Charles Esche is director of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, professor of contemporary art and curating at Central Saint Martins, UAL, London and co-director of Afterall Journal and Books. He teaches on the Exhibition Studies MRes course at CSM, and at Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. Outside the museum, amongst other international exhibitions he (co) curated Power and Other Things, Europalia, BOZAR, Brussels 1017; Art Turns, Word Turns; Museum MACAN, Jakarta 2017; Le Musée Égaré, Kunsthall Oslo 2017 and Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse 2016; Jakarta Biennale 2015; 31st Sao Paulo Bienal, 2014; U3 Triennale, Ljubljana, 2011; RIWAQ Biennale, Palestine, 2007 and 2009; Istanbul Biennale, 2005; Gwangju Biennale, 2002. He is chair of CASCO, Utrecht. He received the 2012 Princess Margriet Award and the 2014 CCS Bard College Prize for Curatorial Excellence.
Possibilities of decolonial thinking
Seminar with Charles Esche
Decolonial theory as developed over the past 15-20 years has recently seen a huge surge in interest. While some of this interest has simply been fashionable, decoloniality does seem to provide a useful description of some aspects of our current condition. In particular, it addresses the virulence of universalist assumptions in much western theory and questions the reliability of thinking from and through the West, however critically. The development of the idea of coloniality or the colonial matrix of power is also a useful tool in avoiding some of the divisive and essentialising discussions around identity politics without reverting to a white supremacist position. In particular, it perceives possibility in the communal as a way to think beyond the divisions of human-human; human-animal; human-earth.
In the seminar with WHW Akademija participants Charles Esche presented his view on the possibilities that decolonial thinking can bring to organizations like Modern and Contemporary Art Museums using the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven as a concrete example and critical case study.