Dr Margarita Kuleva

I’m Margarita Kuleva, a sociologist of culture, artist, and curator. I’m interested in exploring social inequalities in the art world and creative industries in order to develop fairer working conditions in the sector. Primarily, I work as an ethnographer to discover the ‘behind the scenes’ of cultural institutions to give greater visibility for the invisible workers of culture. Currently, I’m based at National Research University Higher School of Economics, St-Petersburg, where I work as an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, and in 2018-2022 held the position of chair of the Department of Design and Contemporary Art. I work as a curator at The Art Exchange.

I received my PhD in sociology from the National Research University Higher School of Economics in collaboration with Bielefeld University in 2019. My dissertation entailed a comparative study of the careers and professional identities of young cultural workers in visual art sectors in Moscow, St Petersburg and London. Based on more than 70 in-depth interviews, it was one of the first systematic studies on post-Soviet creative labour. Some findings from these studies are presented in recent journal publications, including Cultural Studies (2018) and International Journal of Cultural Studies (2019).

Since 2020, with Maria Safonova, I have co-led a research group ‘Digital Art History’. The project brings together sociologists, art-historians and designers and aims to write a social history of recent Russian art. The study aspires to give greater voice to less represented groups such as female artists and create new visual methodologies for the dissemination of the results (or, what we call ‘turning the digital turn’).

As a researcher, artist, and curator, I have worked with a number of Russian and international cultural institutions, including Manifesta Biennale, Pushkin House in London, Boston Center for the Arts, Garage MoCA, Goethe Institute, Helsinki Art Museum, Street Art Museum, Ural Industrial Biennale and New Holland St. Petersburg.