Amaia Salazar: Unmasking the Mind

Dreams, hallucinations, and other realities

Dr Amaia Salazar (Spain, 1992) uses a critical and analytical approach to investigate how different symbolic and emotional experiences deepen the study of human cognition.

Interested in studying behavioural concepts from an anthropological, historical, and sociological perspective, her artistic point of view allows us to pinpoint the origins of our thoughts – from the moment they are perceived from our senses to the way our mind interprets and transforms them into behaviours, beliefs, and feelings.

Dreams, nightmares, illusions, and hallucinations are all part of our collective imagination, which are affected by cultural and social biases in our attempt of explaining them. Concepts such as the magical, the mystical, the mysterious all have a scientific and historical basis that Amaia tries to deconstruct/reconstruct through art. By doing so, her objective is to create a new visual panorama, which will enable us to delve into the understanding of common but little-known phenomena and give them visibility through art.

Amaia’s artworks are always based on artistic practice and research that are depicted and expressed through medium of photography. In recent years, she has also relied on different media types such as installations, videos, or state-of-the-art experimental techniques that allow us to directly experience the analysed perceptions.

About the artist

Dr Amaia Salazar is a Margarita Salas Postdoctoral Researcher at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities of the Government of Spain co-funded with European Union funds (NextGenerationEU). Currently, she is an Academic Visitor at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College.

Her current research project in Oxford focuses on the study of abstract concepts related to emotion and affectivity, as defined by the social psychologist N. H. Anderson (1968), who focused on the representation of images and their linguistic configuration. The interpretation of abstract concepts in art history is challenging, due to the difficulty of transmitting a concept in a manner that makes it universally understood. To this end, she is creating one of the first cognitive-emotional atlases of images in Western art history, focusing on the Oxford Art Collections from the 18th century to the present, tracing the different abstract concepts and categorising the patterns and archetypes of representation. This study will greatly advance our understanding and interpretation of emotions in visual arts. The results obtained will be used as a tool to enhance and stimulate the cognitive bases during the abstract-logical thinking process, proposing new methodological applications in art education.

During her time in Oxford, she has collaborated with Modern Art Oxford (MOA) giving the workshop “Conscious listening at the frontiers of the (in)visible”(2023), she has been awarded the first Wolfson Art Prize (2023) at Wolfson College, and organised several events bringing together Art and Science departments at Christ Church College and Wolfson College, respectively.

Exhibition Opening

Fri 12 January 2024 6-8pm
Please join us to welcome in this new exhibition.
Free event / no booking required

Artist Talk

Thurs 11 January 11am – 12pm
Please join Amaia Salazar for a talk about the exhibition and a tour of the works.
Free event / no booking required

In Conversation: Amaia Salazar and Tom Brennan

Fri 19 January 11am – 12pm
Please join Amaia Salazar and Tom Brennan for a discussion about the exhibition.

Tom Brennan is a director, playwright, filmmaker and actor. He is also a Creative Associate of The North Wall and The Geoffrey Garton Creative Fellow at Wolfson College. His multi-award winning theatre company, The Wardrobe Ensemble, is an associate company of Complicite, Bristol Old Vic and Shoreditch Town Hall. His work with the company has been performed at The National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Trafalgar Studios and Soho Theatre among many other venues across the UK and USA.
Free event / no booking required

Read More

Amaia Salazar in OX Magazine
Amaia Salazar in QUAD Magazine


Amaia Salazar: Unmasking the Mind


Free entry

Extra information

Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 10am – 4pm, Sat: 12pm – 4pm
Closed: Sun and Bank Holidays

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