods and the participation of the public.





Suhjung Hur, Annie On Ni Wan, Andrew Paterson 
:Leonardo Electronic Almanac / Volume 14, No. 3-4 / June-July 2006 

Embodying the concept of a grassroot ‘street version of the Internet’ , locative media interventions have often followed an ocular-dominated technological perspective that moves the point of interaction from the desktop PC in a private environment into the physical realm of public space. Further, continuing the trajectory of Happenings, Fluxus, and the Situationists from the 1950s onwards – whose interests in direct public participation were also pursued by early Internet art - locative media practices have aimed to engage the participation of individual, whether it is the artist, collaborator, targeted audience or anonymous public.


(…) The participatory and collaborative aspects of locative media foreground participants’ site-specific experience in local context, while encouraging them to be performers within the activity. Through their practices of walking, listening, conversation, game-playing, or living an everyday life, an individual partakes in different roles: gardener, composer, choreographer, cartographer, walker, tattooist, spectator, data-collector, storyteller, decision-maker, archaeologist, explorer; Or, simply but importantly, just an other within public environment. (...) Complex and ethical questions also arise. How do these technologies invite participation? Will the technologies be a 'restrictive collar around the neck' as in roush's Bowville, which control accessibility and communal decision-making process? Then, where and who is the community voice?


Bowville Fictitious Constituency:  Text on the conceptual framework and technologies  for Leonardo's Locative media gallery here>

-The crisis of interpretation: An investigation into the dynamics of engagement with site-specific art in the age of squanto,
Hattie Spires,
Goldsmiths College
[Full text]

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In an extremely timely and important intervention that took place in August 2004, the artist paula roush (msdm) set forth a proposition into the ‘real space’ of the community of Bow in East London through her project Bowville.  The Bowville Investigation Bureau, set up in a disused shop on Roman Road market, served as the surveillance centre from which the Bureau could track and monitor the movements of the protagonist Marion Manesta Forresta. Pointing back to the suffragette movement, Marion’s name is a bastardisation of three members of the suffragette movement, some of whom were the first people to undergo surveillance. Considered by the local authorities for her affiliation with left wing organisations, most notably Eastopia, Marion was given the chance to earn her right to stay in Bowville without surveillance through winning the public vote. Using global satellite positioning technology, the Bureau was able to track her movements through the streets of Bowville and enforce border restrictions on her whilst she developed an increasing presence and identity with the local community in which she tried to earn her citizenship. A wireless camera fed live footage of her actions back to the Bureau where continuous research into current global acts of terror took place.


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Bowville’s extraordinary ability to elicit complex histories and experiences from the local community through dialogue with the artist and the performers was in part due to its enduring topicality, partly its extended presence on the site of Bow, to some extent its reactivation of local histories and a continuation of past projects in the same contact zone but primarily due to an increasing sense of community through ‘labour in the field’. One could easily displace the notion of ‘site’ within the confines of this project for an intervention that tended towards ‘community-specific,’ ‘issue-specific,’ ‘audience-specific’ and was indeed all of these things and countless others but such easy dismissals would undermine the enormously complex issue at hand which is that the site is the interrelation of all of these. Bowville’s reactivation of local histories associated with the suffragette movement, its relation to current topics surrounding diaspora, surveillance and territories and the subsequent real-time involvement of the community that added a further layer of interpretation, all produced a functional site that elicited individual histories. The respondent’s reactions varied over the duration of the project from “it’s not Bowville, it’s Bow; you’re going to have to understand that if you want to stay here” to the uncovering of one Muslim man’s story of his migration from New York to the East End of London and his accounts of the local community’s projection of the notion of ‘Muslim’ onto him during the current climate of terror and fear. The project’s strength was located in its articulation of the clashing of psychic subjectivities and material conditions without occupying a moral high ground.
Hattie Spires, The crisis of interpretation: An investigation into the dynamics of engagement with site-specific art in the age of squanto, Goldsmiths College.





-Orwellian Projects

In August 2004, paula roush --author of the Arphid Recordings performances in London-- got herself electronically tagged. She created a semi fictional alter-ego Marion Manesta Forrester, who was electronically tagged and given a period of three days to earn her citizenship to Bowville, a fictional urban cityscape whose inhabitants were invited to follow her movements and vote for or against the protagonist.
roush chose the name Marion Manesta Forrester, as a partial homage to the suffragettes- the first women to undergo and rebel against photographic surveillance, the work is also a partial reaction to the announcement of electronic tagging for asylum seekers in the UK, and a reference to Lars Von Triers' Dogville.

Regine Debatty, Orwellian Projects, We Make money Not Art


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flora mccallica silkworks

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Neja Tomšič: Tea for Five. Opium Clippers

Neja Tomšič: Tea for Five. Opium Clippers
Performance with hand painted ceramics
msdm studio-gallery, UN8 Barratt Industrial Park, Gillender St, Poplar, London E3 3JX
Saturday, 20 October at 5 pm and 7 pm
Tickets: eventbrite

Opium Clippers is both the title of a book and that of a tea ceremony in which Neja Tomšič tells (true) stories about forgotten episodes of world history while making and drinking tea. In the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century the tea and opium trades were some of the most lucrative businesses in the world. At the time they were completely controlled by European colonial powers and corporations enjoying state protection.

Tea for Five is performed as a Chinese tea ceremony during which each visitor is served tea in an individual tea set and the history of each ship is narrated. The central part of the project are five hand painted ceramics tea sets based on traditional Chinese gongfu tea sets. Each tea set illustrates the history of a particular ship, related to opium trade, and consists of a tea cup that depicts the ship; a tea pot that depicts the historical event, and the tea pitcher (chahai) that depicts maps, individuals and events related to the ship.

Neja Tomšič (1982) is a visual artist, poet and writer involved in interdisciplinary practices. She is a co-founder of MoTA – Museum of Transitory Art – a Ljubljana-based research and production platform devoted to transitory art. She lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
msdm is the acronym for mobile strategies of display & mediation,  and is  a platform for artists sharing an interest for photographic research in exhibitions, editions and publications. The space’s tactical collaborations revolve around publishing, workshops and curatorial projects both at UN8 and abroad.

A project by Neja Tomšič
Ceramics by Anja Slapničar
Photography Jaka Babnik
Limited number of places.
Duration: 60 minutes +
Produced from 2018: Glej Theatre. Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture.

A book about a suppressed episode in world history: the tea and opium trade, from the colonial era to the present. Opium Clippers by Neja Tomšič  is  published by Rostfrei Publishing

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theoretical collage

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hetero qb

Hetero q.b.: a programme of debates and video/performance works created by thirty three women from southern and eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America, who tackle feminist and queer issues, at the Chiado Museum of Contemporary Art, Lisbon.

hetero q.b. [international video programme]
Curated by Emília Tavares and paula roush
With: Ana Bezelga, Ana Pérez-Quiroga, Ana Pissarra, Carla Cruz, Catarina Saraiva, Célia Domingues, Cristina Regadas, Elisabetta di Sopra, Hong Yane Wang, Itziar Okariz, Joana Bastos, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Maimuna Adam, Maria Kheirkhah, Maria Lusitano, Mónica de Miranda, Nilbar Güres, Nisrine Boukhari, Oreet Ashery, Patrícia Guerreiro, paula roush, Pushpamala N, Rachel Korman, Razan Akramaw, Rita GT, Roberta Lima, Sükran Moral, Susana Mendes Silva, Tejal Shah, Zanele Muholi
Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado, Lisboa
April 9 – June 30 2013
[hetero q.b.-intro] [paula roush: In the grip of the panopticon]  [Emília Tavares: hetero q.b]  [press reviews]  [parallel events]

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Joburg Fringe


Joburg Fringe
25 October – 3 November
The Art Room No 22 - 4th Ave, Cnr 7th St, Parkhurst, Johannesburg
with: Andrew Lindsay / Americo Guambe / Amogelang Maepa / Ann Marie Tully / Brett Seiler / Chiedza Nyebera Pfister / Claudia Shneider / Daniel Novela / Emmanuel de Montbron / James Nilsen-Misra / Jessica Doucha / Kaelik Dullaart / Kutlwano Monyai / Marlene Carpenter / Mbali Tshabalala/ Miabo Enyadike / Michelle Loukidis / Mireille Ribière / Naledi Segale / Ngozi Chukura / paula roush / Phumelele Kunene / Wonder / VIDEOart! 2018 curated by Jackie Ruth Murray / Young Capital 201 curated by Thina Dube


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Queer Paper Gardens
curated by Joao Pinharanda
Museu da Electricidade, Lisbon
[Curator's text: João Pinharanda Undermining the Surrounding World]
[ Exhibition review: Luisa Soares de Oliveira Mulheres fatais e outras que tais/ Fatal women and others as such: A visit to the surrealist museum through collage Ipsilon Publico Magazine portuguese  /  english]
[ Exhibition review: Celso Martins Colagem e Colisao / Collage and collision An artistic collaboration around the dances and counterdances of gender, retrieves collage as a mode of associating images Expresso Atual Magazine,  portuguese  /   english ]

The exhibition-making strategy adopted the project is a mixed media collage salon, which explores travel and collage as interlinked cultural queer and feminist practices in its relationship to contemporary art. Multilayered visual essays and publications revisit narratives, which combine historical archive and speculative fiction into the study of the modernist collage- novel. The main subjects of these works range from Mary Delany’s invention of botanical collage (Flora Delanica, 1772-1782), to Max Ernst’s collage novel Une Semaine de Bonté (A Week of Goodness, 1934) and Valentine Penrose’ poem-collage Dons des Feminines (Gifts of the Feminine, 1951).
This journey makes visible ways in which collage creates spaces that facilitate experiments with botanical taxonomies as metaphors for gender and sexuality and also a critique of the domestic setting conveyed through escapist dreams and travel to exotic locations.

The relation between collage and art publishing is part of  the artists’ books history. Two relevant examples of small editions books are part of the exhibition’s material sources: Max Ernst’s A Week of Goodness (1934) and Valentine Penrose’s Dons des Feminines (1951). Both propose new perspectives on the relationship between found material and personal biography, collage and narrative, image and text. Departing from these and looking at early predecessors of the visual book- encountered in the Georgian hortus siccus (herbarium) and the Victorian photo album- the project explores:
- Working with found material: the author as editor with a subjective vision of an archive or collection
- A queer and feminist history of collage that looks at early precursors of collage amongst 18th century landscape female artists, female victorian photo-collage, the surrealist collage novel and contemporary collage approaches
- Visual storytelling when sequencing books: strategies that range from cinematic structure to the travel book.

Related publication: 
Queer paper gardens or the Wildlife of symbols
Published on the occasion of Queer paper gardens/ Estranhos Jardins de Papel
at Museu da Eletricidade

Artistic research:
paula roush & maria lusitano Queer paper gardens or the Wildlife of symbols:Les deux amies / The two girlfriends (Gifts of the Feminine); II. The mise-en-scéne of the unconscious (A Week of Goodness); III. The photoalbum in the drawing room (cardomania), the album of Madame B.; IV.  The paper mosaick (Female cruising in the garden)

Guest writer
Cristina Duarte a journal of one’s own, a text dedicated to mary, margaret, valentine, alice, paula, maria and all the other women 

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brunch at UN8

Brunch at UN8 for the london residency of
Pau Cata (Barcelona) and Helga Oskardottir (Reykjavik)
Sunday June 17th 2018
ith the contributions of :





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A new edition of Super-Private scenes I-VI,  a series of six bookworks commissioned by Jon Fawcett for Infinite Multiple collection of affordable art multiples.
Launched at Carrol Fletcher gallery, London, Sept 2017 followed by Lounge Arrival , Arebyte Gallery, City Island, London April 2018
Available through the online shop infinite multiple

Lounge Arrival, 
With: Ilona Broeseliske, Max Colson, David Cotterrell, Nina Coulson, Thomson & Craighead, Matthew Darbyshire, Rod Dickinson, Oliver Durcan, Theo Ellison, Marcia Farquhar, Jacob Farrell, Shayna Fonseka, London Fieldworks, Freee, Maria Paz Garcia, Roxman Gatt, Tristan Hessing, Lizzie Hughes, Mustapha Hulusi, Louise Long, Adrian Lee, Sally Labern, Christopher MacInnes, Antonia McDonald, Jon Rafman, paula roush, Santiago Sierra, Jonathan Trayner and Theo Turpin
Arebyte Gallery
City Island, London 15-22 April 2018

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page turner #2: LISBON PHOTOBOOK FAIR 2016

PAGETURNER #2 PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: María Alves,  Ana Alvim,  Ana Fonseca,  Silvia Goncalves,   Fernando Marante,  Luisa Neves,  Anik Polo,  Luís Santo Vaz,   Francisco Varela,  Pelayo Iglesias; led by paula roush, 24- 27 November 2016  7th lisbon photobook fair: arquivo municipal de lisboa







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photo-text index (extract)

In 2007 I dragged my family to Sweden    We were all tired of our country that (it was said) was afraid of existing
writes Maria in the beginning paragraph of her essay   about her move from Portugal to Sweden

But the journey portrayed here happens four years later when I accompany her in a farewell journey between Malmö and Stockholm before she moved with her family this time from Sweden to the UK

A travelogue   a photo-text in search of its ontology                                   a book that essays photographs and writing into the double-vision of the migrants’ eyes         (annunciated by Bhabha) hers and mine

A twofold vision so as to twice the number of doubles produced on paper folds causing creases to appear temporarily in the folders of memory

Where does the journey start?

With portraits of the dead   photo-traces of transnational migration  found in Malmö’s Urban Cemetery  across the road from her home in Söder Innerstad housing programme for                    the newly arrived migrants

Suitcases hand-luggage passport control check points inter-continental flights

trajectories of dispersal      the splitting up of a people leaving in different directions   to meet later on in foreign soil

  for another expedition

Nothing to undo- self-contradictory error message on the screen  caused by accidentally activating the ‘shake to undo’ feature in the iPad  something is required to do: to tap the ‘cancel’ button to close it                                             Nothing to undo: the paradoxical nature of their collaboration that left much to images and words to collide                                    Nothing - not anything; no single thing: no amount; zero                                          To - a sense of movement, how we travel to, have gone to and relate to one another             Undo - untie, loosen, cancel, reverse

An ambiguity between agency and passivity  acceptance of contingency and chance      The absence of necessity the fact of being so without having to be so    Both in life and in the essay   There’s nothing one can undo no ‘one single home’ to return to                but scattered locations  multiple homes /pages to go to

A trip but not the mythical American road trip closer to the one intended by Berenice Abbott and Elizabeth McCausland   when in 1935 they hit the road in their practice run for the photobook  America. The 48 States They hoped to produce

Not a picture book  not a treatise or a burst of splendid rhetoric with illustrations not a series of beautifully reproduced plates with tabloid captions and tricks of montage but a book with words and photographs marching along beside each other complimenting each other reinforcing each other… 

It could be the great democratic book the great book for the masses of people conditioned by reading newspapers and tabloids…

In their daily drifts into Ribersborg beach and Vestra Hamnen (western harbour), former industrial area converted into the City of Tomorrow, they passed by the Rotating Torso tower and the Facelift Centre obvious symbols of the new prosthetic architecture of artificially enhanced corporeality

They never asked themselves: Why are we here? Will we ever go back?

Two women on the road  self-consciously documenting their situated dis-embodied geographies

paula roush: excerpt from photo-text index, Nothing to Undo 2015

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Paradigm Store

New installation of Participatory Architectures included in Paradigm Store exhibition: the decorative and the functional explored through a mixed range of media, proposing ways of re-considering the environment and social structure.

Paradigm Store
Curated by HS Projects
With: paula roush,
Ulla von Brandenburg, Cullinan & Richards, Kendell Geers, David Shrigley, Yutaka Sone, Maria Nepomuceno, Tobias Rehberger, Claire Barclay, Elizabeth Neel, Simon Bedwell,  Nike Savvas,  Theo Stamatoyiannis,  Anne Harild,  Beatriz Milhazes
5 Howick Place, London
September 25 – November 5, 2014
[press release] [artist's statement]  [review: 3rd Dimension Magazine]



The film about  Paradigm Store curated by HS Projects at 5 Howick Place is also online.  click the image to access the vimeo file>

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Art in a bookshell: a survey of artists working with and inspired by books

Wed 25 Feb 6.30-8.30 | MILTON GALLERY | You are invited to Art in a bookshell:  a survey of artists working with and inspired by books curated by Emi Avora | Artists paula roush, Anne Rook, Rosie Sherwood, Abigail Thomas Egidija Čiricaitė, Collective Investigations, Justin Coombes, Jane Grisewood, Jane Hyslop, Kaho Kojima, Tania McCormack, Rob McDonald, Christina Mitrentse | Info & viewing (26 Feb- 17 March 2015): 02087485428

further information:




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SCHIST PAINTBALL FIELD: Time that has already been time

Time that has already been time - a preamble in two chapters

The uses of time are definitely a challenge for artists. One may approach time by excavating it in an archaeological way, thinking in terms of historiography , which is not to accept the parameters of the official history with its definite causal time. Rather, questioning the historical perspective, this is part of the artistic task.

I do very different artworks in terms of medium but the work is usually located in the public sphere and driven by themes of artistic research. Sometimes I publish books, work with archives and photography, other times I make movies, and when I'm not doing either, I accept commissions for so-called performative installations that involve longer processes of collaboration with groups of participants. Time and memory are very dear themes to me. This has to do, first, with my use of time in terms of my artistic production - the time taken to investigate and make a work of art. Moreover, it results from my line of research that follows a historical orientation about the memory of the place , and the question of memory and gender in a feminist and queer perspective.

The subtitle used here 'Time that has already been time' is inspired by the ethno-sociological study by Paulo Monteiro on the villages of Lousã titled 'Land that has already been land'(1985). This is because the last of my projects, Xistórias, was developed in the villages of Lousã Mountain in central Portugal. It was a proposal for an artistic intervention in an area with a very troubled history - the product of a series of very problematic state and regional initiatives that resulted in the abandonment of the mountain by the inhabitants of their villages. Interesting to think that artists are now included in the current wave of investment that aims to transform rurality into touristic and cultural capital. In this context, it was a challenge to think of participatory methodologies to engage people on the ground and in the final event that was a four hour journey/walk across four villages with fifty people who came from Coimbra, Lisbon and Góis to participate.

In terms of artistic time, public commissions are a slow process. Xistórias was for me a research process of a few months that began with a first visit to the villages in August, when I went to see the area. I photographed and did some video too, and when I returned I created two small books that represented for me a kind of initial mental map of the project,ie, a preamble in two chapters.

The book SCHIST | XISTO is a document on the memory of the place . The villages are now almost completely abandoned as a result of a forestry regime that in the first decades of the twentieth century planted community land with pines and eucalyptus. This came to destabilize the delicate rural balance between trees, bushes, pastures, crops and livestock based on collective practices of land use. It led to the extinction of natural resources crucial for survival, that culminated in successive waves of migration to the cities and abroad and its depopulation. Although our framework is that of a very extended time, that has to do with rock formations and mountains and a very wide geological time, the schist villages are a brand that has now been launched for the region. It is manufacture of the place but does not necessarily have to do with local history or local time. Today the mountain is being promoted as a brand, “the schist landscape” in an attempt to attract the tourist gaze that is also a form of exoticism. This is an external time that is being deployed there and this juxtaposition has become my entry point into that space. The houses that are being rehabilitated persist alongside the ruins, the new rural urbanity alongside local life, coexisting in a state of entropy, between growth and decay. And I wanted to capture that process.

The book PAINTBALL FIELD | PAINTBALL FIELD depicts an uncanny , defamiliarised scenario, staged in a paintball field that I found in the Góis village, located in the base of the mountain, and part of the same touristic process behind the promotion of schist villages. This is a battle scenario where a surreal creature with a cork mask – the same as used in the villages during carnival- seems to be hunted by the other players. These are families who come with their children to enjoy themselves whilst training in the use of "ink weapons," since these are not exactly firearms. Without wanting to determine the reading, it seems to me possible to suggest that the performance of the masquerade seems to ironise the war game and expose the glorification of death implicit in the narrative of the paintball game. What I did was to edit this book in a time split to suggest another way to think of time in globalisation. What we have here are two times: the time of the mountain villages, that we associate with a time-less-present, perhaps a time-more-past, and the time of the the paintball field, that we associate with technological "edge," and perhaps a more-future-time . The presence of the mask shifts the time of the book to a more ethnographic time associated with the primitive and the ‘raw’ cultural condition, with all the connotations of appropriation and mystification of the so called “peasants’culture” that has resulted in its colonisation.

These were just some preliminary works as said. Later, in November, I went to the mountains and there I stayed three weeks in the tourists’ house in the Comareira village, that is managed by the Góis Council and is rented to tourists at sixty euros per night. A simple economic fact. It has central heating and where is now a space branded "schist" for travelers, once lived a family of sixteen persons. Another simple ethnograph fact, that concludes this introduction .

Excerpt from the presentation of the project to the Feminist University, during the seminar The Uses of Time, Lisbon December 18, 2013.


msdm   is  Mobile  Strategies  of  Display  &   Mediation
 a nomadic House — Studio — Gallery for photographic art
curatorial research, expanded practice of the artist's book
photobook publishing  and peer - to - peer collaborations 


by appointment only
please e-mail to schedule a visit

paula roush 

London SE

school of arts  & creative industries  
london south bank university