Scott Watson

Wall Associate




Art History, Visual Art & Theory





Geographic Location

Scott Watson

Scott Watson is Head (2012- ) and Professor (2003- ) at the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory and Director/Curator of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (1989- ) at the University of British Columbia. He is Director and Graduate Advisor for the Critical Curatorial Studies program, which he helped initiate in September 2002. Recent distinctions include the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art (2010), Alvin Balkind Award for Creative Curatorship in British Columbia Arts (2008), the UBC Dorothy Somerset Award for Performance Development in the Visual and Performing Arts (2005), and invitation to the UBC Chancellor’s Circle (2005).

Professor Watson has published extensively in the areas of contemporary Canadian and international art.  His research focus is contemporary art and issues, art theory and criticism, 20th century art history, curatorial and exhibition studies.

Primary Recipient Awards

Scott Watson – International Research Roundtables – 2018

Curating Critical Pedagogies

Our Roundtable will examine the pedagogical role of the academic art gallery. Situated within the university, the campus gallery is understood as an ideal space for experiments in curating that foster critical practice. However, since the 1990s, curators and artists have increasingly employed pedagogical models in an effort to operate self-critically and to connect with larger socio-political concerns. This “educational turn” in curating often includes the use of open educational models as exhibition platforms that invite public engagement. As educational practice is increasingly mobilized in contemporary art exhibitions, one is left wondering: What are the best practices in curating and how should the academic gallery situate itself within this context?

We will gather international artists, curators, critics and educators to critically examine the use of experimental educational formats in the practice of art and curating. By challenging the standard framing and mediation of artworks, these programs are an attempt to critique the politics of artistic production and circulation that is increasingly determined by the market.

Roundtable questions include, “What is the relationship between critique and the institution? Can the gallery serve as a site of critical and discursive practice? What does it mean to operate self-reflexively? Can one contest the institution, such as the university or museum, by occupying it differently? How are publics perceived and produced through artistic models of engagement?” These questions will be explored by practitioners working in a range of institutions whose practices engage alternative models of pedagogical engagement.

Scott Watson – Arts-Based Initiatives – 2016

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Catherine Malabou – French Scholars Lecture Series – 2017
Shelly Rosenblum – International Research Roundtables – 2013
Speculative Cities Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Shelly Rosenblum, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC; Professor Keith Wallace, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC; Professor Scott Watson, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC. Speculative Cities is designed to foster an international dialogue on the contemporary city, focusing on port cities and cities that have reinvented themselves in the past forty years. Bringing together architects, urban planners, artists, curators, and scholars from Dubai and Panama City with those from Vancouver, this roundtable will provide a valuable forum for an in-depth exchange of research on the intersections of urban studies, contemporary art, and public engagement that is relevant to all gateway cities. Speculative Cities seeks to focus discussion around the complex strata of publics who inhabit such cities. In helping to understand the conditions that have produced various affinities across these urban sites, this roundtable will provide timely new knowledge on global urbanization and mobilities, as well as on the after-effects of late 20th century nationalisms. The objective of Speculative Cities is to present a platform in which Vancouver can both lead and learn from these examples, and its distinct identity within an international context can be more clearly articulated.