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Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra

  • Overview


    Extended absence from the college

    On maternity leave until December 2023.


    I am an art historian and cultural theorist with expertise in Latin American Art. I joined the History of Art Department at Birkbeck in 2018, as part of the department’s interest in expanding its global focus. Previously, I held a Junior Research Fellowship at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and taught at the departments of History of Art, Spanish, and the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge. I completed my PhD, entitled “Touched Bodies: Corporeal Ethics in Latin American Art at the Onset of the Media Age” in the same institution.

    I run the film production company Tecolote Films and have worked as director, scriptwriter and editor for documentary films. My film Malintzin 17 premiered at the Tiger Competition of International Film Festival Rotterdam and received the Best Documentary Award at the Morelia Film Festival. I have also curated a number of research-led exhibitions, including Reality Machines: An Art Exhibition on Post-Truth (CRASSH, Cambridge, 2018) and Infancias (Casa del Tiempo, Mexico City, 2023).


    • My book Touched Bodies: The Performative Turn in Latin American Art (Rutgers University Press, 2019) was shortlisted for the 2020 Book Prize of the Association for the Study of the Art of the Present (ASAP).

    • Out in September: The New Public Art Available for pre-order. Discount code: UTXM25

    • I was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship for the project "The New Life: A Cultural History of Cybernetics in Latin America" (2020-2024).

    • I received the Art Journal Award for the best article published in 2018 (‘Beyond Evil: Politics, Ethics, and Religion in Leon Ferrari’s Illustrated Nunca Más’).


    • BA, El Colegio de Mexico & Harvard University
    • MPhil in History, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
    • PhD, Latin American Cultural Studies, University of Cambridge

    Web profiles

    Professional activities

    I am a member of the editorial board of the Oxford Art Journal.

    Professional memberships

    • Association for Art History (AAH)

      Association for the Study of the Art of the Present (ASAP)

      International Council of Museums (ICOM), UK

    Honours and awards


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Art and politics in Latin America, public art, the politics of aesthetics
    • Performance art, dance, video art, experimental film, and artists’ books
    • Feminist, ecological, post/decolonial and post/more-than-human art and theory
    • Mexican Intellectual History
    • The cultural history and visual culture of art-science projects in twentieth-century Latin America (specifically cybernetics and systems art)

    Research overview

    My research focuses on contemporary Latin American Art and Intellectual History, with a particular emphasis on the politics of aesthetics and on the study of liveness, presence, corporeality, and agency in artistic practice —including live, performance, and ecological art, together with dance and the moving image.

    My publications include the monograph Touched Bodies: The Performative Turn in Latin American Art (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2019), the forthcoming essay collection Marcos Kurtycz: Corporeality Unbound (Fauna-Jumex, 2023), and the edited volumes The New Public Art: Collectivity and Activism in Mexico Since the 1980s (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2023), Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Latin America (NY-London: I.B. Tauris, 2016, edited with Sophie Halart), and Eugenio Polgovsky: Poetics of the Real/La poética de lo real (Mexico City: Ambulante-Tecolote Films, 2020).

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in undertaking research in any of my areas of specialism. 

    Current doctoral researchers



    My teaching is centred on non-Western art histories. It fosters a critical awareness of questions related to gender, colonial legacies, ecology, cultural transference, and migration. I welcome proposals for PhD research on these topics and on a range of issues related to modern and contemporary art of Latin America.

    Teaching modules

    • Research Exercise (ARVC282S7)
  • Publications




    Book Section

  • Business and community

    Business and community

    I have media training.


    I am happy to receive enquiries from the media on the following topics:

    • Latin American History and Culture