Professor Charles Esche, The Demodern as a Possibility for Western Europe


  • 5.15pm

  • Hunter Building, Hunter Lecture Theatre (017)
    74 Lauriston Place
    Edinburgh
    EH3 9DF

Presented by Professor Charles Esche (Van Abbemuseum)

The talk will stray across European museums and international socially engaged artistic practices to explore if art can be a site to imagine Europe’s place in the world differently. It argues that the profound experience of colonialism by and in western Europe has left a weeping wound that still has worldly implications. The art world is already working with the tools of decoloniality and post-colonialism. That is a necessary but perhaps not sufficent process when it comes to western Europe - the core zone of colonial agency. By digging into the partial scabs that have formed around modernity and colonialism in Europe, some of the lost emancipatory potential of modernity might still be realisable - but only if the grid of the modern-colonial matrix is dismantled and ditched. This process is one that has much wider implications than art alone, but the contention of the talk is that art might be an appropriate place to start, given its traditions of autonomy and experimentation. In all events, the atomisation of western society and the weakness of modern collectives such as trade unions and political parties makes looking for a ground on which to build a proposition of a good society ever more urgent.

Professor Charles Esche

Charles Esche is a curator and writer. He is director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; professor of contemporary art and curating at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London and a visiting lecturer at the Centre of Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York. He is series editor of Exhibition Histories published by Bard College and Afterall and distributed by the University of Chicago Press. 

He has (co-)curated many exhibitions, such as Le Musée Égaré for Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse, 2016, the Jakarta Biennale (2015), and the 31st Sao Paulo Bienal; U3 Triennale, Ljubljana (2011); Riwaq Biennale, Ramallah with Reem Fadda (2007 & 2009); Istanbul Biennale with Vasif Kortun (2005); Gwangju Biennale with Hou Hanru (2002); Amateur Gothenburg with Mark Kremer and Adam Szymczyk (2000). He teaches on the Exhibition Studies MRes course at Central Saint Martins, at Jan van Eyck Academie. Maastricht and at the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem. From 2000-2004 he was director of Rooseum, Malmö, Sweden and before that worked at protoacademy, Edinburgh and Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland.

He is a board member of Sonsbeek International and chair of CASCO, Utrecht, NL. In 2012 he was awarded the Princess Margriet Award for Cultural Change by the European Cultural Foundation, Brussels, in 2013 the Minumum Prize by the Pistoletto Foundation and in 2014 the Audrey Irmas CCS Bard College Prize for Curatorial Excellence.

The talk is free and open to all. Drinks are served afterwards in the John Higgitt Gallery.

Are you interested in studying History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research at Edinburgh College of Art?