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Dr. Veronica Tello

Dr. Veronica Tello


Veronica Tello is a Chilean-Australian writer. Her research broadly focuses on biopolitics and critical border studies. Her forthcoming book Counter-Memorial Aesthetics: Refugee Histories and the Politics of Contemporary Art (Radical Aesthetics Radical Art series, Bloomsbury Philosophy) analyses the protracted 'refugee crisis' from the 1990s to the present era in countries such as Australia, Cuba, the US and the UK and the role of contemporary art in manifesting 'counter-memories' of not only diminishing histories but also neglected futures which prioritise locating a critical, post-identity (non-citizen/nation-based) form of inter-subjectivity and thinking.

Her current research enagages discourses of decolonisation to examine the potentiality of subaltern knowledge and 'border thinking' as made manifest via collaborative projects between contemporary artists, refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, and stateless people. Focussing on artist-initiated projects such as the New World Summit (a parliament for the stateless, based in the Netherlands), the Immigrant Movement International (a social movement, based in New York) and the Silent University (led by a faculty comprised of refugees and migrants, based in various European cities), Tello's research aims to analyse how and if such projects can generate experimental, new paradigms of cultural production not only relevant to but necessary in the context of the unprecedented crisis of forced migration/displacement in Europe/America and the crisis this places on concepts of the nation-state. The project asks: can the current crisis of statelessness, and the act of listening to subaltern knowledge, open up an opportunity to re-imagine the future along a different trajectory to Euro-American modellings of the world (not least of which is the dysfunctional nation-state)? What would such a world look like? And what is the role of art in shaping such a world?

Veronica's work has been widely published in national and international journals, most recently in Third Text, Afterall and Contemporaneity. Other publications include essays in Phaidon's Vitamin D2 and Vitamin P2 monographs, as well as catalogue essays for numerous Australian artists in the areas of performance art, video art, photography and installation (see Publications). 

In 2015-16 she was Visiting Fellow in the Social Practice Queens program, City University New York (CUNY). In 2010 she was art historian in residence at the Frankfurter Kunstverein, researching the work of the Berlin based artist Dierk Schmidt in collaboration with the Stadel Museum. Since 2006, Veronica has curated such exhibitions as Without Money There is No LoveFeminist Actions (Next Wave Festival), team Australia and Girls on the Floor (Midsumma Festival). She convenes the Art Social reading group (with Kelly Doley) at UNSW, focussing on performance, social practice and institutional critique. 

She has been the recipient of several awards including: the Arts Victoria Presentation Grant (2006); the Australian Postgraduate Award (2008-12); the Siemens Art Program Award (with Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2010); the Australia Council for the Arts New Work - Early Career Award (2013); the UNSW  Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2015-18); and the Bundanon Trust Writer’s Residency (2015).

Honours and Postgraduate Supervision
Veronica is interested in supervising students (including those pursuing practice-led research) in the following research areas:

  • Decolonial and postcolonial theory/aesthetics 
  • Participation 
  • Time, memory, history, futures
  • Borders, nation-states, migration, globalisation 
  • Subjectivity, identity/post-identity politics 
  • Counter-histories/memories/archives 

Current PhD Students

  • Meredith Birrell (theory) -- The Fugitive Self: Subjectivity in the Essay-Films of The Otolith Group, Hito Steyerl and Ursula Biemann
  • James Nguyen (practice-led research) -- MEASURING THE DISTANCE OF RETURN: Diaspora, performance and the mirror-less camera 



Current appointment(s)

Lecturer, Contemporary Art Theory and History