Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New director for the Ullens Center

New director for the Ullens Center

Changes at the top of Beijing museum‹just four months after opening

Gareth Harris and Emma Beatty | 18.2.08 |

French curator Jérôme Sans is expected to be announced as the new
artistic director of the Ullens Center of Contemporary Art (UCCA) in
Beijing at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday. Speaking to The
Art Newspaper last month, Guy Ullens, the Belgian foodstuffs baron
who has entirely funded UCCA, said that Jérôme Sans had been selected
as the new director and that an announcement would be made as soon as
the appropriate Chinese authorities had approved the appointment.

If all goes according to plan, Mr Sans will replace UCCA¹s current
artistic director, Fei Dawei, the Chinese art critic, who is to step
down from operational matters and take on a research-based role.
Dawei curated the museum¹s inaugural show ³Œ85 New Wave: the Birth of
Chinese Contemporary Art² which received mostly positive reviews in
the international press but divided opinion in Beijing.

The UCCA press office downplayed the staffing changes, saying that
Dawei¹s original remit was only ever to be ³instrumental in setting
up the centre as a museum.²

However when Dawei was presented to the press at the opening of the
museum last November he was described as UCCA¹s full-time, long-term
artistic director. Mr Dawei could not be reached for comment,
however, sources in Beijing say that Mr Dawei¹s disagreements with
his colleagues are believed to be behind his change in role.

Jérôme Sans is a distinguished figure in the contemporary art world
but his appointment will leave UCCA open to criticism that there are
no senior Chinese members of staff at the institution (deputy
director Colin Chinnery is half British).

Born in 1960, Mr Sans has worked for the Milwaukee Institute of
Visual Arts and helped establish the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in
2002. Most recently, he served as Programme Director at the Baltic
arts centre in Gateshead, England, but stepped down last July after
just 14 months in the role.

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