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Curatorial Lecture
Nicolaus Schafhausen

Curating in Front of a Local Backdrop

PAST - Saturday, February 13, 2010. 8 pm

Presented at the Candahar Bar, a project by Presentation House Gallery
on Granville Island at the PTC Studio, 3rd Floor 1398 Cartwright Street

Doors open at 7pm. Seating is limited, please arrive early.

The University of British Columbia’s Critical and Curatorial Studies Program in conjunction with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery; the Walter Phillips Gallery; Visual Arts at The Banff Centre; and the Curatorial Practice MA Program at the California College of the Arts, present Curating in Front of a Local Backdrop a talk by Nicolaus Schafhausen, as part of the Curatorial Lecture Series.

Nicolaus Schafhausen is Artistic and Managing Director of Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He was curator of the German Pavilion at both the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennial in 2007 and 2009. As Director of Frankfurter Kunstverein, from 1998 to 2005, he curated many thematic exhibitions on contemporary social issues, such as the “local”, migration, and a trilogy on the phenomenon of globalization. In 2003 he curated an exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Theodor W. Adorno, titled Adorno. The Possibility of the Impossible.

This talk will focus on the traditional European art centre. Operating before a local backdrop, these centres are internationally oriented and address a heterogeneous public often made up of tourists. Although cities are increasingly integrating them into their marketing strategies, when it comes to financing, they are being left more and more to fend for themselves. While contemporary art deals with the many challenges in politics, society, and economy in a productive and reflective way, art institutions have to face these challenges directly. This includes diminishing financial support and general changes within a city’s citizens. Art centres continue to assume that they have a relationship with the local citizenry, though none of the demographic factors seem to favour the continuance of this traditional alliance.

As part of this lecture, Schafhausen will survey his curatorial practice since the 1990s, starting with his current project “Morality” which he has initiated as the new leitmotif for Witte de With. Morality is a broad subject that references a total field of social engagement. As a project, “Morality” seeks to explore critical points of fragmentation in everyday life which seem to be simple, but are also disturbingly difficult to grasp.

The Curatorial Lecture Series presents lectures on contemporary curatorial practice. It is organized by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in collaboration with the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory; the Museum of Anthropology; and the Department of Anthropology; with the support of the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies; and the Faculty of Arts at The University of British Columbia. This talk is presented in collaboration with the Walter Phillips Gallery; Visual Arts at The Banff Centre and the Presentation House Gallery.

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689