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Deniz Sözen

Deniz Sözen (she/her) is a visual artist and researcher of mixed Turkish-Austrian heritage and a lecturer in History of Art at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her multi-disciplinary artistic practice explores themes of culture and language questioning the notion of identity and belonging through opacity and multilingualism. As researcher and academic, she specializes in contemporary art and decolonial theories in the context of globalisation and diasporic art.

In 2022 she was awarded an Arts Council England grant to curate the multilingual digital archival exhibition Maker Unknown exploring gaps and blind spots in the history, categorisation and provenance of non-European artefacts in the Camberwell ILEA collection.

Her practice-based PhD (The Art of Un-belonging) in Visual Arts and Media at the University of Westminster, London was supported by the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) Doctoral Research Scholarship (2014-2017). The Art of Un-belonging was selected for the Stuart Hall Library Research Network: Global Re-Visions Public programme in 2020 (in conversation with Prof. Sarat Maharaj). The video installation Surya Namaz was nominated for the Best Practice Awards by the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (2019) was recently showcased as part of Soundscapes of Intersectional Encounters  (2024) at the Exhibit gallery in Vienna (curated by Ruby Sircar and Zehra Baraçkılıç).

Through the University of Birmingham CAL incubator grant, Deniz is currently in organising a series of creative workshops in response to Stuart Hall’s work as the PI of the Representation and Identity strand of the College of Arts and Law’s Rethinking the Fateful Triangle in an Age of Democratic Decay: Race, Ethnicity, Nation incubator (2024). She is currently also working on developing a new audio-visual project in response to the Stuart Hall archive.

In 2023, she was invited to contribute to the public art initiative Mothering Communities,

curated by Barbara Mahlknecht, Center Research Fokus, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria, culminating in a new project on multilingual lullabies and a new collaboration with Vienna-based sound artist Michael Hammerstiel. 

In June (2024) she will be presenting her work at the upcoming Talking Back interdisciplinary conference as part of the Transform festival at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, exploring critical and creative approaches to decolonial activism, reclamations of culture and identity, and the transformative power of voice.

Awards and residencies

During 2019 Deniz was commissioned as lead artist for the Moon Museum at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham. In 2016 she was recipient (2016) of the Artist in Residence West Balkan Calling, Public ROOM Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, organised by <rotor> Ccenter for Contemporary Art, Graz and funded by the European Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her work was awarded the Marianne.von.Willemer. Prize for Digital Media, including a public awards ceremony and performance at the Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria (2014). For 2013-2014 she was recipient of the Artist Residency MAK Schindler Scholarship Los Angeles through the MAK Center Artists and Architects-in-Residence Program and an Artist Residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris also in 2014.


Forthcoming publications include contributions to the Routledge Companion to African Diaspora Art History (ed. Eddie Chambers), and the Third Text Special Journal Issue ‘Polyphony: method, voice, archive’. Her article ‘Maker Unknown - decolonial methodologies for digital archival practice’ (co-authored with Vayu Naidu) will be published as part of The Unsaid: Strategies for decolonizing knowledge through artistic knowledge practices, edited by Amalia Barboza and Mariel Rodriguez, Heidelberg:  

Recent artist talks include: ‘Islamic aesthetics in contemporary art’ at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2024); ‘Artist Panel Discussion: Race, Representation and Women’, Midlands Art Centre (MAC) Birmingham (2022); ‘South Asian Queerness & Gender Politics’. Moderator of artist panel, SHOUT Festival, Midlands Art Centre (MAC) Birmingham (2021); ‘The Art of Un-Belonging’ as part of the Stuart Hall Library Research Network: Global Re-Visions Public programme (2020).

Professional activities 

Deniz served as a mentor for emerging artists and graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (2022-23) as part of the Academy of Fine Arts mentorship programme. She is a member of the Austrian Association of Women Artists (VBKOE) and regularly contribute to their programming. She is also an active member of Eastside Projects (Birmingham) and the Association for Art History (UK)

Deniz Soezen photo Shane Shambhu.jpg
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