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Institute of Art History

Dr. Charlotte Matter

Charlotte Matter is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Art History and the scientific coordinator of the specialized Master’s program Art History in a Global Context. Her doctoral thesis, titled The Politics of Plastics: Feminist Approaches to New Materials in Art, 1960s and 1970s, explored how women artists and critics challenged sexist discourses in art and claimed plastics as feminist substances. Examining the works of Lea Lublin and Carla Accardi in particular, as well as Nicola L, Margarita Paksa, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Alina Szapocznikow, the study reflected on gender and materiality in relation to notions of labor, social reproduction, sexuality, and sickness. The dissertation also considered the global boom of exhibitions on plastics and the discourse on these new industrial materials in art, juxtaposing the perspectives of critics such as Lucy R. Lippard and Pierre Restany.

In 2019/2020, Charlotte Matter was a research fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History within the Rome Contemporary initiative and a resident at the  Istituto Svizzero di Roma. In early 2018, she conducted archival research in Buenos Aires. From 2016 to 2017, she was assistant at the Chair of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Art History. Previously, she coordinated the research project New Art Histories: Connecting Ideas, Objects and Institutions in Latin America. She completed her studies in art history and film studies at the University of Zurich in 2015 with a Master’s thesis on the work Tropicália by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, examining the shift in meaning between the two exhibition contexts in Rio de Janeiro (Museu de Arte Moderna, 1967) and London (Whitechapel Gallery, 1969).

Charlotte Matter is co-initiator of the research project Rethinking Art History through Disability and a founding member of CARAH – Collective for Anti-Racist Art History. Since summer 2023, she is co-editor of Sculpture Journal at Liverpool University Press.

Research Interests

  • Artistic practices from the 1960s to the present day
  • Feminist art and theory
  • Materiality
  • Intersectional and decolonial methods
  • Collectivity in art; labor and non-productivity
  • Disability Studies / Crip Theory
  • Italian art of the post-war period; art and architecture in Latin America


  • MA Seminar “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: Class and Classism in Art and Theory” (English), University of Zurich, spring 2024
  • MA Seminar “Love, Pain, Anger, Joy: Intersectional Perspectives on Emotions in Art and Theory” (English), University of Zurich, spring 2023
  • Lecture Course “Complicity: An Art History of Collective Practices” (German and French), University of Fribourg, spring 2023
  • Lecture Series “Care, Disability and Art” (English), organized with Virginia Marano, Laura Valterio, Marie-France Rafael und Judith Welter, University of Zurich & Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK, spring 2023
  • Seminar “Collectivity as a Decolonial Option in Art and Theory” (German), Lectureship in Gender/Queer/Decolonial Studies, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, fall 2022
  • Field trip to London “Bodies of Difference: Disability, Art History, and the Museum” (English), with Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio, University of Zurich, fall 2022
  • Exercise and field trip to Venice “The Fraught Significations of Contemporary Biennials” (English), with Julie Ren and Rosa Sancarlo, University of Zurich, spring/fall 2022
  • MA Seminar “Collectivity and Decolonial Resistance: Groups and Movements, 20th Century to Today” (English), University of Zurich, spring 2022
  • MA Seminar “Gender, Art and Global Issues” (English), University of Zurich, spring 2021
  • Workshop “Material and Gender: Feminist Explorations of Plastics in Art” (German), Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, spring 2021
  • MA Seminar “Ca. 1968: Radical Experiments Around the Globe” (German), University of Zurich, fall 2018
  • BA Seminar “Poetics and Politics of the Everyday” (German and French), University of Fribourg, fall 2018
  • BA Seminar “Spain, Portugal and the ‘New World’ 1500–1800” (German), University of Zurich, spring 2018
  • MA Seminar “‘Global Tools’: Methods and Concepts of an Art History in a Global Context” (German), University of Zurich, fall 2017
  • Field trip to Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel (German), with Seraina Renz, spring 2017
  • Propaedeutic Lecture Course: Introduction to Art History (German), University of Zurich, fall 2016
  • Field trip to Brazil “Latin American Modernities: Models of Collecting and Exhibiting Art” (English), with Julia Gelshorn and Tristan Weddigen, fall 2016
  • Exercise Course “Manifesta” (German), University of Zurich, spring 2016
  • Field trip to Argentina and Bolivia “Baroque and Neo-Baroque as ‘Contact Zones’” (English), with Tristan Weddigen, spring 2016
  • Workshop “Politics of Display: Histories of / through Exhibitions” (English), with Tristan Weddigen, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, spring 2015
  • Exercise Course “Biennials and Other Large-Scale Exhibitions in a Global Context” (German), with Tirdad Zolghadr, University of Zurich, spring 2015



  • Feminist Substances: Plastics in Art of the 1960s and 1970s, book manuscript from PhD thesis (in development with the “Rethinking Art’s Histories” series at Manchester University Press).

Edited Volumes

  • Teresa Kittler and Charlotte Matter, eds., The Last Plastics Show, special issue of Sculpture Journal, Liverpool University Press (forthcoming).
  • Bassing-Kontopidis, Antonie, Laura Hindelang, Charlotte Matter, and Filine Wagner, eds. Into the Wild: Kunst und Architektur im globalen Kontext / Art and Architecture in a Global Context. Munich: Edition Metzel, 2018.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “White Feminism’s Ghosts: Friendship, Race and Rivolta Femminile.” In The Art of Us: Couples and Collaboration in Contemporary Italy, edited by Sharon Hecker and Teresa Kittler. London: Bloomsbury (forthcoming).
  • Virginia Marano, Charlotte Matter, and Laura Valterio. “Beyond Representation: Disability in Art History.” In Aktuelle Kunstgeschichte/n, edited by Birte Kleine-Benne. Berlin: Logos (in print).
  • “The Sexual Lives of Inside Outside’s Curtains.” In Art Applied: Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse, edited by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen, 48–53. London: Mack Books, 2024.
  • Julie Ren, Charlotte Matter, Rosa Sancarlo, and Virginia Marano. “Crisis and Collectives Shaping Art Events: From Events that Matter to Events that Care.” Third Text 37, no. 5–6 (2023): 601–615. Open Access
  • “Sappho’s Violets: Sarah Bernhardt at the Petit Palais.” Texte zur Kunst, no. 131 (September 2023): 176–181.
  • “Sculptural Heads and Feminist Minds.” In Wanda Czełkowska: An Absolute Artist, edited by Matylda Taszycka, exhibition catalog Muzeum Susch, 169–175. Milan: Skira, 2023.
  • “Withdrawing (and Returning): Refusal in Art Around 1968.” In NO Rhetoric(s): Versions and Subversions of Resistance in Contemporary Global Art, edited by Sara Alonso Gómez, Isabel Piniella Grillet, Nadia Radwan, and Elena Rosauro, 67–91. Zurich: Diaphanes, 2023. Open Access
  • “Aufstand der liegenden Körper.” Texte zur Kunst, no. 128 (December 2022): 205–209. Online
  • “Where Do You Stand with Your Art, Colleague?” Translated by Gerrit Jackson. Texte zur Kunst, no. 125 (March 2022): 30–49. Online
  • “Laziness in Lotus Land: Hélio Oiticica and the Notion of Crelazer.” In Orto, edited by Istituto Svizzero di Roma, 40–53. Rome: Nero, 2020.
  • “Papierarbeiten.” Translated by Tim Beeby and Sabine Bürger. In Peter Fischli: Kunsthaus Bregenz, edited by Thomas D. Trummer, exhibition catalog Kunsthaus Bregenz, 368–374. Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2020.
  • “Lazy Eyes: Robert Smithson and Cyprien Gaillard in Mexico.” In Into the Wild: Art and Architecture in a Global Context, edited by Antonie Bassing-Kontopidis, Laura Hindelang, Charlotte Matter, and Filine Wagner, 89–98. Munich: Edition Metzel, 2018.
  • “Furniture and Masks: Mimesis in the Work of Bruno Gironcoli.” Translated by Jennifer Taylor. In Bruno Gironcoli: Shy at Work; Works on Paper, edited by Manuela Ammer, exhibition catalog mumok Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, 270–280. Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2018.

Other Publications

  • Antirassismus in der Kunstgeschichte: Ein (unfertiger) Leitfaden, 2022, co-written as member of CARAH – Collective for Anti-Racist Art History. PDF Download (PDF, 1 MB)

Presentations and Conferences

Organized Panels and Symposia

  • Session “The Last Plastics Show,” co-chair with Teresa Kittler, CIHA Congress Matter / Materiality, Lyon, June 2024
  • Symposium The Politics of (Self) Care: A Symposium on Disability Justice and Collective Action as Self-Care, with contributions by Alice Hattrick, Cat Dawson, Mae Howard, Sarah Browne, Elaine Lillian Joseph, and Johanna Hedva, co-organized with Michael Birchall, Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, November 18, 2023
  • Workshop Unlearn the Body: New Approaches on Disability and Art History, co-organized with Amanda Cachia, Virginia Marano, and Laura Valterio, University of Zurich, June 3–4, 2022
  • Symposium In Light of Crisis: The Fraught Significations of Contemporary Biennials, co-organized with Ifigeneia Dimitrakou, Virginia Marano, Julie Ren, and Rosa Sancarlo, University of Zurich, May 19–20, 2022
  • Workshop Plastic Boom / Plastic Doom, co-organized with Teresa Kittler, Istituto Svizzero di Roma [online], July 2, 2020
  • Colloquium Into the Wild: Art and Architecture in a Global Context, 17th Colloquium for Young Researchers of Art History in Switzerland, co-organized with Antonie Bassing-Kontopidis, Laura Hindelang, and Filine Wagner, University of Zurich, November 6–7, 2015

Selected Papers

  • “Ein Raum für sich: Separatismus und kollektive Fürsorge in feministisch-queeren Kunsträumen seit den 1970er Jahren,” lecture series Rethinking Feminisms: Past, Present, Future, Universität für angewandte Kunst Vienna, April 10, 2024
  • “Feminist Attachments and Race in Rivolta Femminile,” workshop Couples and Artistic Collaboration in Modern Italy, American Academy in Rome, November 30, 2023
  • “Misfitting: Functional Diversity in Art History,” with Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio, lecture series Critical Disability Studies, University of Bern, November 29, 2023
  • “The Personal is Political: Toxic Materials in Art,” conference Synthetic Histories: Plastics, Climate and Colonialism, organized by the Paul Mellon Centre at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dundee, January 27, 2023
  • “Learning from Disability in Art History,” with Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio, lecture series Kunstgeschichte/n verlernen, umlernen, neulernen, Bauhaus University Weimar [online], December 8, 2022
  • “Viscous, Erogenous, Awkward: Materiality and the Body in the Work of Alina Szapocznikow and Louise Bourgeois,” colloquium In-Between: Alina Szapocznikow and Louise Bourgeois, Institut national d’histoire de l’art INHA, Paris, October 8, 2022
  • “Home as a ‘Site of Resistance’ in Exhibition Spaces,” CIHA World Congress Motion: Migrations, São Paulo [online], January 20, 2022
  • “Feministische Perspektiven auf Kunststoffe in der Kunst,” guest lecture at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden [online], December 6, 2021
  • “The Anagram as Method: Lea Lublin’s Fluvio Subtunal (1969),” lecture Series Cultura visual y cultura material: Aproximaciones multidisciplinarias al espacio urbano, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM, Mexico City [online], March 18, 2021 watch online
  • “A Material of One’s Own: Carla Accardi and Sicofoil,” study day Carla Accardi: Contesti, organized by Maria Grazia Messina and Giorgia Gastaldon, Museo del Novecento di Milano [online], March 11, 2021
  • “Matière à controverse: Le plastique dans l’art vers 1968,” lecture series Actualité de la recherche, University of Geneva, October 7, 2020
  • “‘What’s To Be Done About Art?’ Strategies of Refusal around 1968,” workshop NO Rhetoric(s): Versions and Subversions of Resistance in Contemporary Global Art, University of Bern and University of Zurich, September 14, 2019
  • “Unbehagliche Materialien: Kunststoffe und die Kontroverse um die Ausstellung Materiales, nuevas técnicas, nuevas expresiones (Buenos Aires, 1968),” symposium Kunst und Material: Repräsentation, Stofflichkeit, Prozesse, Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft SIK-ISEA, November 2, 2018
  • “Synthetische Realismen: Kunststoff und Wirklichkeit bei Lea Lublin,” Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians in Switzerland VKKS, Performing Reality, Kunstmuseum Bern, August 31, 2018
  • “Plastics in Argentina: Local Manifestations of a Global Material,” colloquium Worlding Art History: Negotiating the Global and the Local, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, March 17, 2018
  • “Symptom as Method: Defective Visions of Mexico,” conference América Latina: contaminación / contagio / síntoma, Latin America Center, Zurich, November 25, 2017
  • “Nature After Nature: Tetsumi Kudo’s ‘New Ecology,’” Swiss Doctoral Summer School for Art History, Mendrisio, June 17, 2017
  • “Inflatable Art and Alternative Futures in the Space Age,” doctoral seminar Cold Atlantic: Cultural War, Dissident Artistic Practices, Networks and Contact Zones at the Time of the Iron Curtain, University of Barcelona, September 8–9, 2016
  • “Plastic Utopias: Models and Experiments in Argentinian Artistic Practices, 1966–1973,” Conference Contact Zones, Centro de Investigación en Arte, Materia y Cultura, Buenos Aires, April 22, 2016
  • “How to Look at It: Harun Farockis Das Silber und das Kreuz (2010),” lecture Kunst und Architektur der frühen Neuzeit und Moderne in Lateinamerika, University of Zurich, September 22, 2015
  • “Why Look at Animals? A Cross-Reading of Hélio Oiticica and Marcel Broodthaers,” conference Theoretical Challenges: A Revision of the Historiography of Colonial Art in the Iberian World, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, June 3–5, 2015
  • “On Repeat: Parrot Problems,” conference Possibilities of Exchange: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art / University of Edinburgh, May 13–14, 2015


  • Roundtable “Wie kann inklusive Kunstgeschichte in Forschung und Lehre gelingen?”, German Congress for Art History, Erlangen-Nürnberg, March 13, 2024
  • Roundtable “Thinking through Contemporary Global Art,” speakers: Sara Alonso Gómez, Kendell Geers, Charlotte Matter and Isabel Piniella Grillet, moderation: Nadia Radwan, University of Bern, March 8, 2024
  • Roundtable “Zur Lage der Rezension,” organized by the International Association of Art Critics AICA and Texte zur Kunst, speakers: Oliver Hardt, Annekathrin Kohout and Charlotte Matter, moderation: Antonia Kölbl and Anna Sinofzik, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, October 6, 2023 watch online
  • Panel discussion “Face, Head, and After-Face in Wanda Czełkowska’s Art: Matter, Meanings, and Interpretations,” speakers: Ewa Opałka, Charlotte Matter and Matylda Taszycka, moderation: Anna Szyjkowska-Piotrowska, Muzeum Susch [online], October 28, 2023 watch online
  • Roundtable “Art History Update,” organized by Texte zur Kunst, speakers: Kate Brehme, Charlotte Matter and Eric Otieno Sumba, moderation: Christian Liclair, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, December 1, 2022 watch online

Artist Talks and Public Outreach

  • Reading group “Race and Antiracism in Art,” co-organized as part of CARAH – Collective for Anti-Racist Art History, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, since September 2022
  • Artist Talk with Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński, co-organized as part of CARAH, Coalmine Raum für Fotografie, Winterthur, April 21, 2023
  • Screening “An Experience Like That,” with works by Howardena Pindell, Black Audio Film Collective, Aykan Safoğlu and Ivy Monteiro, co-organized as part of CARAH, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, June 23, 2022
  • Artist talk with Panteha Abareshi, Nina Mühlemann and Edwin Ramirez, Kunsthaus Zurich, June 2, 2022 watch online (from 47:35 on)
  • Artist talk with After Party Collective (Vidisha-Fadescha and Shaunak Mahbubani), co-moderated with Simon Würsten Marin [online], March 22, 2022
  • Artist talk with Jesse Darling, co-moderated with Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio, Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK [online], November 15, 2021
  • Artist talk with James Bantone and Mohamed Almusibli, co-organized as part of CARAH [online], November 12, 2021
  • Artist talk with Robert Andy Coombs, co-moderated with Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio [online], October 11, 2021
  • Screening “Radical Futurisms,” with works by Black Quantum Futurism, Thirza Jean Cuthand and the Otolith Group, co-organized with Katharina Bedenbender, Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome [online], January 11, 2021
  • Curators talk with Fanny Hauser and Viktor Neumann, “When the Sick Rule the World,” co-moderated with Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio [online], November 16, 2020

Research Collaborations

Current Projects

Completed Projects

  • Latin American Modernities: Models of Collecting and Exhibiting Art, joint research initiative with the University of Fribourg, directed by Julia Gelshorn and Tristan Weddigen (2016–2017)
  • Constructed Identities and Entangled Histories: Architectural Case Studies in the Philippines, joint research initiative with the Department of Art Studies, University of the Philippines UPD, directed by Patrick Flores and Tristan Weddigen (2016–2017)
  • Substances of Modernity: Materials in Modern Mexican Architecture, joint research initiative with the Instituto de Investigaciones Estética, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM, directed by Peter Krieger and Tristan Weddigen (2015–2016)



  • Co-founder and organizer of the annual exhibition Plattform from 2007 to 2016, member of the advisory board since 2017
  • Co-curator of Kill All Monsters, with Séverine Fromaigeat and Reto Thüring, Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel, May 25–June 29, 2014
  • Co-curator of Regionale 11, with Martina Venanzoni, Basel, November 27, 2010–January 2, 2011

Weiterführende Informationen

Charlotte Matter


Institute of Art History
University of Zurich
Office: Rämistrasse 59, RAA G 29
Postal address: Rämistrasse 73
CH-8006 Zurich
+41 44 634 56 22
Pronouns: she/her

Office Hours
Mondays, 10:00–12:00
Book a meeting here

Polaroid image of the artist Mae Howard during their performance (Im)Mobility Appendage in collaboration with Mistrix Sunmi on April 10, 2022. Mae is wearing all white, kneeling at a prayer bench. Their hands are clasped together and their head is bowed down. Mistrix Sunmi, wearing all black, can be seen from behind, piercing a needle through Mae’s back.

Symposium “The Politics of (Self) Care”

A Symposium on Disability Justice and Collective Action as Self-Care, with contributions by Alice Hattrick, Cat Dawson, Mae Howard, Sarah Browne, Elaine Lillian Joseph, and Johanna Hedva

Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst Zurich, November, 18, 2023

Program with abstracts and speaker bios

[Image description: Polaroid image of the artist Mae Howard during their performance (Im)Mobility Appendage in collaboration with Mistrix Sunmi on April 10, 2022. Mae is wearing all white, kneeling at a prayer bench. Their hands are clasped together and their head is bowed down. Mistrix Sunmi, wearing all black, can be seen from behind, piercing a needle through Mae’s back.]

Institute Colloquium Spring 2023: Care, Disability and Art

More about Institute Colloquium Spring 2023: Care, Disability and Art

A lecture series with artists and researchers exploring the social and political dimensions of care at the intersection of gender, race, and disability in art and art history

Program (PDF)

[Image description: A layout in gray tones with ornamental elements and the title of the lecture series in large, slightly slanted letters. In-between is an image of a work by Jilian Crochet, a soft sculpture with organic shapes covered with velvet. The flyer, created by Rietlanden Women’s Office, looks like it was designed with adhesive strips on a photocopier.]

MA Art History in a Global Context

Specialized Master “Art History in a Global Context”

Download the course flyer or visit our website to find out more about the Master’s program and current activities

[Image description: A concrete building with distinctive windows that look like smashed holes, underlaid with red grids. An adjacent building with a narrow water tower is connected through diagonal overpasses. In the foreground, people in swimsuits sunbathe on a wooden platform. Below is a caption reading: Lina Bo Bardi, SESC Pompéia, São Paulo, 1977–1986]

Park McArthur, “Ramps” at Essex Street, New York, 2014

Research Project “Rethinking Art History Through Disability”

Further information and current activities on the project’s website

[Image description: A view of Park McArthur’s exhibition Ramps at Essex Street Gallery. Various ramps are laid out on the dark floor in a strict geometric arrangement. Some of them look new and industrially made, while most of the others seem improvised and heavily worn].

Workshop “Unlearn the Body: New Approaches on Disability and Art History”

This two-day workshop, taking place at the University of Zurich in June 2022, brought together a diverse group of thinkers to share and explore different approaches to engage with disability in art and art history. Panteha Abareshi held a keynote lecture entitled “The Disabled Body as Fundamental Taboo.”

[Image description: A graphic work by Panteha Abareshi featuring a photo of a hand-held dynamometer, a device used to measure the strength of muscles. The black-and-white photo is framed by color test strips on either side. Below that, capital letters read: The Medical Gaze Is a Weapon.]

“Anti-Racism in Art History: An (Unfinished) Guide” (in German) by CARAH – Collective for Anti-Racist Art History 

Download (PDF)