SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Eva Bentcheva

BA History of Art and Literature (JACOBS UNIVERSITY, GERMANY), MA History of Art and Archaeology (SOAS, University of London)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research


Eva Bentcheva
Miss Eva Bentcheva
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Thesis title:
Cultural Politics of British South Asian Performance Art, 1960-present
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Over the past two decades, British South Asian 'performance' in the form of theatre, dance, music and festivals has received a surge of scholarly and popular interest. In contrast, performance and participatory acts in the context of visual art have remained unstudied and under-documented. Focusing on the period from the early 1960s until the late 1990s, my research enhances our knowledge of this concealed, yet highly intriguing and relevant branch of British South Asian modern art.

Rather than situating British South Asian live art into existing chronologies of Euro-American performance art since the 1960s, I argue for the critical need to acknowledge the socio-historical specificities of the British South Asian art scene. This can only take place, I argue, by accounting for the close relationship of British South Asian artists to creative developments in Britain and in light of the recently-revived links to artistic practice in South Asia. In order to address these factors, I have focused my analysis around examining individual artists' goals and aspirations in taking up performance, and analysing their performances in light of wider debates on the interpretation of performance art through the scope of an ethnic or diasporic group. Should ethno-diasporic performance art be read primarily as political commentry? What other aesthetic and conceptual issues are at stake? What is the relationship between performance art and personal/artistic identity? Has the move into performance and participatory art enable access to new markets and audiences? These are among the questions which are raised in my writing.

As performance art prior to the 1990s has been largely undocumented, I have drawn evidence and examples for my thesis by conducting primary interviews with artists and consulting their private archives. In its final form, my thesis will strive to serve as a visual and textual repository of unexamined works, and a critical exposition of a previously untold 'history' of British South Asian live art.


  • 'Nora Taylor on ‘Performance as Site of Memory: Performing Art History in Singapore and Vietnam’', Tate Research Centre: Asia, 2016.
  • 'Who belongs in the New Art History? Exploring Cultural Boundaries in Sutapa Biswas’ Performance ‘Kali’ (1984)'. SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (Spring, 2014).
  • 'Tokens of a Time Gone By: Reanimating History as Art in the Work of Noel Ed De Leon', London Biennale and the Philippine Embassy of London (2014).
  • ‘Eva Bentcheva in conversation with Keith Khan’, British South Asian Theatre Memories Project (2013).
  • 'Bamako - London: A Collaborative Exhibition of Exchanges'. Africa Journal, (2012) 82 (2): 340-341.


  • 11/2016: Contact Points, Tate Modern, London, Talk: 'A Stitch in Time? Situating David Medalla's Participation-Production Performances between British and Philippine Art History, 1969-72'
  • 09/2016: Art and Intermediality in Southeast Asia, Association of Southeast Asian Studies UK, SOAS, London, Talk: ‘Philippine Intermediality?’ Multimedia Practice, Polyvocality and the Making of New Realities in Norly Lalo’s Miracle City (2002)’
  • 06/2016: Showing, Telling, Seeing: Displaying India in Britain, 1900 to the present, Paul Mellon Centre, London, Talk: 'Priceless Encounters, Costly Legacies: Motiroti’s Priceless (2007) as Contemporary Inquiry into Colonial Displays’
  • 11/2015: Present’s Disjunctive Unity, Free University, Berlin; Haus der Kulturen, Berlin, Presenter in break-out session ‘Topologies of Life in Relation to Art’
  • 10/2015: British-Philippines Conference, Asia House, London, Panelist ‘Culture and Education’
  • 05/2015: Art History Spring Research Forum, SOAS, London, Talk: ‘Cultural Politics of British South Asian Live Art (1960-2000)’
  • 11/2013: Titling the World: Histories of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art; University of Sydney, Talk: 'Escaping the Na(rra)tive in 1960s’ Britain: David Medalla’s Fusion of Asian Iconography and Performance Art'
  • 05/2013: Visual Culture in Crisis: Britain 1800 to the Present; University of York, ‘Exploring Diaspora Struggles: The Performance Artwork 'Kali' (1984) by Sutapa Biswas’


  • Tate Research Centre: Asia, Visiting Research Fellow
  • Transcultural Research Network, Free University Berlin, Haus Der Kulturen, Berlin, Research Associate
  • Royal Asiatic Society, Fellow
  • London Biennale, Curator
  • British South Asian Theatre Memories Project, Research Associate


  • Senior Teaching Fellow, Diapsora Contexts and Visual Culture, 2013-14


  • Art history
  • Performance art
  • Conceptualism
  • Contemporary Asian art