Shailoh Phillips

Visiting tutor

Shailoh Phillips (1979, USA) has been teaching theory, research methods, and writing practices in the Master Photography and Society since it was launched in September 2018. She has a background in cultural anthropology, philosophy, cultural analysis, interaction design, and arts education. She never really stops learning, which is part of why she has a passion for creating a stimulating learning environment.

Besides teaching at the KABK, she also teaches Performative Action and Hacking at the Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam) and runs the Corpo-real Discourse Program in the MA of Interior Architecture. From 2017-2019 she worked as a researcher in the Critical Making Consortium ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’, exploring material notions of criticality.

Over the past decade, she has been cultivating a practice of constructive troublemaking. She is part of the international Tools for Action artist collective, working with inflatable sculptures in collaboration with protest movements. She also works with interactive installations, video, animation, photography and re-purposed machines.

Her practice is based in Studio Babel in Amsterdam, where she runs a community-based library of books and materials on the top floor of the former squat and autonomous collective Kostgewonnen. Before going independent, she worked for over a decade in the cultural field in multiple roles — as a game designer, screenwriter for television (VPRO), as the Media Lab manager at the Rijksmuseum and in digital arts educational institutions.

In 2018 she was awarded a grant from the Artistic Climate Summit (IepenUp / cultural Captital Leeuwaarden) for the ongoing project the Patent Liberation Front, working to free useful inventions from patent archives.

She is currently working on practice-based PhD as part of the Critical Making research group, investigating the circulation of visuals in the aftermath of protest and public demonstrations.

Although my own practice borders on activism, I do not expect the same of students. What is crucial, however, is to experiment, explore, question and allow your practice to be informed by others. Curiosity, intellectual generosity, a broad frame of reference, and an embodied way of listening and thinking are things that I bring to the classes, all intended to cultivate the courage to take risks and think through the ethical and conceptual dimensions of your work. One of the important parts of this is the practice of writing. For photographers, this is often a challenge, so we spend time on practicing creative, journalistic and academic writing skills. In my experience, making your thoughts explicit and sharable also feeds into the images you create and helps you to position yourself, as well as find out what you would like to contribute in shaping our world.
Shailoh Phillips, Q&A in Der Greif