A series of explorations on exhibition-making and exhibition histories.


…and Exhibitions.

Since 2019, I have been developing research on the relationship between the laboratory and exhibitions. Here are the outcomes of this investigation:


PhD in Arts, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton (UK).

Advisors: Prof. Jussi Parikka & Prof. Ryan Bishop.

Research Group: Archaeologies of Media and Technology (AMT)

Thesis Abstract

By recognizing the importance of the “museum as a laboratory” motto for the early twentieth century museum, the present thesis expands the existing documentation with an investigation of the exhibition space as a laboratory within Museum and Curatorial Studies. For this purpose, the thesis centres on two defining moments of the field, that is: on the late 1960s and 1970s, when an anti-white cube critique, aligned with an expanding experimental and participatory artistic practice, prompted debates on the need to re-frame the modern museum and their practices; and on the late 1990s, when a turn towards education in curating and a concern with new digital and networked practices sparked a discussion on the limitations of the exhibition space and its functions. Within these contexts, we see a restatement of laboratory traits within the exhibition space in two particular exhibitions: the 1972 Jovem Arte Contemporânea (JAC) in a Brazil ruled by a dictatorship yet very much in tune with the international debates on the challenges of contemporary practices to exhibition-making and on the restructuring of the modern museum; and the 1999 Laboratorium exhibition in Belgium with their questioning of the forms and functions of the exhibition space as a space of (experimental) production. Matters of space and spatiality, therefore, take on a central role in this investigation. They further situate the notions of both laboratory and exhibition by perceiving them first and foremost as spaces and, most importantly, introduce a very under-represented matter in exhibition histories and its documentation, that is, in contrast to a curator-centred perspectives of past practices. The thesis, moreover, draws from idea of the “laboratory” as an operative term (Wershler et al, 2021) and argues that the search for an analogous relationship with it (the “as a lab” analogy) stands for a wish to transform the exhibition space from its container/content relationship into something that it is not, yet seeks to become. The analysis of the case studies, therefore, aims to identify these possible traits the exhibition space has gained and how it has been transformed through this analogous relationship with the lab. Through this analysis, the thesis offers a refreshed, spatially-oriented perspective on the limitations and transformative potentials of the exhibition space and, by doing so, the thesis brings to the surface a much needed discussion on its roles and formats at a time when matters of space and spatiality are becoming ever more pertinent to Museum and Curatorial Studies.




‘Exhibiting’, in A Glossary of Lab Techniques—Extending The Lab Book.

Editors: Darren Wershler, Lori Emerson & Jussi Parikka


In the last two decades, we have seen a surge of artistic labs dedicated to the making of exhibitions, or exhibiting. Yet, exhibiting has always been a somewhat complex term in the field.

A Glossary of Lab Techniques—Extending The Lab Book

What techniques help to constitute the hybrid lab? What techniques perform and produce the lab’s real and imaginary, active and collective forms of doing, knowing, making, and unmaking?

The final chapter of The Lab Book provides an initial but incomplete catalog of nine techniques: 3D printing, collaborating, collecting, dis/assembling, experimenting, failing, living labs, prototyping, and testing. But what other terms would help to reflect the diverse practices of laboratories around the globe? In order to grow the catalog and help lab communities across the disciplines to reflect their own conditions of knowledge production, we want to to extend the existing glossary.’

Continent., Issue 7.1, 2018: 1 (Journal Article).

Editors: Bernhard Garnicnig & Maximilian Thoman.


When Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was officially founded in the late 1960s, a movement towards more collaborative approaches between artists and computer scientists and engineers was already in motion. This movement was in part encouraged by the growing accessibility to recent technological developments by those outside of the traditional academic, military and industrial sectors. Although more accessible, those technologies (mainly in the realm of kinetics and telematics) were still quite foreign to many practitioners in the arts, and thus those emerging artistic practices were inherently collaborative in nature. The E.A.T., founded by engineer Billy Klüver, together with Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Whitman and Fred Waldhauer, was then set from the beginning to be a catalysis for “[…] the physical, economic, and social conditions necessary for the inevitable cooperation between artists, engineers and scientists, and members of industry and labor” (E.A.T., 1969a). They, therefore, sought to pave the way to a foreseen future scenario where artistic and scientific practices collide.

Talks and Lectures

‘Seminário de Cultura Material da Ciência #26’ (online seminar).

Hosted by Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência (MUHNAC) of the Lisbon University

Video + Description

The motto of “museum as a laboratory” has been recurrently invoked within the museological context and in particular in exhibition-making, and its legacy can be traced since the beginning of the 20th century through figures such as Richard F. Bach of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the historian and critic Siegfried Giedion. This analogy has been expanded more prominently to the exhibition space by attributing characteristics traditionally associated with science laboratories to making of exhibitions. In this seminar, Lia Carreira presents, through two historical examples, this complex relationship between the laboratory and the art exhibition space, highlighting its importance and function in the museological and exhibition-making field.

With: Lia Carreira | Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton (UK)

Moderation: Marta Lourenço | National Museum of Natural History and Science of the University of Lisbon

‘The Exhibition as Interior’ online conference.

Hosted by The Modern Interiors Research Centre, Kingston University London.


The laboratory has been recurrently invoked within the Arts since the early twentieth century with figures such as Richard F. Bach in 1922 weaving the ties between art and industrial making under the rubric of the museum as a laboratory to convey the idea of a space for collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and Siegfried Giedion in 1929 calling for an “experimental laboratory” in every public institution as a department which would allow for the art of the present to be heard. This early laboratorisation of the museum has, since then, been extended to the particular space of the exhibition, in which the laboratory has taken many shapes and forms. This paper presents a relatively more recent approach to the exhibition as a lab motto through an analysis of the 1999 Laboratorium exhibition in Antwerp, Belgium. Laboratorium, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Barbara Vanderlinden, aimed at exploring the idea of the laboratory, in all its diversity, as a “workplace” by inviting practitioners from different fields to establish a form of “place where people exchange ideas around an experimental set-up”.

The Exhibition Space as a Laboratory:

Experiments in curating Art and Technology

(October 20, 2020)

‘Prognostics’ (online) Lecture, Saastamoinen Foundation, Helsinki

Moderated by Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, Professor of Exhibition Studies and Spatiality (UniArts Helsinki)


‘Lia’s PhD project The exhibition space as a laboratory proposes to revisit past initiatives and document current strategies as to insert them within the historicization of curatorial practices, and to expand existing investigations in Curatorial Studies by taking into account the roles of and the relationships between the exhibition space, the laboratory and the experimental within those practices’.

‘Prognostics lectures map new areas of art, which challenge established forms of art, exhibition methods, and shake up societal norms and political thinking. Prognostics lecture series in partnership with Saastamoinen Foundation’.