Philippe Van Cauteren is currently artistic director of S.M.A.K. Museum for Contemporary Art in Ghent. He cocurated the Belgian Pavilion in 2013 and, for this presentation, will focus on “curating a pavilion that resonates with the rich scope of Iraqi identity that extends beyond the country’s fragile borders,” as stated in a press release issued by the Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq.
Van Cauteren’s commitment to nurturing and empowering Iraqi artists also extends beyond the Biennale. He said, “the Pavilion exhibition will constitute the beginning of a continued relationship with Ruya, working to enable a new generation of Iraqi artists to transcend their geography and prosper on a global scale.”
Said the chairperson of Ruya, Tamara Chalabi: “Philippe Van Cauteren is suitably positioned to explore Iraq’s complicated terrain, having worked in diverse international contexts, as well as further enlarging S.M.A.K.’s artistic focus. At this very critical juncture in Iraq’s existence, Ruya believes that the presence of a national pavilion of Iraq at Venice will act as a crucial ambassador for the endurance of Iraqi contemporary culture.”
To coincide with the exhibition Ruya is producing a book in collaboration with Mousse Publishing. The exhibition will travel to S.M.A.K. in spring 2016.
About Philippe Van Cauteren
Philippe Van Cauteren has been artistic director of S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Ghent, Belgium since 2004. Under his guidance the exhibition programme has mainly concentrated on major monographical exhibitions, including Nedko Solakov (2012), Joachim Koester (2012), Maria Nordman (2013), Javier Tellez (2013), Richard Jackson (2014) and Thomas Ruff (2014). At the 55th edition of la Biennale di Venezia, he was co-curator of the Pavilion of Belgium exhibition Kreupelhout – Cripplewoodby Berlinde De Bruyckere, who currently has a retrospective in S.M.A.K. Van Cauteren’s particular interest in art in the public sphere was exemplified by the international exhibition TRACK (2012) in Ghent, which was co-curated with Mirjam Varadinis. Before joining S.M.A.K. Van Cauteren worked as a freelance curator and publicist in Germany, Mexico, Chile and Brazil. He was the curator of the first Biennal Ceara America in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2002.
About Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq
Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (Ruya) is an Iraqi-registered not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation founded in 2012 by Iraqi art and culture enthusiasts with the aim of aiding and enriching culture in Iraq, and building cultural bridges with the world. Ruya’s fundamental aim is to promote culture in Iraq—a mission with particular significance at a time when priorities are focused elsewhere—and to build a sustainable platform that will enable Iraqis in the arts, the young in particular, to benefit from and participate in international events. Concurrent with its ongoing support of local projects, Ruya’s focus rests on creating a network of intercultural events by which it can contribute to the development of civil society in Iraq and continue to nurture a multicultural dialogue through the arts. Collaborating internationally, Ruya works with institutions to create meaningful opportunities for Iraqi artists, including residencies and exhibitions.
Image: Philippe Van Cauteren. Courtesy S.M.A.K.