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Michiko Oki portrait

Dr. Michiko Oki (b. Japan)

Michiko Oki, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Art, is a London-based researcher and writer in art history (avant-garde and modernism studies), critical theory and cultural anthropology. Her research explores the representation of violence and power in the form of allegory and fiction in modern/contemporary art, culture and literature. Her interdisciplinary writings, drawn from art history/theory, critical theory, philosophy, intuition and emotion, approach the question: What is the nature of aesthetic experience in perceiving the darker side of reality and its constructive effect on the human psyche and society? How can we conceive the world differently through 'endarkening' imagination and artistic/philosophical thinking?

Her recent research explores the non-Westernised narratives behind the reception of avant-garde spirits in non-European countries, exemplified by the case of Japan. In particular, it investigates the peculiar historical event, 'ee ja nai ka' (the carnivalesque popular riots that swept the country in 1867-1868), and its relationship to the counter-cultural movement of the 1920s and 30s 'ero guro nansensu' (erotic, grotesque, nonsense).

She is currently launching a new interdisciplinary and transcultural research project, exploring the polytheistic perception of the world that remains underneath contemporary culture and religion, and its hedonistic manifestation as a form of resistance, with a particular focus on Japan, Spain, and the UK.




「素晴らしき悪夢を解き放つ:『ええじゃないか』(1867-68)ー近代日本アヴァンギャルドの幕開け」(書籍『Globalising the Avant-Garde』西欧前衛芸術・モダニズム研究シリーズ8、デ・グリュイテル出版、2024年に収録予定)




Japanese (native)

English (professional)

Spanish (basic)

Research Interests

Keywords: modern and contemporary art history/theory, aesthetics, Surrealism, Modernism/Avant-Garde studies, René Magritte, Franz Kafka, the violence of the norm, thresholds, noise music, posthumanism, allegory, body (nudity, hunchback, distortion), ee ja nai ka, ero guro nansensu (erotic, grotesque, nonsense), critical theory (T. L. Adorno, G. Agamben, W. Benjamin, J. Butler,  M. Foucault)


PGcert: Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication, University of the Arts, London, January 2024.

Ph.D (Comparative Literature and Art), School of European Languages, Culture & Society, University College London, UK, July 2014

MA (Art History), Human and Environmental Studies in Thought and Culture, Kyoto University, Japan, March 2005


Japanese Government Program of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artists (Field of Grant: Art Theory), 2009-2011

Teaching & Research Position

Senior Lecturer, BA Performance: Design and Practice, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London 2022- (Associate Lecturer, 2020-2022)

Distinguished Assistant Professor, MA Global Art Practice, Tokyo University of the Arts, 2019-2022

Research Associate, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, 2016-2018

Course Tutor (‘19th and 20th Century Art in London’), BA History of Art, University College London, 2009-2011

Research Assistant, Art Studies and Cultural Production, Kyoto University of Art and Design, 2005-2007

Affiliated Academic Societies

The Association for Studies of Culture and Representation, Japan

The Japanese Society for Aesthetics

The European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies

International Society for the Study of Surrealism

Text © 2015 Michiko Oki
Illustration © 2015 Pablo Padilla Jargstorf

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