Aleda Wood Roberts (b. 1997) is a British/Canadian curator and researcher based in London. She completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Ontario in 2019, double majoring in Media, Information, and Technoculture (MIT) and Visual Art History. Aleda graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2023, with an MA in Curating Contemporary Art.
Aleda Wood Roberts
My practice focuses on the history of our senses and emotions influencing contemporary culture and experiences. I actively respond to neurodiverse characteristics and push for creating inclusive spaces. My curatorial method manifests through three primary emotions; fear, rage, and empathy.
Fear: approaching the curatorial through an anxious lens; reflecting and responding to lived experiences of sensory differences.
Rage: using the curatorial as a place for dialogue, challenging traditional notions of feminine emotions and continued expectations of passivity.
Empathy: intent behind acting with empathy, and the essentiality of enabling collaboration in the arts.
My recent dissertation examined how curators can approach scent-based artists and practices. My interest in olfactory emerged as I spent my first year at the Royal College of Art adjusting to an unfamiliar city and its pungent stimulation. I began questioning why I had so few words for something affecting many so strongly. My research endeavours to uncover some of this ambiguity of language and experience by entrapping all things fragrant, smelly, aromatic, and tangy. Looking specifically at scent as a medium, the research investigated curatorial understandings and methodologies for displaying olfactory art within exhibition spaces by mapping contemporary examples within the context of a non-visually central interpretation.
For the 2023 Curating Graduate Project, my team partnered with Gasworks on‘Blue Space,’ a collaboration between the artists Priysha Rajvanshi and Elise Guillaume. Here, I held the position of project manager, facilitating all aspects of the exhibition in planning, coordination, and execution.
Blue Space: The Changing Currents of Resilient Waterways (24 – 28 May), in partnership with Gasworks, is a collaboration between artists Priysha Rajvanshi and Elise Guillaume, that responds to our evolving relationship with nature, through the creation of a provisional shelter that gives voice to the environment. Large cyanotype sheets made in the River Thames by Rajvanshi have been adapted to form the tent’s canopy with a related projection across the interior walls. An original soundscape produced by Guillaume incorporates the vibration-based audio of natural elements with spoken word to allow a speculative conversation between humans and our surroundings. Through this, the artists invite visitors to slow down and listen to the earth to hear its perspective as we look to adapt to our changing world.
Priysha Rajvanshi is an Indian artist based in London whose work predominantly focuses on using photographic techniques to explore the overlapping relationship between bodies and the environment, in the context of healing. Recently, her practice has begun to handle ideas relating to enchantment and mobilising the photograph as a mode to reflect.
Elise Guillaume is a Belgian artist and filmmaker whose work explores our complex relationship with nature. Interested in the connections within our (eco)systems, she uses audio-visual mediums to create contrasting narratives to question what it means to be human in a time of crisis and extinction.
Artists Featured: Elise Guillaume, Priysha Rajvanshi
Consultation and Technical Support: Julia Frendo & The Technicians Collective
Curatorial Team: Aleda Wood Roberts, Blythe Thea Williams, Genevieve Fisher, John Dougan Nealon, Kangin Park, Nathalia Oliveira, Wanlan Chen, Zihan Wen
Acknowledgements: Laura Valles Vilches, Sabel Gavaldon, Gasworks Team
Exhibition Photography and Video by Gregor Petrikovic