Brianne Cohen
Assistant Professor, Contemporary Art • Associate Chair for Art History
Art History

Brianne Cohen’s research and teaching focuses on contemporary art and visual culture in the public sphere. From participatory art to lens-based activism, she explores artistic practices concerned with ecology and the environment, decolonization, political violence, and global migration. Her book Don’t Look Away: Art, Nonviolence, and Preventive Publics in Contemporary Europe (Duke University Press, 2023) examines contemporary art that grapples with cross-cultural affiliation and the active imagining of nonviolence in 21st-century Europe.

Her new research addresses questions of ecological devastation and the formation of critical publics in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore. This research has been supported by an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship (2022-2023) and Center for Humanities & the Arts Faculty Fellowship (2023).

Relatedly, she was co-PI for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, “Deep Horizons: Making Visible an Unseen Spectrum of Ecological Casualties & Prospects” (2020-22), which brought together diverse, interdisciplinary researchers and makers for conversations about environmental futures, as they relate to art and visual culture, ecology, indigeneity, and climate justice. Arising out of this seminar, she co-edited an open-access volume, Deep Horizons: A Multisensory Archive of Ecological Affects and Prospects (Amherst College Press, 2023). She also co-edited The Photofilmic: Entangled Images in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture (Leuven University Press and Cornell University Press, 2016).

Currently, she serves as field editor for contemporary art for She has published in journals such as Representations, Art Journal, Afterimage, Journal of European Studies, Third Text, and Image [&] Narrative.

She enjoys working with M.A. and Ph.D. students who engage with a diversity of topics in contemporary art and visual culture, particularly art activism and ecology.

Courses Taught:

  • Contemporary Art & the Politics of Care (graduate seminar)
  • Art, Ecology, and Climate Justice (graduate seminar)
  • Art in the Public Sphere (graduate seminar)
  • Theories of Art History/Research and Methodologies (graduate seminar, cross-enrolled with Critical Media Practices)
  • Contemporary Art
  • Global Contemporary Art Since 1989
  • Contemporary Art and Ecology
  • Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia
  • Photography and Political Violence (capstone seminar)
  • Eco-Video in Southeast Asia
  • Art, Public, Site: Imagining Place and Making Worlds (first-year seminar co-taught with Yumi Roth)