Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University. Emma's research focuses on artistic processes and practices, and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ therein. Her practice unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches, alongside a mode of ‘contiguous writing’ — a way of writing-with that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her writing is published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling, 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and the solo collection, The Yes of the No, 2016. More recently, Emma trained to be a qualified yoga teacher, interested in how a heightened awareness of the body and breath, alongside meditation and attention practices, might be integrated into art-writing, artistic practice, pedagogy and research.

Symposium: Critical Engagements with Engagement


I will be presenting a paper/reading at a forthcoming symposium, Critical Engagements with Engagement on Friday 26th July, 10am – 4pm at the Bloc gallery, Sheffield. The symposium will focus on the discussions and debates that surround public and artistic engagement. Drawing on my own practice-based involvement in various participatory research projects (specifically the performance collaborations Open City and Performing the City), my presentation gathers together prose extracts and photographic visuals gleaned from my ongoing research enquiry, Performing Communities. Performing Communities interrogates how participatory performance-based interventions in the public realm can help support the emergence of critical – and potentially resistant – models of subjectivity and collectivity, specifically those forms of ‘temporary invented community’ (Miwon Kwon) created in and through the act of participation itself. Within this enquiry I investigate how participatory performance practice might intervene in and challenge how the public realm is activated and navigated, through its capacity for producing ‘counter-publics’, new social formations for rehearsing and testing alternative forms of individual and collective subjectivity.