Charles Esche

Van Abbemuseum director and stalwart of the biennial circuit

One thing’s for certain: Charles Esche gets around. As the director of Eindhoven’s Van Abbemuseum since 2004 and cofounder of Afterall Journal, he has simultaneously found time to curate numerous biennials. His most recent undertaking was the 2015–16 Jakarta Biennale, Neither Forward nor Back. Esche described how the exhibition’s focus was ‘on the here and now and the responses of artists to the social, political and economic conditions in which they find themselves’. Typical of Esche’s interest in socially relevant practices, his broader research involves ‘rethinking centres and museums of contemporary art as public spaces that show us the power and value of art in engaging with society’, having previously been director at Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art in Malmö, Sweden, and Tramway, Glasgow.