Mike Cooter is an artist, writer, lecturer, and educator based in London. His work investigates the structural agency of objects, be they sculpture, cinematic props or other anthropological artefacts – objects co-opted or created to drive narratives, fictional or otherwise. He holds a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London for his thesis on ‘MacGuffins’ – a type of narratively-structured and socially-organising artefact rendered in film and literary works. Through his doctoral thesis, MacGuffins emerge as ontologically curious entities that appear to exist in co-dependent relationships with the social configurations they compose. His current research interests include the history of exhibitions and display; ontology and new theories of objects and materiality; the presentation of anthropological and socially fabricated artefacts in contemporary art and museum collections – including questions of instrumentalisation, interpretation and repatriation; the sociology of science and theories of invention; animation, experimental and industrial film and new media; and post-modernity in art, architecture, literature and design.


His writing has been published by Art Agenda, Mousse, The Exhibitionist and Princeton University Press (2022) amongst others. Since 2016 he has taught Critical Studies at Goldsmiths (London), Contextual Studies on the MA in Experimental Film at Kingston University, is Lead Consultant on the MA Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute (London) and lectures internationally, most recently at Princeton University (USA), the Academy of Media Arts (Cologne) and Ashkal Alwan (Lebanon). As a production manager, technician and fabricator he has been involved in the preparation of over 150 exhibitions in commercial galleries and public institutions. Recent exhibitions of his artistic practice have taken place at Kupfer (London), the New Walk Museum, Leicester (UK), Swiss Institute (New York), Stroom Den Haag (The Hague), 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts (Ljubljana), Boghossian Foundation / Villa Empain (Brussels), Tenderpixel (London), Witte de With (Rotterdam), CIAJG (Guimarães) and Arquipélago (Azores).


office (at)



  • 2012–17
    PhD (Practice-based Fine Art, AHRC-funded), Goldsmiths College, London. Thesis title: 'MacGuffin'
  • 2001–03
    MA (Sculpture), Royal College of Art, London
  • 1997–2000
    BFA (Hons) Fine Art (First Class) Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford

Selected Exhibitions

  • 2022
    Whilst Out Walking, Kupfer, London
  • 2019
    Sonic Geometry (II), CIAJG, Guimarães
  • 2018
    The Model, the Mimic and the Dupe, New Walk Museum and Gallery, Leicester
  • Index, residency and Sonic Geometry, Arquipélago, Centro de Artes Contemporâneas, São Miguel, Açores
  • 2017
    Portrait (for a Screenplay) of Beth Harmon, Tenderpixel, London
  • Encontros para além da História, CIAJG, Guimarães
  • 2016
    FADE IN: INT. ART GALLERY - DAY, Swiss Institute, New York
  • Répétition, Boghossian Foundation - Villa Empain, Brussels (catalogue)
  • Another Reality: After Lina Bo Bardi, Stroom Den Haag
  • Objects Make Me, performance event, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
  • 2015
    Over you / you, Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (catalogue)
  • Art in restaurants is on the same level as food in museums – Niles Crane, Turf Projects, Croydon
  • A Studio in Hand Reading, Kunstverein, Amsterdam
  • MUD ∞, Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh
  • Residency, Beta-Local, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • 2014
    The Crime Was Almost Perfect, Witte de With, Rotterdam (catalogue)
  • Mussel Mind (Loaded Die), Askeaton Contemporary Arts Residency, Ireland
  • Detours - after détournement, Enclave, London
  • Pistachio Sunset, Arcade Fine Arts, London
  • 2013
    Set Theory, GP & N Vallois, Paris
  • The Year of the Flood, Flood, Dublin
  • In form express and admirable (in a sense lying, in a sense not), curatorial project: exhibition, screening, publication, Camberwell Space/Camberwell College of Art, London (publication)
  • Form and Feeling, symposium, curatorial and presentation, Camberwell College of Art, London
  • 2012
    The Stone of Folly, DownStairs, Hertfordshire
  • UK Visual Arts Residency, Cove Park, Scotland
  • Accidentally on Purpose, new work for web project/exhibition, QUAD, Derby
  • 2011
    A Darkness More Than Night, QUAD, Derby
  • A Slowdown at the Museum, Extra City (Kunsthal Antwerpen), Antwerp
  • Gingko Goethe Garden, Arcade Fine Arts, London
  • The Big Society (curator: Alice Motard), Galerie GP & N Vallois, Paris
  • Signy & Olaf Willums Art Foundation Residency, Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Maybe I Should Have Called It ‘My Life In 19 Minutes’, Calder Foundation, New York
  • Lapidarium, ZINGERpresents, Amsterdam
  • 2010
    The Snail, Serpentine Gallery commission, London
  • Shadow Effect, The Company, Los Angeles
  • The Island Studio Dispatches, IPS, Birmingham
  • Leading Men, Leading Men, ZINGERpresents, Amsterdam
  • A Stranger’s Window, Moot / Nottingham Castle and Gallery
  • 2009
    Hyperborean Manners Rob Tufnell, London
  • 0.0814440536499023 °WL…, ZINGERpresents (London), London
  • 2008
    Production Still, with the Hex, Moot, Nottingham
  • Zoo Art Fair (with ZINGERpresents), London
  • Exchange, The Arts Gallery, University of the Arts, London
  • Original Intent (London), Nought to Sixty, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (catalogue)
  • Märzbau, Poliflur, Berlin
  • 2007
    I can’t live without…, The Showroom, London
  • NADA (with ZINGERpresents, NL), Miami
  • Original Intent, ZINGERpresents, Amsterdam
  • Art Amsterdam, Amsterdam
  • Those quaint moments of distress, Montana Berlin, Berlin
  • The Nature of Things, Art Rotterdam, Rotterdam
  • 2006
    Questioning Strangers, Frisbee, Miami Beach / Los Angeles
  • Hoe Premiere, Netherlands Fotomuseum / Gil & Moti, Rotterdam
  • Eek, Redruth, Cornwall
  • Schnipp Schnapp Initiative, Brix, Berlin
  • Everything Must Go, VTO, London
  • Art Rotterdam, Rotterdam
  • 2005
    Schnipp Schnapp, Kunst Klub, Berlin
  • Victim, 1000000mph, London
  • If You’re Feeling Sinister, Alona Kagan, New York
  • Jonathan Callan and Mike Cooter, ZINGERpresents, Tilburg
  • Siege, Sidney Street, London
  • Film Stuben, Tirola Alpenstadl, Berlin
  • 2004
    intermission, 27 Spital Square, London
  • Reduced, Century Gallery, London
  • 2003
    Frieze Art Fair 2003, Regents Park, London
  • British Deaf Film Festival 2003, Wolverhampton
  • Cold Stew, VTO, London
  • Portobello Film Festival, 2003, London
  • Bootleg, Spitalfields Market, London
  • The Show One, Royal College of Art, London
  • Minutes Before It’s Too Late…, Hockney Gallery, London
  • 2002
    Hold Your Horses, RCA Sculpture School, London
  • 2000/01
    New Contemporaries 2000, Milton Keynes, Manchester and Edinburgh
  • The Occupier, Pump House Gallery, London, and The Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • BFA Show, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford
  • Bildung, Chessels Gallery, Edinburgh
  • Racing Post, Ruskin School and Fine Art, Oxford
  • 1999
    Eating at the Sunshine Café, Dolphin Gallery, Oxford
  • 1998
    Chapel, Dolphin Gallery, Oxford

Teaching and Public Talks

  • Goldsmiths (BFA / MFA / PhD), Kingston University (MA Experimental Film), Sotheby’s Institute (MA Contemporary Art, London), Academy of Media Arts (Cologne), Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (Oxford), Ashkal Alwan (Beirut, Lebanon), Princeton University (USA), Royal College of Art, Chelsea College, Camberwell College and the Slade (London), Anglia Ruskin (Cambridge), University of Worcester, KABK / Royal Academy of Art (The Hague), Bournemouth University of Arts, University of Kent, and Wimbledon School of Art. Selected public programmes: Swiss Institute (NY), Camden Arts Centre (London), Serpentine Gallery (London), Eastside Projects (Birmingham), Stroom Den Haag (Netherlands), Wysing Arts Centre, HKW (Berlin), 31st and 32nd Graphic Arts Biennial (artist / prize committee, Ljubljana, Slovenia), and the Science Museum (London) a.o.