Hélia Marçal


Culture, Identities, and Power



Hélia Marçal is Lecturer in Art, Materials, and Technology at University College London‘s Department of History of Art and an integrated researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History (NOVA University Lisbon).

She worked as a Fellow in Contemporary Art Conservation and Research of the Andrew W. Mellon funded research project “Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum” at Tate (2018-2020) and as a Science Manager at the Institute of Contemporary History, NOVA University Lisbon (2017-2018). Cumulatively to these positions she has been the Coordinator of the Working Group on Theory, History, and Ethics of Conservation of the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation since 2016.

Her current research interests are positioned within feminist new materialisms, material histories of activist artworks, ethics and performativity of cultural heritage, the conservation of time-based media and performance art, and both the materiality of contemporary art and the ways it is positioned and negotiated by museum, heritage, and conservation practices. Drawing on feminist epistemological lenses, she often explores issues of performativity, participation, partiality, and positionality in both her research and teaching. Her recent book project looks at current forms of activist performance to interrogate the wider politics of conservation of cultural heritage in the public sphere.

Research fields

  • Materiality in the conservation of time-based media and performance art
  • Feminist new materialisms
  • Ethics and performativity of cultural heritage
  • Notions of periphery/decentring, inclusions/exclusions, in material art histories and conservation

Selected publications

  • Marçal, Hélia. “Becoming Difference: On the Ethics of Conserving the In-Between,” Studies in Conservation (2021). [PDF]
  • Madeira, Cláudia, Fernando Matos Oliveira & Hélia Marçal (Coords.). Práticas de Arquivo em Artes Performativas. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 2020. [PDF]
  • Marçal, Hélia. “Contemporary Art Conservation.” published as part of the research project Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum, Tate, 2019, https://www.tate.org.uk/research/reshaping-the-collectible/research-approach-conservation.
  • Marçal, Hélia Pereira. “Conservation in an era of participation,” Journal of the Institute of Conservation 40 (2017): 97-104. [PDF]*


* Taylor & Francis and ICON Award for Outstanding Contribution (2017)

Main projects

  • Individual project “Memory ecologies of performance art: between memory, performance, and political activism (1965-1981)” — Hosted by the IHC and funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (2020.04286.CEECIND). 2021-2027
  • Team member in the project “Documentation and Conservation of Performance” — Coordinated by Louise Lawson and funded by Tate. 2018-2020 [link]
  • Fellow in Contemporary Art Conservation and Research in the project “Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum” — Coordinated by Pip Laurenson (Tate) and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 2018-2020 [link]


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