At its meeting on 30 March 2023, the supervisory board of Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin (KBB) GmbH has decided to appoint Jenny Schlenzka as Director of the Gropius Bau. It followed a recommendation by the Director of the Berliner Festspiele, Matthias Pees. The Gropius Bau is the Berliner Festspiele’s exhibition hall.
The Chair of the supervisory board, Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth:
“I am extremely pleased that in Jenny Schlenzka we have been able to secure an internationally successful, well connected and creative curator for the Gropius Bau, to extend and build upon the successful course of modernisation pursued by Stephanie Rosenthal. With her international expertise, Jenny Schlenzka will be an asset to the Berliner Festspiele. We look forward to many exciting exhibitions in the heart of Berlin with a global outlook.”
The cultural scholar, curator and present Executive Artistic Director of Performance Space New York, currently resident in New York City, USA, succeeds Stephanie Rosenthal who was the Director of the Gropius Bau from February 2018 to September 2022. Rosenthal raised the profile and international reputation of the institution as an open venue for contemporary art and discourse. Schlenzka, who played a key role in establishing performance art within the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and in recent years has made a significant contribution to the progressive diversification of New York’s cultural landscape, intends to build on this and – based on the perspectives and practices of the artists themselves – extend the interdisciplinary, performative and thematic approaches at the Gropius Bau even further.
Matthias Pees, Director of the Berliner Festspiele:
“Jenny Schlenzka’s curatorial and institutional practice focusses on the artists, making them and their works the starting and reference point for all programming and thematic ideas. At a time when curatorial and artistic practices are questioned and debated by society as a whole, this is a strong and politically important position. Jenny Schlenzka will complement major exhibitions of contemporary and modern art at the Gropius Bau with new performative and transdisciplinary formats, in order to extend the programme and significantly strengthen the overall profile of the Berliner Festspiele with their two venues.”
The Berliner Festspiele advertised the position of Director of the Gropius Bau last October.
Matthias Pees expressed his thanks to the experts who advised him during the appointment process: Susanne Gaensheimer (Director of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), Gabriele Horn (Director of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art), Teresa Koloma Beck (Professor of Sociology, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg), Thomas Krüger (President of the Federal Agency for Civic Education) and Mirjam Wenzel (Director of The Jewish Museum Frankfurt).
The Berlin-born curator and specialist in time-based art Jenny Schlenzka has been Executive Artistic Director of Performance Space New York since 2017, where she has involved artists in all aspects of the institution since 2019. She has worked together with Hannah Black, Donna Haraway, Juliana Huxtable, Mette Ingvartsen, Ligia Lewis, Renata Lucas, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Sarah Michelson, Precious Okoyomon, Sondra Perry, Underground Resistance and many others. Under her leadership, Performance Space became an exemplary venue for interdisciplinary, time-based art where significant contributions were achieved in the diversification of and the inclusion of communities within New York’s cultural landscape. She was previously Associate Curator at MoMA PS1 in New York. There she initiated the weekly live programme “Sunday Sessions” and developed new exhibition formats for performance art with artists including Anne Imhof and Xavier Le Roy. Between 2008 and 2012 Schlenzka was Assistant Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at the Museum of Modern Art, where, as its first curator of performance, she worked on the exhibition and acquisition of ephemeral art.
Schlenzka’s institutional experience is characterised by curiosity and openness, which repeatedly places contemporary art in a dialogue with present cultural and social challenges. She has a special interest in the role of ephemeral art for museums and exhibition halls and in the challenges of achieving genuine diversity.
Jenny Schlenzka on her appointment:
“I have been thrilled by the developments at the Gropius Bau in recent years and am delighted to continue the process of opening up the institution in dialogue with the city of Berlin and its many communities – in collaboration with the artists and the team at the Gropius Bau and the Berliner Festspiele. The increased inclusion of ephemeral art in the programme of major exhibitions will also play a significant role and broaden the institution’s mission in future.”
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