Malin Hedlin Hayden, professor i konstvetenskap.

Malin Hedlin Hayden


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Works at Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Telephone 08-16 33 55
Visiting address Frescativägen 22B-26
Room C 417
Postal address Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Malin Hedlin Hayden is Professor in Art History and former Head of Art History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics.

Her main fields of research include post war and contemporary art, with a particular interest in historiography, analysis of concepts, feminisms, and display practices.

She is editor of the book series Teoretiska tillämpningar i konstvetenskap (Theoretical Applications in Art History), part of the Basic Readings in Culture and Aesthetics series.

She received her PhD at Uppsala University in 2003 with the dissertation Out of Minimalism: The referential Cube. Contextualising sculptures by Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread (Department of Art History, Uppsala University, Acta Universitatis Figura Nova, nr 29, Uppsala 2003).

Hedlin Hayden has been lecturing and teaching art and art theory since 1996. 2003-2006 she worked as Senior Lecturer at the Department of Art History, Uppsala University; 2006-2009 Senior Lecturer in Art History, The Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, while also holding a full-time postdoctoral scholarship granted by Åke Wibergs Stiftelse; in 2009-2013 Hedlin Hayden was Assistant Professor at the Department of Art History, Stockholm University. She was a Senior Lecturer in Art History at Stockholm University 2014-2016.


Research projects

Rhetorical feminism: gendered artists and political beliefs 2000-2010.

By returning to the notion of feminist art, this project partly departs from aspects that I examined and conclusions drawn in Video Art Historicized: traditions and negotiations. Feminist art refers to a particular historical trajectory within post-war and contemporary art, and it operates conceptually and ideologically in relation to a broad and intricate field of art produced most often by women artists dealing with "women issues". With Rhetorical feminism I examine this specifically politicized trajectory of art production. This is performed by examining in-depth various theories, ideas, and definitions of "feminist art", its genealogies and affiliations, and their circulation within art history and art critique. I examine art historical contexts where feminist classifications of women artists were enacted and turned into a normative aspect of narrative structures henceforth operating self-explanatory. By addressing a particular art form, which serves as a case-study, the concept “feminism” is upset in relation to how it is variously defined in relation to what it is supposed to imply: i.e. the conceptual location as a particular aesthetic, the gender of the artist, and/or political engagement. By tracing feminist art theory and the historical events and subjects of which it speaks, the project interrogates this particular trajectory and explores its impact, legacies as well as its (possible) failures. 

Funded by the Swedish Research Council, 2015-2017.

Performance as visual art in Sweden

Together with my colleague PhD/Senior Lecturer Magdalena Holdar I am starting up a collaborative research project that examines the processes of establishing performance as a particularly visual art form in a Swedish context. Whereas performance art has been center staged in international narratives of post-war and contemporary art during the last five decades, often described as a radically new method of artistic practice, this project aims at investigating the particular status, implications, and professional changes that performance art has underwent within this particular national context. The project departs from the presumption that whereas theories of how to interpret performance art as visual art does not need national translations or adjustments, its historic situation diverge between different countries in several aspects. For example, in Sweden performance art emerged in situations and sites outside of a fine art context and was not established as a “proper” art form until the 1990s, partly through the appearance of the independent curator. The independent curator’s entrance onto the art scene created a new balance and focus: performance did no longer appear as a subcategory of dance, theatre and music but became the art for alternative spaces. This shift has consequences for the theoretical and historical contexts in which performance is inscribed, interpreted, collected, and taught. The project examines various perspectives including the effects of a fine art context, contemporary curating of performance art, the presence of performance in the curriculum of higher art education, and its status in contemporary art collections.

Video Art Historicized: traditions and negotiations

In this work, I investigate the legitimizing and historicizing process of video art. Video art emerged as an art form that from the 1960s and onwards challenged the concept of art – hence, art historical practices. From the perspective of artists, critics, and scholars engaged with this new medium, art was seen as too limiting a notion. Important issues were to re-think art as a means for critical investigations and a demand for visual reconsiderations. Likewise, art history was argued to be in crisis and in need of adapting its theories and methods in order to produce interpretations and thereby establish historical sense for moving images as fine art. Yet, I argue that video art history has evolved into a discourse clinging to traditional concepts, ideologies, and narrative structures – manifested in an increasing body of texts. By focusing on the politics of this discourse, theoretical issues of gender, nationality, and particular themes in video art I contest the presumptions that inform video art and its history. By engaging art history’s most debated concepts (canon, art, and history) my aim has been to perform an in-depth investigation of the mechanisms of the historiography of video art. Scrutinizing various narratives on video art, I emphasize the profound and widespread hesitations towards, but also the efforts to negotiate, traditional concepts and practices. Video Art Historicized: traditions and negotiations is published by Ashgate Publishing Company, Studies in Art Historiography, Farnham, UK/Burlington, USA, 2015.

Her publications include: Video Art Historicized: traditions and negotiations (2015) and Out of Minimalism: The referential Cube. Contextualising sculptures by Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread (2003). She is co-editor with Mårten Snickare of Performativitet. Teoretiska tillämpningar i konstvetenskap (2017) and with Jessica Sjöholm Skrubbe of Feminisms is still our name. Seven essays on historiography and curatorial practices (2010). Her writing has appeared in anthologies, exhibition catalogues and art press such as Konsthistorisk tidskrift, n.paradoxa, and Art news.

Last updated: April 28, 2020

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