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Alexandra Kokoli wins Paul Mellon Fellowship

Alexandra Kokoli wins Paul Mellon Award

Sigrid Moller

Sigrid Moller, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. photo. 'A Day in December 1982' from 'The Danish Peace Academy', Greenham Common Women's Peace Camps Songbook

Dr. Alexandra Kokoli, Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Middlesex University London and research associate at VIAD, has been awarded a mid-career fellowship by the Paul Mellon Centre. The award consists of a 4-month remission from teaching and administration to be used towards the completion of her book project The Virtual Feminist Museum of Greenham Common, the first-ever monograph dedicated to the art and visual activism of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp (1981-2000).

Long celebrated for the performative activist strategies of women protestors against nuclear proliferation and their craft-based DIY interventions on the periphery fence the USRAF airbase, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and its Berkshire site are beginning to be recognised as English (and Welsh) heritage with a transnational reach. Kokoli aims to consolidate, elaborate, and further promote this recognition, while also troubling the notion of ‘heritage’ with the tool kit of feminist art history. Viewed through the lens of feminist intergenerational transmission, Greenham Common exemplifies Griselda Pollock’s formulation of the virtual feminist museum: mobilising Aby Warburg’s Nachleben (afterlife/survival by metamorphosis), the virtual feminist museum untethers artefacts, images, and practices from their historical contexts and sets them in motion, tracing their travels, reoccurrences and transformations across time and space. Kokoli argues that the virtual museum of Greenham Common is fuelled by the transdisciplinary intersection of scholarship and the continuing fight for change, be it against war, the arms trade, nuclear power, global inequalities, or austerity.

The Virtual Feminist Museum of Greenham Common addresses mobilisations of affect in the performativity of blockades and die-in demonstrations, exploring the symbolism of woven webs and the challenge of untangling them faced by the authorities; it discusses the abjectification of women protesters by Newbury right-wing grassroots organisations and the weaponisation of violent imagery of mass destruction in response; it examines the mutability of mother and child iconographies in artworks by Richard Hamilton, performances by Shirley Cameron and Evelyn Silver, and photographic documentation of the peace camp by Caroline Wyndham, Pam Isherwood, and others, and considers evocations of the maternal in press coverage; it engages with psychoanalytic theories of war, death, and the nuclear threat, to unpick the performance of mourning as a pre-emptive strike against the fallacy of deterrence in die-in demonstration documentation and Janis Jefferies’ practice; and, finally, it returns to the reclaimed commons as an archaeological site, as well as a curatorial and commemorative conundrum.