Research project

Women’s Early Video Art

‘Women’s Early Video Art’ is a multi-component research project, led by Elaine Shemilt,

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Start date

January 2014

Completion date

June 2020






‘Women’s Early Video Art’ investigated the first decade of early video works by women artists from 1974 onwards. With diverse outcomes, the project culminated in an anthology of writings by leading international artists, academics, and curators and was partially supported by a 230K AHRC award (2015-2018).

Involving extensive field research across Europe into institutional and single-artist personal archives, and conducting semi-structured interviews, Shemilt’s aim in the project was to reveal the overlooked achievements, issues and production of these women, offering the results for further scholarship and the attention of new publics. A further aim was to recover and reassess the seminal contribution of women artists to early video art in Europe, and more generally to the development and evolution of video, which was a relatively new medium at the time.

The project used newly curated exhibitions as case studies, with papers, performances, book chapters and a website ( as its method and mode of dissemination. The curatorial research involved curators Gabriele Schor, Deirdre Mackenna, Chiara Squarcina, Iliyana Nedkova, Laura Leuzzi, Cinzia Cremona, Tessa Garland, Živa Kraus, Valentino Catricala, Giulia Casalini, and Diana Georgiou.

The main publication is a well-illustrated hardback with introductory prefaces from Laura Mulvey and Siegfried Zielinsky, published by John Libbey Publishing (2019). It constitutes a significant resource for further scholarship, artists, curators and general interested audiences, offering investigations on the theme, from different perspectives. Much use of primary sources was derived from the funded research project and beyond by the contributors.


Project lead(s)

Professor Elaine Shemilt