Deniz specializes in contemporary art and decolonial theories in the context of globalisation and diasporic art. Forthcoming publications include ‘Un-doing Belonging: Mobilising African Diaspora Art in the Art History Classroom’ as part of the Routledge Companion to African Diaspora Art History (ed. Eddie Chambers), and contributions to the Third Text Special Journal Issue ‘Polyphony: method, voice, archive’ and De-/Colonising Knowledge (eds. Amalia Barboza and Mariel R. Rodriguez), Heidelberg: arthistoricum.net.
As an artist-researcher, educator, and writer Deniz strives to decolonise and reappraise the art historical canon, by engaging with authors, art practices and the histories of art beyond Europe and North America, focusing on the potential of diasporic art to express multiple belongings and challenge a discourse of fixed origins.
A recent strand of Deniz’ research focuses on decolonising archives and decolonial archival practices. In 2022 she was awarded an Arts Council England grant to curate the multilingual digital archival exhibition Maker Unknown (www.makerunknown.org) which explores gaps and blind spots in the history, categorisation and provenance of non-European artefacts in the Camberwell ILEA collection.
Deniz was a recipient of the CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media) research scholarship, which enabled her to complete a PhD in visual arts at the University of Westminster. Her practice-based doctoral research The Art of Un-belonging (2019) set out to investigate and develop artistic strategies that challenge fixed notions of belonging and identity in the context of globalisation and diasporic art. The practice-element of the thesis was showcased as solo exhibition at London Gallery West in 2018 and her video installation Surya Namaz was nominated for the 2019 British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Best Practice Awards. In 2020 Deniz was invited by Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) to present her research as part of the Stuart Hall Library Research Network’s 2020 `Global Re-Visions’ public programme, coinciding with their 25th anniversary year.
Deniz presented her research in different contexts internationally, in the format of conference papers, workshops, screenings, exhibitions, performances, lectures and public art interventions – for instance, as part of InDialogue UK at Nottingham Contemporary, at the ‘Space and Belonging – Narratives of Migration, Materials and Gentrification’ symposium at the UCA Farnham and at the Association for Art History’s 2021 Annual Conference. Her research has been published in various articles, book chapters, online art magazines, and audio-visual supplements to publications in Germany and Switzerland. Following her presentation at the ‘Empire, off-center Workshop’, she was invited to contribute to a special issue peer reviewed journal by the Empires of Memory Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity, Göttingen. The publication is available in print and online (Carabelli, G et al. 2020. Sharpening the Haze: Visual Essays on Imperial History and Memory. London: Ubiquity Press).
Sözen is currently lead supervisor of two PhDs, a project on ‘Afro-Brazilian identities and alterities in Benin’ and the M4C funded study ‘Patterns of trauma: Lebanese Women Artists and the Aesthetics of Abstraction in times of War’.
Imperial Encounters: Art, museums and education at the crossroads of empire and post-Brexit Britain. University of Birmingham; (co-organised with Dr. Kate Nichols)
Speakers: Sara Wajid (Key note), co-CEO of Birmingham Museums Trust, Victoria Osborne, Curator, Birmingham Museums, Prof. Roshini Kempadoo, Karen McLean, Prof. Dorothy Price, Tara Munroe, Neelam Hussain, Raksha Patel, and others.
Recent invited speaker conferences, workshops and screenings
2023 ‘Mother(-Countries) – Mother(-Tongues)’, workshop as part of Mothering Communities, curated by Barbara Mahlknecht, Center Research Fokus, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria
2022 ‘Artist Panel Discussion: Race, Representation and Women’, chaired by Nicola Shipley, with Deborah Kermode, Farrah Chaudhry and Maryam Wahid, MAC Birmingham
2021 ‘South Asian Queerness & Gender Politics’. Moderator of artist panel with Jaivant Patel and Seema Mattu, SHOUT Festival, MAC Birmingham
2021 ‘Surya Namaz’, screening and round table discussion at the Association for Art History Conference; Panel ‘Global Art History and the Imbalance of Power’ convened by Prof. K. v. Zinnenburg Carroll, S. Kennedy and A. Sarjoughian (University of Birmingham/ online)
'Un-doing Belonging: Mobilising African Diaspora Art in the Art History Classroom' (chapter) in The Routledge Companion to African Diaspora Art History edited by Eddie Chambers (currently under review)
‘Maker Unknown - decolonial methodologies for digital archival practice’, co -authored with Vayu Naidu in De-/Kolonisierung des Wissens (De-/Colonising Knowledge), edited by Amalia Barboza and Mariel R. Rodriguez, Heidelberg: arthistoricum.net (currently under review)
‘Writing with Surya Namaz: the body as a living archive of diaspora’ in the Third Text Special Journal Issue ‘Polyphony: method, voice, archive’, edited by Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, Azadeh Sarjoughian and Stacey Kennedy (currently under review)