The search for a new artistic director for the Grazer Kunstverein
attracted the large amount of 100 applicants from home and abroad. It was a difficult task for the jury to draw a shortlist from the variety of high-quality applications. Out of the candidates that were interviewed, the new artistic director was selected:
Tom Engels (b. 1989, Belgium) will be the new artistic director of the Grazer Kunstverein from October 1, 2021 onwards.
Engels succeeds Kate Strain, who after five successful years of directorship is leaving to establish Irelands first Kunstverein. Under her directorship, Grazer Kunstverein has developed a practice-based approach, inviting international artists to locate the production of new work in Graz, engaging with multiple publics and supporting the development of original, ambitious and often performative artistic projects.
The jury, consisting of Georg Mayer-Heinisch, Alexander Isola, Stefan Stolitzka and Georg List (the board of Grazer Kunstverein) and Adam Budak (director Kestner Gesellschaft), Vanessa Joan Müller (art historian, writer and curator), Michael Grossmann (Kulturamt Graz), and Tanja Gurke (Grazer Kunstverein), welcomes Engels appointment with the following statement:
Tom Engels intuitively convinced us with his transdisciplinary approach and his precise analysis of the Kunstverein as well as its opportunities and potentials. The program he has in mind departs from close collaborations with artists and puts them and their works centre stage. His curatorial concept emphasizes a poetics and politics of the body and belonging. It reconsiders what membership might mean today within the Kunstverein as a member-based institution and beyond. Mediation will play a significant role, too, by emphasizing intertwined programs, narrative structures, and exchange. His approach is profoundly contemporary without ignoring the history of the Kunstverein, unconventional in a positive sense, and focuses both on the local and the international. In Tom Engels, the Grazer Kunstverein has found an artistic director who will continue to position the institution as one of the leading ones of their kind.
Tom Engels works as a curator, editor, writer, educator, and dramaturge at the intersection of performance and the visual arts. Currently, he is Associate Curator for trust & confusion (2021) at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong, in collaboration with Xue Tan and Raimundas Malaauskas, and serves as the editor of voices, trust & confusions online audio program. He is the initiator of front (2021), Brussels, where he has presented artists including Trevor Yeung, Julie Peeters & Elena Narbutaitė, and Hamish Pearch. Other recent curatorial projects include Touch Release, Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden (2021), Techno-Intimacies in collaboration with Joanna Zielińska, M HKA, Antwerp (2021), Hana Miletić: RAD/Materials, Haus, Vienna (2020), another name, spoken, Jan Mot, Brussels (2017) and the series Matters of Performance at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK), Ghent (2017-2019). He is the co-editor of Conversations in Vermont: Steve Paxton (2020), published by Sarma, for which he received a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Archive Research Grant. He collaborated with choreographers such as Alexandra Bachzetsis during documenta 14, Athens and Kassel, and Mette Ingvartsen for steirischer herbst, Graz, as well with Mette Edvardsen, Bryana Fritz and PRICE/Mathias Ringgenberg. Since 2013, Engels has held a visiting professorship at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK), Ghent, and has regularly contributed to various art educational contexts such as P.A.R.T.S. (Brussels), a.pass (Brussels), S.N.D.O. (Amsterdam), and Centre National de la Danse (Paris). His writing has appeared in magazines including Artforum International, frieze, CURA., Extra Extra Nouveau Magazine Erotique, and De Witte Raaf.
Grazer Kunstverein is structurally supported by the city of Graz, Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport, the province of Styria, legero united the shoemakers, con-tempus.eu, and its members.