(15-nov-23) The Board of Kunsthalle Bern announces the appointment of iLiana Fokianaki as its new Director. Fokianaki brings a wide range of experience as a curator, writer, theorist, and founding director of State of Concept, an independent art institution in Athens, Greece. She will begin her tenure in spring 2024 following the directorship of Kabelo Malatsie which concludes in February 2024.
On behalf of the seven-member selection committee, the co-presidents of Kunsthalle Bern’s Board, Lorenza Donati and Benjamin Dodell, were delighted to find in iLiana Fokianaki a Director whose experience at the intersections of curatorial practice and societal change will serve Kunsthalle Bern well in the coming years.
iLiana Fokianaki reacted to her appointment by stating that “I am thrilled to have been chosen to lead Kunsthalle Bern and I envision its pivotal role in fostering a shift around what it means to ‘institute’ in the concurrent ecological, social, and political crises...of our time.”
The selection committee was impressed by Fokianaki’s curatorial expertise and her self-reflective, multi-disciplinary approach to contemporary artistic and curatorial practice and discourse. Her proposal of a multi-year programme which borrows from ecological theory, actively engaging artists, the team, the wider public, various stakeholders, and communities in the city of Bern and beyond was most fitting. They went on to state that “she has the practical experience, network and critical awareness to bring a curatorial and managerial approach to Kunsthalle Bern that is informed and nourished by her long-standing practice, engagement and organizing work.”
iLiana Fokianaki is a curator, theorist, and educator. She has a compelling record of group and solo exhibitions and research projects in institutions worldwide. As the director of State of Concept, she has changed the landscape of the Athens art scene, bringing to the city exhibitions of artists such as Forensic Architecture, Kader Attia, Kapwani Kiwanga, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Laure Prouvost, Sanja Iveković and others. She is the founder of research platform ‘The Bureau of Care’ that has been foregrounding conversations around the politics and ethics of care since 2020. She has curated exhibitions for international institutions such as Museo Reina Sofia Madrid, e-flux New York, Kunstinstituut Melly and others and has curated public programmes for Vera List Center for Art and Politics New York a.o. She has taught in academies, independent spaces, museums, and foundations worldwide and publishes regularly in journals such as e-flux and Frieze.
Fokianaki’s tenure follows Kabelo Malatsie’s directorship. Malatsie’s curatorial practice has questioned the fixity of hierarchical and authoritative approaches to artistic and institutional practice by inviting a range of artistic practitioners to create moving experiential and spatial installations. In so doing, Malatsie has challenged art historical and canonical notions of art or indeed exhibitions as stable categories, through a series of solo and group shows featuring, among others, Ivana Franke, Rahima Gambo, Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Lantian Xie, Jackie Karuti, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Tabita Rezaire and Bogosi Sekhukhuni. Notably, the curatorial research project titled “7 Winds” ran parallel to the solo exhibitions over fourteen months, including installations, sound and performance-based works curated by Malatsie, Julia Künzi and Camilla Paolino.
Malatsie’s final exhibition at Kunsthalle Bern will open in mid-February 2024. The Board and the team of Kunsthalle Bern wish to express their thanks and profound appreciation to Kabelo Malatsie both for bringing such a range of artistic perspectives, practices, questions, and locations to bear on the institution’s imagination, as well as for her deeply thoughtful, precise, and dedicated stewardship of the Kunsthalle.