Sarah Perks is an international curator and writer, currently Professor of MIMA School of Art & Design, Middlesbrough, UK. Sarah’s practice looks at interdisciplinary curation, with a focus on socially and politically engaged contemporary visual art and the moving image.
Sarah is currently developing a number of major new curatorial projects, alongside consultancy, academia and writing. She is chair of Asia Triennial Manchester and Islington Mill Foundation (Salford) and a trustee of Alchemy Film & Arts. Her latest publication is Artist Moving Image in Britain since 1989, co-edited with Erika Balsom and Lucy Reynolds (Paul Mellon Centre for British Art Studies and Yale University Press). She was previously Professor of Visual Art at Manchester School of Art and Artistic Director at HOME Manchester. Prior to this, she was Artistic Director at the legendary Cornerhouse (2009-2015), pioneering new approaches to participatory and cross art form work.
Through establishing HOME Publishing, she has commissioned, co-edited and contributed to over twelve books, alternative exhibition guides which blend artists’ and short fiction commissioned internationally from writers including Douglas Coupland, Heather Phillipson and Jackie Kay. Sarah’s recent short stories include The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (2015), Fannie & Zora (2016) and Three Stories (2017), and she is currently completing her first novel adapted from a short piece in AL and AL’s Incidents of Travel in the Multiverse (Hayward Publishing).
Sarah Perks set up the internationally acclaimed project HOME Artist Film (previously Cornerhouse Artist Film) which includes a commitment to theatrical distribution of new artist features, and co-created Feature Expanded in 2014, an innovative Creative Europe funded training programme for visual artists making their first feature film. She has curated over 30 major exhibitions and produced new commissions for both solo and group working with artists including Rosa Barba, Phil Collins, Jeremy Deller, Stanya Kahn, James Richards, Judith Barry, Rachel Maclean, Rashid Rana, Yoshua Okon, and David Shrigley. Recent group exhibitions include The Return of Memory exploring post-Soviet ‘New East’ (with Subkultura publication), La Movida responding to 40 years since the first elections in Spain (with new fiction publication Dark Habits), Imitation of Life: Race and Melodrama in the 21st Century (including new publication Fear Eats the Soul) and The heart is deceitful above all things (including new publication Transactions of Desire), the last two with regular collaborator Dr Omar Kholeif (Sharjah Biennial 2019).
An established film producer, Sarah recently produced The Scar by Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler and supporting new feature films by Stefanos Tsivopoulous and Sarah Turner. In addition to exec-producing multiple short, features and installations including Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary winner Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Gabrielle Brady, 2018) and Edith Walks (Andrew Kotting, 2017), Sarah also acts as script editor and co-writer, for example Yoshua Okon’s Fridge Freezer (2015).
Previously, Sarah co-edited two special editions of Film International on both Hong Kong cinema and film noir involving a range of artists, filmmakers and writers and contributed to publications including Electronic Superhighway (Whitechapel Gallery, 2016). Sarah has led over 50 post-screening Q&As with many leading filmmakers and artists including Yael Bartana, Chris Morris, Lynne Ramsey and Steve McQueen. Sarah was one of Creative Review’s Creative Leaders 50 in 2017, a British Council Creative Entrepreneur finalist for Visual Arts in 2009 and is on advisory and charity boards including Islington Mill Salford, Northern Docs and Tromso Kunstforening, Norway.