Nicolaus Schafhausen leaves Kunsthalle Wien 2019

Issue no6
Strategieën voor de lange termijn + Nieuwe Collectie

Press release Kunsthalle Wien:

"Advanced experiments in the arts are increasingly constrained by the resurgence of nationalist politics in Austria" Nicolaus Schafhausen

The Director of the Kunsthalle Wien, Nicolaus Schafhausen, has reached an agreement with the City of Vienna for the early dissolution of his contract. Schafhausen has been Director of the Kunsthalle Wien since 2012.

"After six years as Director of the Kunsthalle Wien, and after realizing more than 40 exhibitions together with my team, I believe it’s time to look back with pride at what has been achieved. The Kunsthalle Wien has, under my leadership, devoted itself to an innovative and experimental program that, as an open forum, promotes and explores aesthetic and socio-political concerns. The opposition to the program was partly foreseeable given the political position the institution has advocated. Kunsthalle Wien is an institution that is at the centre of controversial debate that has manifestly hit a sore spot in the self-image and self-realization of Vienna’s cultural landscape. Projects such as Political Populism or How To Live Together contributed to the positioning of Kunsthalle Wien around topical issues that radiate on an international level. Solo exhibitions presented, such as Florian Hecker and Ydessa Hendeles are recent examples - due to their radical diversity - of the artistic and curatorial range covered.

What next? For me, this question presents itself rather differently than before. Due to the current resurgence of nationalist politics in Austria, and the situation occurring across Europe, the reach, impact and the possibilities of institutions such as Kunsthalle Wien seem to be put into question. Cultural institutions that engage with complex societal and artistic challenges will require substantially stronger political backing in the future.

I have therefore decided to leave on a high note and not continue as before. I am looking forward to new challenges beyond the boundaries of conventional institutions. My thanks go to the City of Vienna, the Supervisory Board and the staff of the Kunsthalle Wien for their support and their trust. Over the remaining months, I will support the Kunsthalle Wien as best I can and oversee the transition. From 2019 on, I will be breaking new ground."

Kunsthalle Wien
The Kunsthalle Wien conceives and presents a program of international contemporary art and related contemporary discourses that is unique for Vienna. Accordingly, it develops innovative formats for exhibiting and communicating. The exhibition Ydessa Hendeles. Death to Pigs, curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, will run until May 27, 2018 at Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier. It is the first retrospective of the Canadian artist in Europe. With Kate Newby. I can’t nail the days down, the Kunsthalle Wien presents until September 2, 2018 the first institutional exhibition of the New Zealand artist in Austria. The exhibition of German conceptual artist Olaf Nicolai There Is No Place Before Arrival, from July 13 to October 7, 2018 and the subsequent large-scale group show Antarctica. An Exhibition about Alienation, (which will be preceded by a symposium on the topic over several days), are among the highlights of this year’s program. In autumn, the French artist Saâdane Afif will develop a new ensemble of works for Kunsthalle Wien on Karlsplatz. A solo exhibition on the work of Annette Kelm, curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, will open in December 2018.

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 6 — 2020