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Dr Steve Klee

Lecturer in Fine Art


Steve Klee’s work explores aesthetics, politics and philosophical realism, doing so through theory and practice.

Klee is both artist and theorist with an internationally recognised expertise in aesthetics and politics particularly in relation to the work of Jacques Rancière. His writing includes an influential REF submitted journal article for Third Text (2013), catalogue essays as well as arts journalism. Examples include commissions for artists Aernout Mik (2011) and Freee Collective (2009).

His cross-disciplinary art practice explores this terrain also; he has worked in activist art-collectives (2010-12) and more recently produced a cycle of exhibitions and events that investigate the expressive and political capacities of performing bodies. These works include Too Prolix: A Tour Out of Time (2014) and The Dance Teacher: A Gestural Index (2016) as well as a solo show at Five Years (2015), which comprised sculptural, photographic and video components.

Klee’s research has recently incorporated a cluster of ideas associated with philosophy’s renewed interest in realism and materialism, notions at the heart of exciting developments within contemporary art. Names and terms associated with this territory include: Neo-rationalism, Xenofeminism, Object Oriented Ontology and the Anthropocene.

The relationships between realism, materialism, art and politics represent ‘live’ questions currently animating international exhibitions, publications and conferences. Klee is part of this, actively involved in relevant networks, organising symposia and delivering papers at conferences and art venues. 

Two articles on these subjects are in preparation, one under peer review with Third Text and another at the final-draft stage. His art practice is also evolving; Instruction for the Rubber Hand Illusion (2016) is a new sculpture work informed by scientific theory and recently exhibited at LAM Gallery, Los Angeles.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Klee, S. (2013). Ranciere Against the Cuts: Activist Demands are Aesthetic. Third Text [Online] 27:177-188. Available at:
Book section
Klee, S. (2011). Training Ground; avoiding the trap of structural materialist film . in: Aernout Mik: Communitas. Gottingen Germany: Stedelijk Museum Steidl, pp. 149-158.
Klee, S. (2009). The Politics of Ambiguity . in: Spin[Freee]oza (Shop Windows and Balloons) . Amsterdam: SMART Project Space, pp. 17-24.
Klee, S. (2008). Where We Were When We Bashed The Fash . [Digital video].
Total publications in KAR: 4 [See all in KAR]
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Refereed articles in Academic Journals

Articles and chapters in edited books

  • Steve Klee (03/2011) ‘Training Ground: Avoiding the Trap of Structural/Materialist Film’in Aernout Mik: Communitas, Leontine Coelewij, Sabine Maria Schmidt & Tanja Milewsky (eds), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, ISBN 9783869302973
  • Steve Klee (06/2009) ‘The Politics of Ambiguity’ in Spin[Freee]oza (Shop Windows and Balloons), Freee & Hilde de Bruijn (eds), Smart Project Space, Amsterdam, ISBN 9789080665590
  • Steve Klee (12/2007) Aernout Mik, Shifting Shifting, Afterall Online
  • Steve Klee (05/2007) ‘The Interactor’ in Frozen Tears III, John Russell (ed), ARTicle Press, Birmingham, ISBN 187335259X
  • Steve Klee (03/2007)‘Between Two Star Systems’ in The Extra: Alexandra Navratil, Isobel Harbison (ed), Produzioni Nero, Rome


  • Steve Klee (08/2010) ‘The Philistine Cuckoo’,in Art Monthly, Issue 338 (July-August)

Conference contributions

  • Steve Klee (01/2016) ‘Concepts and Objects’, a session for the reading group New Materialisms,at Banner Repeater Gallery, London
  • Steve Klee (11/2016) ‘Realist Spectating: Time Present’, a paper for Invisible Architectures, Lesions on the Landscape, organised by artist Shona Illingworth, University of Kent and Professor Jill Bennett, Associate Dean of Research, College of Fine Arts, UNSW. Held at Whitechapel Gallery, London
  • Steve Klee (07/2016) ‘The Nemocentric Spectator’, a paper for Up the Junction organised by Kirsten Cooke, at ArtLacuna Gallery, London
  • Steve Klee (06/2016) ‘Science-Art: Accelerated Models of Spectating’, a paper for Radical Future and Accelerationism (keynote speakers Mark Fisher and Nick Srnicek), at Jagiellonian University, Krakow
  • Steve Klee (06/2016) ‘Respondent’ for Sticky Thick: Practice as Research Day, at Whitstable Biennale
  • Steve Klee (06/2015) ‘PaR and the Performative’, a paper for the School of Music and Fine Art Practice as Research Day, at University of Kent, Chatham
  • Steve Klee (12/2014) ‘An Inhuman Art’, a paper for Realisms and Object Orientations: The Philosophy of Tristan Garcia, at the ICA, London
  • Carrot Workers’ Collective (06/2010)Micropolitics of Art and Economy in the Art School Today’, a collective paper for Art Schools: Invention, Invective and Radical Possibilities, a conference organised by Naomi Salaman, at The Slade School of Art, London
  • Steve Klee (05/2008) ‘Aesthetic Politics’, a paper for Can Art Change the World?, organised by The Heretic Club and Castlefield Gallery. Held at Contact Theatre, Manchester
  • Steve Klee (12/2007) ‘An Imposing Reality’, a paper for Visible Evidence XIV the ambulatory international conference on documentary. Held at the University of Bochum, Germany
  • Steve Klee (02/2007) Aernout Mik, a talk on Mik’s video politics with the Goldsmiths based Political Currency of Art (PoCA) research group, Camden Arts Centre, London
  • Steve Klee (10/2006) ‘Research Questions’, as part of Rancière Conference. I presented and was first respondent to Rancière’s keynote lecture, at Goldsmiths, University of London

Symposia organised

  • Sticky Thick: Practice as Research Day an event organised by Shona Illingworth, artist Adam Chodzko and I, at Whitstable Biennale
  • Practice as Research Symposium (06/2015) I co-organised and chaired this event with Shona Illingworth, held at School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent
  • Realisms and Object Orientations: The Philosophy of Tristan Garcia (12/2014) I organised and chaired this event with contributions from University of Kent colleagues within Politics and International Relations (specifically the Centre for Critical Thought), Iain Mackenzie & Ben Turner. Garcia was keynote speaker. Held at the ICA, London.


  • Concrete Plastic (10/2016) group show, I contributed a ‘kit’ of sculptural objects. Curated by Kirsten Cooke and Ann Harezlak. Other artists were: Patrick Coyle, Annabel Frearson, Patricia Lennox-Boyd, Michael Bizon, Anne Guro Larsmon, Kim Schoen. Held at LAM Gallery, Los Angeles  
  • Babak Ghazi (07/2016)a solo exhibition by Babak Ghazi. I contributed a text that was displayed in the space. Held at Acadia Missa Gallery, London
  • ‘Perpetual Liquidity’ (05/2016) artist screening as part of Of the Sea, a selected group show. I created a new performance work as well as showing a video. Selectors were: Adam Chodzko, Hannah Conroy, Kathleen Palmer, Victoria Pomery and Nicole Mollet. Other artists were: Alia Pathan, Anaïs Tondeur, Anas Al-Shaikh, Daniel Wechsler, Etta Säfve & Elin Maria Johansson, Joanna Millett, Linda Persson, Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn, and Ting-Ting Cheng. Held at No 1 Smithery, Kent
  • Concrete Plastic (04/2016) magazine project with ARMSEYE. This was a staging - in print - of the group exhibition at LAM February 2016
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place (02/2015) solo show at Five Years Gallery, London
  • Töne Festival (06/2014) a Medway-wide event dedicated to art and audio experimentation, curated by Claudia Molitor. I contributed a site-specific performance and exhibition titled ‘Too Prolix: A Tour Out of Time’, atThe Historic Dockyard & POP Gallery, Chatham
  • The Overbearing Mother (08/2011) I contributed a video titled ‘Bash the Fash...’, with Dylan Shipton and Ben Fitton, at LIDO Gallery, Hastings.
  • Fight Education Cuts (11/2010) an event by the Carrot Workers’ Collective involving seminars and workshops aiming to produce counter-propaganda, at the Centre for Possible Studies (a Serpentine Gallery off-site initiative), Edgware Road
  • ‘Creative Jobs Survival Fair’ (05/2009) event by the Carrot Workers’ Collective for the At Your Service exhibition, at the David Roberts Art Foundation, London         
  • Contested Ground (01/2009) group show, I contributed a video. Other artists were: Ben Fitton and James Porter. Held at 176 Gallery, London
  • History on Film: Unreliable Witness Artists’ Film and Video (11/ 2008) a group screening curated by Maxa Zoller. Other artists were: The Otolith Group, Al Fadhil, Ramona Köppel-Welsh, Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard. Held at Tramway gallery, Glasgow
  • Structures Found Structures Lost (11/2008) a group show, I contributed a video. Curated by Francis Summers. Other artists were: Paul B Davis and Abbe Leigh Fletcher. Held at Five Years Gallery, London
  • In a Manner of Speaking (07/ 2008) film & video curated by Lois Rowe, at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow
  • UJ KOR TARS (New Contemporary) (03/2008) a group show, I contributed a video. Curated by Beata Veszely, at Lena & Roselli gallery, Budapest.
  • The Unfalsified Truth of Things (11/2007) two person video show with James Porter, at Gallery, London
  • Pollutant (4/2007) solo video show, at Negative Gallery, London
  • Itchy Park (04/2007) a night of performance and video, I contributed a video. Curated by Emily Wardill, at Limehouse Town Hall, London
  • We Have Lost the Hearts and Minds (12/2006) group show, I contributed a video. Curated by Reza Aramesh. Other artists were: Alex Zika, Anthony Gross, Cristina Mariani, Cyril Lepetit, Dan Griffiths, George Kontos, Gian Paolo Cottino, Gordon Cheung, Goshka Macuga, Henry Coleman, Jen Wu, Lewis Amar, Redux Project, Reza Aramesh, Temporary Contemporary, the hut project, Theo Michael, Theo Prodromidis, William Hunt. Held at E:vent gallery, London.
  • Centrefold 5 (10/2006)a ‘scrapbook’ of artists’ work. I contributed a diagram. Curated by Reza Aramesh. Other artists: Martin Westwood, Dan Griffiths, Theo Michael, Anthony Gross, Will Hunt, Gordon Chung, Fay Nicolson, Redux Project Space, Jen Wu, Alex Zika, Axel Stockburger, Cyril Lepetit, Henry Coleman, Cyril Lepetit
  • Et Tu Tribute (04/ 2006) an evening of performance and film, I contributed a video. Held at Embassy, Edinburgh
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Steve has eight years’ teaching experience in Fine Art across Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses delivering both contextual studies content and working with students in the studio. He is a true art-generalist able to teach all media with a synthesising specialism in the relation between theory and practice, one that enables him to forge critical, capable and confident contemporary practitioners.

Currently, he leads Stage Two of University of Kent’s UG Fine Art course and contributes to MA Fine Art modules, also chairing the yearly MA/PhD student presentations.

The Stage Two lead involves convening three modules and organising all Pathway Workshops for this year group, Lens-based, Painting and 3D; he delivers the 3D sessions. In these Workshops material processes and techniques are placed centre-stage, for instance one session looks at direct carving. Such practices are shown to be theoretically informed, but also to provide a way of ‘testing’ and ‘reformatting’ conceptual thought through making.

Another module, Review & Response teaches the subject of art writing. The student produces an artists’ book containing a series of short creative texts. Again, emphasis is placed on the relationship between writing/theorising and creative practice. This module has proven particularly successful in opening students’ eyes to the possibility of text and fiction as components within visual art practice.

The content of Klee’s teaching is research led. Recent delivery has expanded upon his expertise in aesthetics and art-politics to include realist and materialist themes. In recognition of his dynamic new direction he was invited by the School of English to deliver a session on their MA in the Contemporary course, run in collaboration with the ICA (2016).

I work with both undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts and teach in the studio, lecture theatre and seminar room to deliver practical and conceptual content across all media, including: painting, sculpture/installation, digital photography and video. I also offer specialist support for Stage 1 and 2 students via conceptually led 3D workshops. Another area of expertise is curation, the theory and practice of organising exhibitions. In addition I lead a Stage 2 module on the relationship between visual art and text which teaches creative and critical writing strategies.


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Steve supervises five Practice as Research (PaR) PhD students.

Primary Supervisor

  • Steve Connolly, Spatial Cinema: Lefebvre, Spatial-production and Machine Space

This project investigates the space of Detroit through an artists’ video, and includes a thesis that develops a Lefebvrian theory of filmic representation.

  • Mike Lawton, An Irreductionist Practice: Painting & Writing after O,O,O

This project investigates painting, writing and their interrelation through the lens of Graham Harman’s Object Oriented Ontology.

  • Adam James, Larp and Socially Engaged Art

This project looks at ‘live action role play’ in relation to the discourse of socially engaged art

Second supervisor

  • Luciano Zubillaga, Film as Philosophy
  • Moyra Derby, Painting as Tableaux

As is evident Klee’s extensive knowledge of contemporary art and philosophy enables him to supervise a wide range of PhD candidates.

He particularly welcomes projects, especially PaR ones, which explore new realist theory as it pertains to contemporary art. Mike Lawton’s research covers this territory and Klee hopes to build a ‘portfolio’ of supervision in this area. 

He has also examined PhD projects, being the internal assessor on: Martin Lang, Militant Art, Department of History and Philosophy of Art, examined June/July 2015. And, he is currently part of a team evaluating: Luis R Antunes, The Multisensory Film Experience: A cognitive Model of Experiential Film Aesthetics. This project is conducted across the University of Kent’s Department of Film Studies and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Arts and Media Studies. October/ongoing 2016.


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Last Updated: 15/03/2017