Jennifer Hope Davy

Advising Fellow at the European Graduate School / EGS.


Jennifer Hope Davy is an artist and writer whose practice centers on the politics and potentiality of perception and interruption, mediating between cognition and visibility. Working across disciplines, her work largely operates in the form of a gesture, an act, or a proposition appearing as exhibition, performance, fiction and art writing. Based in Berlin, she also freelances primarily as an editor and sometimes curator and guest professor.

Davy received her BFA in interdisciplinary studies from the San Francisco Art Institute, where she was awarded an honors studio working primarily in sculpture, installation and performance, and initiated the first BFA graduate exhibition. While in San Francisco, Davy became assistant director of refusalon gallery under Shmulik Krampf and Charles Linder curating, among others, the well-received exhibition, sound, with artists Steve Roden and Brandon LaBelle, before relocating to San Antonio for family reasons. There she obtained an MA in modern and contemporary art history and criticism from the University of Texas San Antonio completing the thesis, Tableau Vivant: Staging the artifice in contemporary art. Through theoretical interplays from Denis Diderot to Rosalind Krauss and Douglas Crimp to Kaja Silverman, the thesis investigated the role of staging and artifice in the work of late 20th century artists such as Matthew Barney, Vanessa Beecroft, Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sam Taylor-Wood and Jeff Wall, through the lens of the tableau vivant as a strategic device both pictorially and performatively, where the event of the living picture is suspended as image. During her tenure in Texas, Davy became an adjunct professor of art and art history at the University of Texas San Antonio, a regular contributor of art criticism, curator of exhibitions regionally and abroad and ran the project space Tortilleria La Popular.

Continuing to play with themes revolving around the ‘operative mode of staging’, Davy relocated to Berlin to complete her PhD under the supervision of Hubertus von Amelunxen and Samuel Weber at The European Graduate School with the dissertation entitled unfulfilled fullfillment: staging the aporetic potential (or simply mourning the aporia). Here, Davy critically encounters works in both theory and art that make tangible the untenable and the potentiality afforded therein. The idea and practice at work here sought to “mourn” aporias for (their) potentiality, operable in staging the aporia as such, where, like mourning, staging is a way of mobilizing the impasse. This trajectory was set forth through Jacques Derrida’s aporetic excavation tracing Heidegger, Levinas, and Freud in Aporias and Giorgio Agamben’s notion of potentiality (including Derrida’s ‘aporetic potential’) and the poetics of inoperativity. Paralleling this theoretical tracing and retracing are works by Manet, Cezanne, Duchamp, The Atlas Group/Walid Raad, Frances Alÿs, and Johanna Billing. What becomes traceable in each particular work is its capacity to activate what would otherwise be an impasse and keeping it activated. Such capacity appears predicated on the ‘impotential’ enacted in their stagings, enabling a passage without passage.

In addition to her ‘adjunct professorship’ at the University of Texas at San Antonio, she has been a visiting professor in art and media studies at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston; Transart Institute, New York/Berlin; and The Institute of International Studies/Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok. As a former contributor to Art USArt LiesGlasstire and Sculpture Magazine, Davy has also contributed essays and reviews to various catalogues and art journals such as: Tracing Mobility: Cartography and Migration in Networked Space, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2011); Material Culture, TCU Press (2010); Blanton Museum of Art: American Art Since 1900. Blanton Museum of Art (2006); Come Forward: Emerging Art in Texas, Dallas Museum of Art (2003); and Excavatio, Association internationale Zola et Naturalisme, University of Alberta (2005). She has also worked with many artists and organizations as a freelance curator, editor, writer, and producer, including: Art Pace, San Antonio; Between Bridges, Berlin; Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio; BMG Interactive, San Francisco; European Graduate School, Berlin; The Gudwin Agency, Berlin; Radiator Festival, UK; refusalon, San Francisco; Sala Diaz, San Antonio; Studio Wolfgang Tillmans, Berlin; Trampoline: Agency for Art and Media, Berlin; Zombie Studios, Seattle.

Davy’s artistic practice has culminated in various exhibitions, performances and readings with an emphasis on artist-run and non-profit arts organizations such as Artists Television Access, San Francisco, Beyond Baroque, Los Angeles, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio; BOCS, Sicily; Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich; FARM Cultura Park, Sicily; Kreuzberg Pavilion, Berlin; Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston; miss read, HKW, Berlin; The Reading Room, Bangkok; San Francisco Art InstituteTembusu College, National University Singapore, among others. Recent publications include the fiction collection entitled Pedestrian Stories (Delere Press), and a photography collection presented in the collaborative book project [Given, If, Then] A Reading in Three Parts (Punctum Press) with Jeremy Fernando and Julia Hölzl, the photographs of which have also exhibited in Mexico City (Studio Luz Maria Sanchez/ZONAMACO Open Studios) and Cologne (Galerie Quartier am Hafen).

Currently, Davy is a fellow with EGS and a fellow in residence with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship where she is adapting her short story, Inbetween Places, as an audio play, completing a photography collection for the forthcoming publication, On Endings (Delere Press), in collaboration with Julia Hölzl and Allison Grimaldi-Donahue, and beginning a novel. Staging Aporetic Potential, derived from her dissertation addressing staging and potentiality in critical theory and contemporary art, including additional works by Caravaggio and Carlos Amorales, is forthcoming.