Dalida María Benfield, Ph.D., is a Latina (Panamá/U.S.) media artist, researcher, and writer. She is currently Core Faculty in the Vermont College of Fine Art MFA in Visual Arts program, and was a Research Fellow and Faculty Associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University (2011-2015).

In her research-based artistic practice, she produces video, installations, archives, artists’ books, workshops, and other pedagogical and communicative actions, across online and offline platforms and most often, collectively. Her most recent work, losarchivosdelcuerpo [body files] invokes a decolonial feminist aesthetics and the poetics of the re-embodiment of knowledge and knowledge sharing in the mediated shadows of colonialisms. The work takes the form of an open access archive of art and writing, an installation of video, photographs, and drawings, as well as a video screening series, workshops, and print publications. The collective project, with work contributed by international artists and authors, exhibited most recently at Huret & Spector Gallery, Emerson College, Boston (April 2015); and SALASAB, Bogotá, Colombia (October 2015), co-designed with the artist Robert Ochshorn (US/Germany).

Her research engages questions of gender and the geo-politics of knowledge in the work of contemporary digital media artists and activists. Built from decolonial theory, transnational feminist methodology, and the sociology of global flows of information, her research and practice have resulted in the concept of "decolonial media aesthetics." Her research and writing projects have specifically taken up critical engagements with gender, race, technology, and discourses of development; artists’ and activists' iteration of technology as social and epistemic interventions; and open knowledge and digital humanities, including the development of new online platforms for art, feminist research, and video archives. Her recent work has addressed the work of individual artists, such as Michelle Dizon, Fabiano Kueva, Enrique Castro Ríos, Cao Fei, and artists' collectives, including the Raqs Media Collective; as well as activist media during the global Occupy movement, the Egyptian revolution, and the global environmental and water rights movements. Her current research, a critical engagement with discourses of gender and technology in development projects in the Global South is culminating in a monograph, Beyond Binary Code. Her dissertation, Apparatuses/Globalities/Assemblages: Third Cinema, Now (Trinh T. Minh-ha, Chair), engaged in an interdisciplinary study of the questions of Third Cinema in the refracted context of contemporary digital cinemas, with a transnational and decolonial feminist lens (2011). She is a member of several international research clusters, including decolonial theory and aesthetics at the Transnational Decolonial Institute. She is also leading a new research group, "Decoding the Codex," in the "Future Making" group at Aarhus University, Denmark. She actively participates in hackathons and other think/do tanks in the Cambridge and San Francisco areas, most recently the CODEX Hackathon (2015-16).

An overarching theme of technology access and participatory media production marks her work, and a pedagogical disposition infuses her projects. She creates participatory environments for media and technology literacy, design, and production using strategies of critical pedagogy and popular education. She engaged in her doctoral study as a UC-Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellow (2005-2010) after many years of college and university teaching in video, film, and media education and theory, as well as teaching in activist and community based media art production, including at Latino Youth Alternative High School in Chicago, Illinois; at all levels of K-12 education; as well as multiple urban and rural sites and audiences, including youth organizing centers, senior centers, after-school programs for fostered youth, and residential homes for the differently abled. She has also trained teachers and organizers in critical media literacy and critical pedagogy theory and practice, in both community settings and in higher education as Associate Professor and Chair of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1997 – 2004). Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in Photography (teaching video/performance/installation and contemporary cultural theory with an emphasis on social engagement) at the School of Art and Design of the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (1995 – 1997), and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication (teaching introductory and advanced video and film production) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1991 – 1992).

Her current and past work also includes independent media, art, and social justice organizing and activism. She was a founding collective member of the U.S. Latina/o community-focused popular education organization, the Escuela Popular Norteña, co-founded by Geoff Bryce and María C. Lugones (1989 - 1995). From 1994 – 2007, she was co-founder and collective member of the artists’ collective and non-profit media project, Video Machete, which created open access media centers and free workshops as a practice of collective art and media making and liberatory media pedagogy with youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and recent immigrant youth. Video Machete and its projects received substantial support from the Open Society Institute, the MacArthur Foundation, the AOL-Time Warner Foundation, the Crossroads Fund, and other foundations and individual donors. Benfield's work in youth media continued recently in 2014, co-organizing the Media Art Knowledge Engaged (M.A.K.E.) project, a transnational youth media research and production project of the "Digitally Connected" research network at the Youth Media project of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and UNICEF. She has also worked on global media justice, access, and education initiatives and campaigns, including co-organizing the North American Media Justice Delegation to the World Summit on Information Society in 2005 and the World Social Forum Concentric Event in San Francisco in 2008. She is the co-founder of the Women's International Information Project (1998 - 2000) and was Program Director of the Women in the Director's Chair International Independent Film and Video Festival (1992 - 1994, Board of Directors, 1994 - 2004). She currently is the founder of the transnational feminist platform, The Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects, which is organizing publications and events for digital art and contemporary cultural criticism with diverse feminist voices.

Her individual and collective work has exhibited at the PHAKT Centre Cultural, Rennes, France; Espacio Parqueadero, Museo del Banco de La Republica, Bogotá, Colombia; Arte Nuevo Interactiva, Merida, Mexico; Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok, Poland; the Fredric Jameson Gallery, Duke University Durham, NC, USA; Playspace Gallery, California College of Art, San Francisco, CA, USA; Sundance Film Festival, Gen Y screening series; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; as well as numerous additional film festivals and screenings. Excerpts are housed permanently on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting website, and her work is archived in the Stanford Special Collections library, as well as numerous other public and university libraries. Awards for her video work include the Audience Choice Award at the Chicago Latino International Film Festival, 1994; and the Eagle Award at the Taos Talking Pictures Festival, 1997.

She writes and lectures extensively, with presentations in 2015 including The Feminist Art Project @ CAA day of panels, New York, NY; Université Rennes II, France; SXSW.edu, Austin, TX; and the National Women’s Studies Conference, Milwaukee, WI. Recent publications include “Cinema flows, Like water,” in Moscow Art Magazine (upcoming February 2016), as well as chapters in the books Subjectivités Féministes Queer et Postcoloniales en Art Contemporain: Un Histoire en Mouvements (Eds. Marie-laure Alain Bonilla and Elvan Zabunyan, Université Rennes II, upcoming 2016); “Flow” in Social Text/Periscope (July 2013); Estéticas Descoloniales (Eds. Walter Mignolo and Pedro Pablo Gomez Moreno, Bogotá, Colombia: Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, 2012), Mapping Latina/o Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Eds. Angharad Valdivia and Matt Garcia, New York: Peter Lang, 2012); Art and Social Justice Education: Culture as Commons (Eds. John Ploof, Therese Quinn and Lisa Hochtritt, Routledge, 2012); and Making Our Media: Global Initiatives Toward a Democratic Public Sphere (Eds. Dorothy Kidd, Clemencia Rodriguez, et al, Hampton Press, 2009).

Benfield studied as an undergraduate in the Filmmaking program at Tisch School of the Arts/NYU (1982-1984) and received her BA in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied film theory and history, as well as film production, and video and performance art (1986). Her MFA is in Studio Art (Film/Video) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1989). She also holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality (2011).


Contact: dalidamariab@gmail.com