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Nicolaus Schafhausen

Curating contemporary art against the backdrop of a local context
19–31 August 2019

Nicolaus Schafhausen, political populism
Political Populism, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 2015, exhibition view, photo: Stephan Wyckoff


Curatorial practice and theory

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Teaching language
English (teacher also speaks German)

What to bring
Interest in a critical examination of contemporary art and curatorial practices


Maximum number of participants

Juliane Bischoff

Participation fee
€ 700.– (€ 540.–)

How do we curate exhibitions of contemporary art in places with a culture of remembrance? That is the question to be dealt with in this course. The focus is on the impact of art beyond the classic White Cube of museums and exhibition centres.

Taking the example of a special exhibition in the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, we will explore questions of how far the specific local, historical and current context plays a role in curating contemporary art, and how far it can be productively incorporated. How can current artistic positions enter meaningfully into a dialogue with institutional remembrance work? How, in polarised times, can cultural work make an effective social contribution through art? How far is it necessary to re-politicise art today? Or should art be considered free of social responsibility? How can the emancipatory potential of art be interpreted today? How can different perspectives be productively combined? Not least – how can the public be meaningfully involved?

Students will work individually, or preferably in groups, on specific examples they themselves choose, and develop concepts for exhibitions/projects. One or two excursions to Munich are planned during the course.
Nicolaus Schafhausen is the parting director of the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. He was artistic director of the Stuttgart Künstlerhaus (DE) and director of the Frankfurt Kunstverein (DE), curator at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art in Helsinki (NIFCA) and founding director of the European Kunsthalle, Cologne (DE). From 2006 to 2012 he directed the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (NL). He has been strategic director of Fogo Island Arts, an initiative of the Canadian Shorefast Foundation since 2011. In 2007 and 2009, Nicolaus Schafhausen curated the German Pavilion at the 52nd and 53rd Biennale di Venezia, Venice (IT). In 2014 he was co-curator of the 54th October Salon in Belgrade, in 2015 a member of the curatorial team of the 6th Moscow Biennial, and curator of the Republic of Kosovo Pavilion at the 56th Biennale di Venezia, Venice. Besides his extensive experience as a curator and as a director of distinguished institutions, Nicolaus Schafhausen has written and edited numerous publications on contemporary art. He was guest professor at the Saar Academy of Fine Arts in Saarbrücken (DE), and is guest lecturer at the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Ghent (BE).

2018 Antarktika. Eine Ausstellung über Entfremdung, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. 2017 Thomas Bayrle. Wenn etwas zu lang ist – mach es länger, Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna. How To Live Together, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. 2015 Politischer Populismus, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. How To Gather? Acting in a Center in a City in the Heart of the Island of Eurasia?, (co-curated with Bart De Baere and Defne Ayas) 6th Moscow Biennial, Moscow. 2014 Disappearing Things, (co-curated with Vanessa Joan Müller) 55th October Salon, Belgrade.

Brigitte Oetker, Nicolaus Schafhausen (eds.): Was wissen wir? Was haben wir? Was fehlt uns? Was lieben wir?. Jahresring 65, Sternberg Press, Berlin 2018.
Alexandra McIntosh, Nicolaus Schafhausen (eds.): Edgar Leciejewski: Tones, Fogo Island Arts/Sternberg Press, Berlin 2018.
Defne Ayas, Bart De Baere, Marie Egger, Nicolaus Schafhausen (eds.): How To Gather. Acting Relations, Mapping Positions, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam 2017.
Luca Lo Pinto, Nicolaus Schafhausen (eds.): Pierre Bismuth. Things I Remember I Have Done, But Don’t Remember Why I Did Them, Sternberg Press, Berlin 2016.

Nicolaus Schafhausen
Portrait photo: Steffen Jagenburg