Curatorial Studies

Portrait of Karen Archey by Tomek Dersu Aaron

Curatorial Lectures: Karen Archey

Curating as Institutional Leadership

04.02.2021, 20:00



Each academic year, S.M.A.K., Ghent University, and Curatorial Studies at KASK & Conservatorium School of Arts co-organise the Curatorial Lectures series presented by renowned curatorial practitioners in relation to a specific theme. Following ‘Working with Artists’ (2017-18), ‘Learning from Artists’ (2018-19), ‘Working with Collections’ (2019-20), this year's series revolves around ‘Working with Space’ (2020-21).

Curatorial Lectures is a lecture series co-organised by S.M.A.K. and the Curatorial Studies postgraduate programme at KASK & Conservatorium in Ghent, Belgium.

In this lecture Karen Archey will discuss her exhibition “After Institutions” at the Stedelijk, which has indefinitely been postponed due to COVID-19. The point of departure of the exhibition was to explore the state of public institutions, their economic degradation, and the role of the art institution as the last vestige of intellectual public space and a space for assembly. One of the key topics of the exhibition was the notion of care, both in terms of the constantly devolving state of the health care industry throughout the West and its relationship to institutions and the idea of the artist being a "producer" who must be healthy and able enough to be able to "produce," and participate in the field. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the story of the exhibition has only become more complex as pre-existing issues of the weakened welfare state have gotten worse, and the ability to assemble has become further under threat.


Karen Archey is Curator of Contemporary Art at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She is an American curator and art critic formerly based in Berlin and New York. At the Stedelijk, Archey is responsible for the contemporary art and time-based media collections. Since joining the museum in 2017, Archey has organized solo exhibitions by artists Rineke Dijkstra, Stefan Tcherepnin, Catherine Christer Hennix, Steffani Jemison, Jeff Preiss, and Metahaven, as well as the group exhibition Freedom of Movement: the 2018 Municipal Art Acquisitions. She is currently working toward solo exhibitions by artists Charlotte Prodger and Hito Steyerl. She heads Stedelijk’s research initiative on the acquisition and documentation of time-based media. Archey previously worked as an independent curator and editor for the New York-based organization e-flux. In 2014, she organized with Robin Peckham the exhibition “Art Post-Internet” at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. In 2015, Archey was awarded a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for short-form writing. She frequently lectures on contemporary art and time-based media.

Karen Archey: After Institutions