Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy New Director Witte de With

Issue no2
April - May 2019
Magisch Realisme

The supervisory board of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam announces the appointment of Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy as its new director, effective from 1st January 2018. Her appointment follows on an open call and nomination process set for candidates end of 2016.

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy succeeds Defne Ayas, who has been director of Witte de With since 2012. Ayas leaves her position after having led the institution successfully for two terms of three years, the maximum for a director at Witte de With, according to its governance code.

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy comes to the position from Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, where she has been its curator of contemporary art since 2011. Originally from Mexico, she has also developed initiatives independently, from teaching, writing and publishing, to serving as counselor for Fundación Alumnos47, to curating museum projects. She most recently organized The Neighbors (2016−2017), an exhibition series at The Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, and Let’s Walk Together (2016), a survey exhibition of Mario Garcia Torres at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, the institution which she directed in 2009−2010. Hernández Chong Cuy was artistic director and chief curator of the 9th Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brasil (2013) and an agent of dOCUMENTA[13] (2012) in Kassel. Prior to this, in New York, she was curator and programs manager at Art in General and associate curator at Americas Society.

Kees Weeda, chairman of the supervisory board of Witte de With, states: “The Center has assumed several identities over the past two and half decades. It has always been an authored space shaped by the latest developments in the field of contemporary art. The question of how to define the organization’s role is one that has been continually re-visited, with every director making their mark. We look forward to the coming period with Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy and to building with her on our current cultural plan. We are convinced that her curatorial leadership and prior experience will further strengthen the institution’s position in the field as a pioneering platform for art, culture, and debate - locally, nationally and internationally.

“I am honored and excited to assume the directorship of Witte de With, whose program and contributions to the field I’ve long admired,” says Hernández Chong Cuy. “It is an opportunity to publicly explore ways artists visualize the structures of feeling of our times, and I am committed to do so by creating initiatives that delve in the present, acknowledge cultural archives, and inspire communities of thought.” As director, Hernández Chong Cuy will also address the institution’s most recent decision that a change is to be made to Witte de With’s name in order to more adequately reflect the current values it stands for as an institute for contemporary art and culture. She will engage with artists who she has collaborated with in the past, and whose work, for the most part, has yet to have exposure in the Netherlands. She is also expecting to collaborate with artists whose work she will come to experience and learn about through research conducted during her tenure in Rotterdam.

Kees Weeda expressed that “Under the directorship of Defne Ayas, Witte de With has opened to wider audiences, with a daring and globally far-reaching program that included internationally acclaimed exhibitions, timely public programs, bold publications, and increased educational initiatives. Ayas also completed the difficult assignment of redefining the position of Witte de With in its hometown Rotterdam. We are proud of her and thank her for her tireless dedication to raising the profile of our institution nationally and internationally.”

“I am thrilled to see what we were able to achieve in the past six years, especially in the way we have become more of an open and inclusive place, and how we continued to be a site of excellence for exhibitions, while also transforming into a stage for global and national debate about the role of art and culture in society” Ayas stated, “I am grateful for the opportunity I was given here to work with some of the most generous and demanding artists, thinkers, and writers of our times. I will cherish this place and its people for the rest of my life. Sofía’s appointment aligns wonderfully with our ambitions to keep this center a continuously relevant one. She is someone who is conscientious and of uncompromising curatorial rigor, and, as such, the perfect person to lead this institution into the next, and possibly the most important, chapter of its evolution.”

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 2 — 2019