What did they say about Subversion to Red _ Charles Esche

educativo / fundação bienal


Nada Prlja’s exhibition had a heart that was lacking for me in the central pavilion. The works engaged a personal history that also had impact on our current society. The end of socialism was captured formally in the sculptures and photographs, works that combined perfectly with the slightly decayed spaces of the Venetian palazzo. At the same time, the nature of the work always suggested the capacity of recycling the ideas locked up within them, as the works felt already recycled themselves. In this way, the works contain both a past and a potential future. They serve as carriers of memory and meaning, awaiting potential release from their half-formed present condition. In this way, Nada captures a feeling of loss and return that haunts Europe at many levels today – on both the left and the right.


Charles Esche is a Professor at the University of the Arts London, a museum director, a curator and a researcher. He has a BA in Mediaeval Studies and an MA in Gallery and Museum Studies from The University of Manchester. He is the director of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands since 2004 and the co-director and founder with Mark Lewis of Afterall Research Centre in Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London since 1998.

Esche has curated a large variety of international large-scale and museum exhibitions. His most recent projects include, Le Musée Égaré in Kunsthall Oslo (2017), Power and Other Things in Bozar Brussels together with Riksa Afiaty (2017) and the NSK State Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2017). Other large-scale shows include the Jakarta Biennale (2015); the 31st Sao Paulo Bienal (2014), with a team of seven; the U3 Triennale, Ljubljana, with Zdenka Badovinac (2011); the RIWAQ Biennale, Palestine, with Reem Fadda (2007 and 2009); the Istanbul Biennale with Vasif Kortun (2005); the Gwangju Biennale with Hou Hanru (2002); among many others. 

Esche is a lecturer on the MRes Art: Exhibition Studies course at Central Saint Martins and a guest lecturer on various other academic programs including De Appel Curatorial Course in Amsterdam, the Design Academy Eindhoven in Eindhoven and at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. He is a board member of Sonsbeek International and chair of CASCO—Office for Art, Design, and Theory in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

In 2012 he was awarded the Princess Margriet Award for Cultural Change by the European Cultural Foundation. In 2013 he obtained the Minumum Prize by the Pistoletto Foundation, and in 2014 he was awarded the CCS Bard College Prize for Curatorial Excellence.

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