Professor Sarah Perks is an international curator, film producer and writer. Sarah’s practice looks at contemporary cross art form curation, with a focus on politically engaged contemporary visual art and counteracting the toxic narratives of our time.
Sarah weaves together contemporary curation, commissioning, producing and programming, creative writing and academia to move across traditional terrains of history of art, visual studies, film studies, cultural studies, curatorial studies and production from fine art to film to theatre, expanding the possibilities of each with both audiences and artists. She is currently Professor of Visual Art at Manchester School of Art and Artistic Associate at HOME Manchester. Previously, she was Artistic Director at the legendary Cornerhouse (2009-2015) and Artistic Director for the opening cycle of HOME (2015-2018).
Through HOME Publishing, she has commissioned, co-edited and contributed to over twelve books since opening, 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 is currently producing 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 Kötting, 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). Forthcoming is a major publication with Paul Mellon Centre / Yale University Press on artist moving image in Britain co-edited with Erika Balsom and Lucy Reynolds. 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 Tromsø Kunstforening, Norway.