Dominic Johnson

Dominic Johnson, BA (Warw), MA (Lon), PhD (Lon)
Senior Lecturer in Drama

Location: ArtsOne G.25A

Phone: +44 (0)20 7882 8567

Research interests:

  • Performance art, live art, and body-based practices since 1960;
  • Performance and visual culture;
  • Representations of sex, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS
  • Subcultural histories, including body modification and performance in alternative spaces.

Dominic Johnson carries out written and practice-based research into performance and cultural politics.  

His authored monograph, Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture was published by Manchester University Press in 2012. It presents a critical analysis of Jack Smith’s work across performance, experimental film and writing, from the early 1960s until his AIDS-related death in 1989.

He is currently working on two book projects: a sole-authored book-length study of pain, hardship, and 'extremity' in performance (to be published by Manchester University Press); and a book of interviews with artists working in contemporary performance (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan).

He has published and presented research on the cultural politics of live art, especially on its recent history in the UK. He was guest-editor of a special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review on 'Live Art in the UK' (2012), which includes articles on major figures in the field, and other documents and artists' pages. As well as editing the collection, he also authored an introduction and conducted a critical interview with Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge.

Dominic regularly presents research at major international institutions. Recently, he has been an invited speaker at cultural institutions including Tate Modern, V&A Museum, and INIVA (London), Arnolfini (Bristol), the National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC) and Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin). He has presented invited lectures at New York University, University of Manchester, Oxford University, King's College, University of Glasgow, Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, Laban, University of Copenhagen, and other academic institutions. His research has been funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Terra Foundation for American Art, and Arts Council England.

With Prof. Lois Weaver, Dominic runs AiR Project, an Arts Council England (ACE) funded project that supports artists in residence in academic contexts.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Live Art Development Agency (an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation), and chairs its Publishing Advisory Board.

He is a member of the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions, with which he organised Ron Athey's six-month fellowship as Leverhulme Trust Visiting Artist in 2010.

He is Associate Editor of  Contemporary Theatre Review, a peer-reviewed quarterly journal of theatre and performance studies.

Postgraduate supervision:

Dominic is currently supervising PhD theses on: femininity and national identity; the work of Paul McCarthy; postfeminism and negative affects; extreme durations in performance; unease and the the 'social turn' in performance; the history of Live Art programming at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and relations between video and direct action. He welcomes applications from research students, especially those interested in histories and theories of live art, performance art, and queer cultural practice, and relations between performance and visual culture; prospective students with an investment in practice-based research are also welcome to apply.


Dominic Johnson has performed nationally and internationally. His performance piece Transmission has been presented at festivals since 2007, including Fierce (Birmingham), National Review of Live Art (Glasgow), Queer Zagreb (Croatia), Visions of Excess at SPILL Festival (London), The International Festival of Performance (Copenhagen), and as part of Gay Icons at the National Portrait Gallery (London). He has collaborated on two performances with Ron Athey: Incorruptible Flesh (Perpetual Wound) was co-commissioned by Chelsea Theatre (London) and Fierce! (Birmingham) in 2006 and presented at both festivals, and a subsequent piece, Self-Obliteration Double Bill, was performed at Souterrain Porte IV: Monstres, (Maxéville), 2007) and Donaufestival (Krems, 2008). He has performed solo works at clubs, including at Duckie (2008, 2009) and Torture Garden (London, 2007; Rome, 2008; Maxéville, 2009; Edinburgh, 2010). His performances have been documented in Dance Theatre Journal, Art Papers, Gay Times, The Guardian, Manuel Vason's Encounters, and the Pacitti Company's SPILL Tarot Pack

He recently received a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England to develop and present Departure (An Experiment in Human Salvage), a new performance involving live tattooing, which toured nationally in 2011-12.




Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture, Series: Rethinking Art’s Histories (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2012).

Theatre & the Visual, with a foreword by Del LaGrace Volcano, Series: Theatre& (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

(Editor), Manuel Vason: Encounters – Performance, Photography, Collaboration (Bristol: Arnolfini, 2007).

(Editor), Franko B: Blinded by Love (Bologna: Damiani, 2006).

Guest-edited journal

Contemporary Theatre Review, Special Issue: Live Art in the UK, 22.1 (2012).

Articles and chapters

‘Introduction: The What, Where and When of Live Art’, Contemporary Theatre Review, Special Issue: Live Art in the UK, 22.1 (2012), pp. 1-16

‘Positive Surrender: An Interview with Breyer P-Orridge’, Contemporary Theatre Review, Special Issue: Live Art in the UK, 22.1 (2012), pp. 134-45.

‘Perverse Martyrologies: An Interview with Ron Athey’, Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History, ed. Amelia Jones and Adrian Heathfield (Bristol and London: Intellect and Live Art Development Agency, 2012). Reprint.

'The Skin of the Theatre: An Interview with Julia Bardsley', Contemporary Theatre Review, 20.3 (2010), pp. 340-52. 

‘Ron Athey’s Visions of Excess: Performance After Georges Bataille’, Papers of Surrealism, 8 (Spring 2010), pp. 1-12.

‘E Hate Death: Performance After Genesis P-Orridge’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 20.2 (2010), pp. 246-9.

'Psychic Weight: The Pains and Pleasures of Performance', ORLAN: A Hybrid Body of Artworks, ed. by Simon Donger with Simon Shepherd and ORLAN (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 84-99. 

‘False Messiah: Oreet Ashery’s Saint/s of Whitstable’, Oreet Ashery: Dancing with Men (London: Live Art Development Agency, 2009), pp. 94-7.

‘Jack Smith’s Rehearsals for the Destruction of Atlantis: “Exotic” Ritual and Apocalyptic Tone’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 19.2 (2009), pp. 164-80.

‘Perverse Martyrologies: An Interview with Ron Athey’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 18.4 (Autumn 2008), pp. 503-13.

‘The Wound Kept Open: Jack Smith, Queer Performance and Cultural Failure’, Women and Performance, 16.4 (Summer 2007), pp. 3-18.

‘It Only Hurts Because It’s True: Recent Live Art and Performance in the UK’, Western European Stages, 19.1 (Winter 2007), pp. 9-14.

‘Passing Intimacies: Manuel Vason’s Photographic Encounters’, Manuel Vason: Encounters – Performance, Photography, Collaboration (Bristol: Arnolfini, 2007), pp. 10-7.

'Aftermaths: A Dialogue with Kira O'Reilly', Manuel Vason: Encounters – Performance, Photography, Collaboration (Bristol: Arnolfini, 2006), pp. 204-7.

‘Blinded by Lights, Hounded by Love’, Franko B: Blinded by Love (Bologna: Damiani, 2006), pp. 10-4.

‘No Love: Remnants of a Modern Unconsoled’ in Slava Mogutin, Lost Boys (New York: PowerHouse Books, 2006), n.p.

‘The Poised Disturbances of Raimund Hoghe’, Dance Theatre Journal, 20.6 (2005), pp. 12-9.

(With Breyer P-Orridge), 'Why We Are Breaking Sex: Excerpts from a Dialogue with Dominic Johnson', Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong: Extremes of Human Sexuality (and Everything In Between), ed., Russ Kick (New York: Disinformation Press, 2005), pp. 345-8. 

Dominic has regularly published book reviews in academic and trade journals in performance and visual studies including Contemporary Theatre Review, Theatre Research International, Art History, and Frieze.


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