Charles Esche

Director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

Charles Esche (c)Maarten van Haaff/More Europe

Charles Esche is a curator and writer. Since 2004 he is Director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Editorial Director of Afterall Journal and Books at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, London. He is an advisor at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam and Board Member of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, Basel and MUSEON, Bolzano. He lectures extensively at art colleges and institutions around the world. His writings on institutional possibility and policy are useful aids to rethinking the relation between art and social change. Together with Will Bradley Esche co-edited the reader Art and Social Change published by Afterall and Tate Publishing.

Esche played an important role in projects such as Picasso in Palestine (2011), Heartland (2008-2009), Be(com)ing Dutch (2008) and Forms of Resistance (2007). Under his directorship, the Van Abbemuseum has created a European network - L’Internationale. He curated and co-curated the Slovenian Triennale, Ljubljana in 2010, the 2nd and 3rd Riwaq Biennial, Palestine 2009; the 9th Istanbul Biennial 2005 and November Paynter and the Gwangju Biennale in Korea 2002. 2000-2004 he was Director of the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö.

In 2012 Charles Esche won the European Cultural Foundation’s Princess Margriet Award for cultural change-makers who enhance the unique role of the arts in Europe, in recognition for his extraordinary curatorial oeuvre in which he has opened up the museum as a public space of active engagement reaching out to both local and international communities.

If we have an economic pillar, we have a political and a cultural pillar and society seems to be healthy if those three are in balance. We are way outbalanced now: the economic pillar is far too strong for the political pillar, for the ideological argument, but also for the cultural pillar. We need to undercrise the part of that process to bring these things into some kind of balance. I think we are in trouble (…) by discussing the superstructures and the frameworks.(…) What is this so called European culture that the European cultural embassies actually represent? What do they stand for?