The board of Witte de With
, Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, announces the appointment of Defne Ayas as its new director, effective from 1st January 2012.
Defne Ayas will succeed Nicolaus Schafhausen, who has been director since early 2006. At the end of this year, he will leave his post, having led the institute very successfully for six years, the maximum number of years a director can stay at Witte de With according to the institutions policy.
Istanbul native Defne Ayas heads to Rotterdam from New York, where she has served as a curator of Performa the visual art performance biennial of New York City since 2004, and from Shanghai, where she has acted as a co-founding director of Arthub Asia a contemporary art initiative devoted to art creation and exchange across Asia since 2007. Ayas was also a faculty member of contemporary art and new media at the New York University in Shanghai for the past five years.
Prior to joining Arthub Asia and Performa, she coordinated the New York-based New Museum of Contemporary Arts public and new media programming. Ayas has recently served as a curatorial advisor to the 8th Shanghai Biennale, and as a publication advisor to the 8th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea) in 2010. Defne Ayas completed De Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam and received her Masters degree from ITP Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
Defne Ayas will stay involved with Performa, Arthub Asia, as well as with Blind Dates Project, an artistic platform dedicated to tackling what remains of the legacy and rupture of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), of which she is a founding co-curator.
Jack Bakker, chairman of the board of Witte de With states: Under the directorship of Nicolaus Schafhausen, Witte de With has created numerous nationally and internationally acclaimed exhibitions and events, both in Rotterdam and abroad. We are very grateful to him for this. We look forward to the coming three years with Defne Ayas. We expect her to continue to build high profile collaborative platforms among artists and organizations across the globe. We are convinced that her curatorial leadership and her collaborative and expansive approach will further enhance Witte de With's ambitions on local, national and international levels.