Dr Ros Holmes

History of Art
Junior Research Fellow


BA (SOAS), M. St (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

Academic Background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Chinese and History of Art/Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. I then worked for several years in Beijing as the programme manager of a contemporary art space and as the assistant curator for education at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA). I came to Oxford in 2009 and completed my Master’s degree in the History of Art department before commencing a DPhil in 2010 under the supervision of Prof. Craig Clunas.

Undergraduate Teaching

Modern and contemporary art in China, online visual culture, methodologies of art history.

Research Interests

I am interested in the interaction between high and low, popular and elite forms of cultural production in China. I am currently completing my first book, provisionally entitled ‘The Art of Incivility: Rudeness and Representation in Post-Socialist China’. The book offers a visually rich investigation of the ways in which artists have deployed incivility as a means to lay competitive claim to disciplinary narratives about China’s cultural history. From the rude, to the shocking, to the subtly profane, it establishes how contested visualizations of civility challenge long term assumptions about China’s cultural landscape from the reform period to the present.

My current research project builds on one aspect of this study, exploring China’s online culture and the defining role that image making is coming to assume within this sphere. Entitled ‘The Mediated Image’ the project examines how artists are increasingly using digital media to disseminate their work to new audiences. Revealing the existence of a creative, humorous, but also socially and politically critical ‘China online,’ which frequently locates itself outside of the intellectual discourse surrounding state censorship and contemporary art, the project explores aspects of visual culture at the forefront of modern and contemporary encounters between China and the wider world. 

Publications include:


‘Is that Leg Loaded?: Ai Weiwei, Instagram and the Politics of Networked Images’, Daria Berg and Giorgio Strafella (eds.), The Art ofTransculturality: New Frontiers in China’s Avant-garde (forthcoming)

‘Meanwhile in China...Miao Ying and the rise of “Chinternet Ugly”’, ARTMargins, Vol. 7, No. 1, (Feb 2018), pp. 31-57. DOI

Review of ‘The Modernization of Chinese Art: The Shanghai Art College 1913-1937’, by Jane Zheng, The China Quarterly, Vol. 232, (Dec 2017), pp. 1143-1144. DOI

‘The Uses of the Future: Contemporary Art in the Digital Domain’, in 30 Years of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (Manchester: Cornerhouse, 2016), pp. 190-201

‘Pillars of Fat: The Corporeal Aesthetics of wenming in Contemporary Chinese Art’, The China Journal, No. 72, (July 2014), pp. 121-138. DOI

Review of ‘Pop Goes the Avant-Garde: Experimental Theatre in Contemporary China’, by Rossella Ferrari, The China Journal, No. 72, (July 2014), pp. 221-223. DOI

‘Translating Wax: An interview with Zheng Guogu and the Yangjiang Group’, Oxford Art Journal, Volume 36, No.1, (March 2013), pp. 127-137. DOI

‘Animated Realities: The Art of Qiu Anxiong’, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Volume 7, No.1, (January, 2008), pp. 96-99.

‘Cityscapes, Crazy Consumption and Collective Memory: Chen Shaoxiong’s Mimetic Reality’, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Vol. 6, No. 1, (March, 2007), pp. 128-131.


Tate Modern - Gender in Chinese Contemporary Art

The Royal Academy - The 'Readymade' and Destruction in Art 

University of Oxford Podcasts - The Selden Map of China 


Long walks, playing the banjo badly, good whisky.