Catherine Sullivan

Lecture & Dining


Trained as an actor and visual artist, Catherine Sullivan (American, born 1968) began publicly presenting film, theater and installation works in the early 2000’s. Early works are concerned with the psychic and cultural dilemmas inherent in dramatic acting and the ways in which history is projected through the body. Performers in her film and theater works cope with written texts, gestural and choreographic regimes, stylistic economies and conceptual orthodoxies animating contestations and unfinished business drawn from the locations where she shoots. These anxious and highly aestheticized worlds are populated by perplexing bodies who animate questions of self-possession and redress through the curious dimension of empathy and aversion that unfolds between the performer and viewer.


Sullivan’s solo exhibitions, performances, and films have been presented at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Secession, Vienna; Tate Modern, London; Opéra de Lyon, Lyon; and Trapdoor Theatre, Chicago, among others. Her work has been included in the Whitney, Moscow, and Gwangju biennials; Berlin International Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam; and BFI London International Film Festival. Notable awards include the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the United States Artists Walker Fellowship, and a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award. She is an associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.

Production still: Catherine Sullivan. The Startled Faction, 2018. Digital video, color/sound, 35 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.