Cuauhtémoc Medina Appointed Chief Curator of 12th Shanghai Biennale

Cuauhtémoc Medina

The 12th edition of the Shanghai Biennale will take place at the Power Station of Art (PSA) from November 10, 2018 to March 10, 2019. After careful consideration by members of the PSA Academic Committee and confirmation from the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film &TV, Cuauhtémoc Medina has been appointed the Chief Curator of the 12th Shanghai Biennale. The official title for the 2018 event will be announced at the end of this year.

Born in Mexico, Cuauhtémoc Medina is an internationally renowned art curator, critic and historian. Having worked extensively in Europe, he currently serves as Chief Curator at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City.

PSA’s Academic Committee believes that Medina’s broad curatorial experience, rich historical knowledge, and most especially, vast research into Latin-American contemporary art will bring a fresh perspective to the 21-year-old Shanghai Biennale. Given the current challenges global society faces due to accelerated political, economic and cultural transformation, the Shanghai Biennale is once again poised to touch upon one of the most critical questions of our time – how will art continue to make sense of this rapidly changing world? Fei Dawei, Rotating President of the PSA Academic Committee, commented: “Medina’s presentation follows a very clear curatorial structure. He tries to break the topicality and homogeneity of major international biennales to allow for changes and disruptions. This will be a challenging pursuit, but also an interesting exhibition rich in layers of meaning.”

Speaking of his appointment, Medina said, “Biennales are large scale exhibitions that, beyond offering a certain perspective on the potential of art and culture today, inscribe a city and an event as a provisory and symbolic artistic world center. That Shanghai hosts an exhibition of that kind is most appropriate for it provides a clear image of the current decentering of our cultural narratives and the significance that China and Asia have in the cultural and economic circuits of today. The Shanghai Biennale ought to become in the next years one of the most important sites of rethinking and renegotiating the geographies and concepts of contemporary art as we get into a new world history era. I hope that I will be able to produce, in collaboration with colleagues from China and around the world, an exhibition that will enhance the importance of a growing cultural production that infuses subjective complexity into the complex texture of our times.”

As the hosting organization of the Shanghai Biennale, PSA will be experimenting with the event’s academic research methodology, promotion, and administrative management. The management team for its 12th edition will also welcome two new members: Shi Hantao (Chief Coordinator) and He Huanhuan (Head of Administrative Affairs). They will work closely with the Chief Curator and the curatorial team, ensuring a Shanghai Biennale of the utmost quality.

Cuauhtémoc Medina – art critic, curator and historian – holds a Ph.D. in History and Theory of Art from the University of Essex in Britain and a BA in History from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Since 1993 he has been a full time researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), lecturer at the Philosophy Faculty and the Postgraduate Department of Art History of the same university, and between 2002 and 2008 was the first Associate Curator of Latin American Art Collections at the Tate Modern.

He has widely published texts in books, catalogues and periodicals, and among other things between 1999 and 2013 he was in charge of the art critical section of the Reforma newspaper in Mexico city, titled “Ojo Breve”.  A recent compilations on his critical interventions on art in Mexico has been published with the title Abuso Mutuo (Mutual Abuse)  by Cubo Blanco and RM in 2017.

Among other projects, he has organized When Faith Moves Mountains (Lima, Peru, 2001) by Francis Alÿs; The Age of Discrepancies, Art and Visual Culture in Mexico 1968–1997, (in collaboration with Olivier Debroise, Pilar García and Alvaro Vazquez, 2007-2008); Teresa Margolles’s project for the Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2009, What Else Could We Talk About?, Dominó Canibal (Cannibal Dominoes) (2010), one year long series for, the Contemporary Art Project (PAC) in Murcia, Spain; and in 2012, he was Head Curator of the Manifesta 9 Biennial in Genk, Belgium, titled The Deep of the Modern,  in association with Katerina Gregos and Dawn Ades. Since 2013, he is Chief Curator at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico city, where he has curated a number of exhibitions  by artists such as Harun Farocki, Raqs Media Collective, Jeremy Deller, Andrea Fraser, Vicente Rojo, Vincent Meessen, Jorge Macchi, Jill Magid and Hito Steyerl, among others. He has also recently curated Francis Alÿs A Story of Negotation, (2014-)  a travelling show organized for museums in Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Canada and the USA.

In 2013 he was granted the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement by the Menil Foundation in Houston, Texas.

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