Video: Contemporary Art:Who Cares? Charles Esche, The Politics of Collecting within the Possible Museum (2010)

Posted on Mon, 02/22/2010 - 14:29
Charles Esche speaking at Contemporary Art: Who Cares?
Questions for the speakers moderated by Bart Rutten.
Plenary lecture (keynote)
The Politics of Collecting within the Possible Museum
Charles Esche, Director
Van Abbemuseum
Talking on collecting within a museum, there are several simple starting questions; what should a museum look like today? How does it behave towards the art of the present moment? How does it respect and animate its past? I had the feeling that the Van Abbemuseum was starting from a story of art and its place in the world that was no longer so recognisable to its society and intended visitors. In 2004, the new building had just opened and entered a world that was very different from the order under which it had first been planned. Those changes have come to be symbolised by the year 1989, which represents both the ‘end’ of ideology and history, as well as accelerating, new forms of globalisation. The modern art museum, by virtue of its contemporary ambitions, needed to reflect these changes in terms of geography, time and thinking about the public sphere. Perhaps only now can we begin to take a more detached view of what we think happened then, as a way to help explain why “the thing itself” stopped being the main focus and why making contexts visible seems such an urgent task today.
Charles Esche (1962) is a curator and writer. He is Director of van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and co-editor of Afterall Journal and Books based at Central St.Martins College of Art and Design, London. He is also an advisor at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. In 2009, he will curate the 3rd Riwaq Biennale, Palestine together with Reem Fadda. In the last years, he curated major exhibitions including the 2nd Riwaq Biennial, Palestine, 2007; the 9th Istanbul Biennial 2005 with Vasif Kortun, Esra Sarigedik Öktem and November Paynter and the Gwangju Biennale 2002 in Korea with Hou Hanru and Song Wang Kyung. Before that he was co-curator of 'Intelligence – New British Art' at the Tate Gallery, London and 'Amateur – Variable Research Initiatives' at Konstmuseum and Konsthall, Göteborg, both in 2000. From 2000-2004 he was Director of the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö where he made solo exhibitions with Surasi Kusolwong, Nedko Solakov and Superflex a.o. and group shows including “Baltic Babel” and “Intentional Communities” From 1998-2002 he organised the international art academic research project called ‘protoacademy’ at Edinburgh College of Art. From 1993-1997 he was Visual Arts Director at Tramway, Glasgow where he curated exhibitions by Elisabeth Ballet, Christine Borland, Roderick Buchanan Douglas Gordon, Jonathan Monk, Stephen Willats and Richard Wright as well as group shows such as Trust and The Unbelievable Truth. A book of his selected writings, Modest Proposals, was published by Baglam Press, Istanbul in 2005. He has written for numerous catalogues and magazines including: The Netherlands, for example (ed.), JP Ringier, 2007; Collective Creativity, Fredericianum, Kassel, 2006; Artur Zmijewski, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005; Shifting Map, NAI, Rotterdam, 2004. He has written for art magazines Artforum, Frieze, Parkett and Art Monthly among others. He is also a board member of the International Foundation Manifesta, Amsterdam and the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, Basel and lectures extensively at art colleges and institutions.