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Francis Bacon, Portrait of George Dyer Talking, oil on canvas, 200 x 150 cm, 1966.






My research focuses on the theoretical meaning and the creative possibilities of the element

of contingency that appears in curatorial projects and budgets. It considers two notions of contingency by linking the administrative aspects of this term together with its complex philosophical meaning.


Contingency is used in institutions and cultural organisations as a strategy to avoid unforeseen and unplanned scenarios. It appears in Excel spread-sheets, risk assessments, contracts, and agreements.

It responds to rules and regulations, and it maintains order and control while protecting the values

that sustain them.


Beyond its bureaucratical usage, it is a complex theoretical concept widely explored throughout the history of Western philosophy. It derives from Aristotle’s debate about future contingents and has been explored in Giorgio Agamben’s studies of potentiality. It relates to language, time, and the occurrence or non-occurrence of events. It is located at the threshold between being and non-being and has triggered further discussions about human destiny and free will.


It also endures as a form of artistic, curatorial and critical research. It has been explored through probability, intuition, randomness, chance, failure, risk, resistance, non-production and support structures. However, by coming across with unforeseen and unplanned encounters with ideas about potentiality, anachronism and flirtation, I selected these approaches as my modes of research.

These are applied to critical theory together with the development of activities and curatorial projects linked to the research question.


This thesis extracts contingency from the organisational scheme of budget templates and curatorial projects, digs into its conceptual significance, and tests its critical and creative possibilities.




Paula Lopez Zambrano

PhD candidate Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths, University of London



Supervisor: Dr. Jean Paul Martinon