The two curators applied for the vacancy as a duo and will take up their position as heads of the new Amsterdam space on December 1, 2022.
Curator, programmer, writer and researcher Rita Ouédraogo and curator Azu Nwagbogu are going to be the first curators for the newly founded multidisciplinary space Buro Stedelijk. They applied for the vacancy as a duo and will start per 1 December 2022.
In July, 2022, Buro Stedelijk was announced, conceived as an initiative of the Stedelijk Museum in close collaboration with de Rijksakademie and De Ateliers, with the aim to bridge the missing link between the studio practices, academic training programs, the galleries into close dialogue with the museum. Buro Stedelijk is conceived as a multidisciplinary space, with a focus on the production process, fuelled by the creative scene in Amsterdam, with an international dimension. A place where curators, artists and other makers have the freedom to create and present new work and which will give fresh impetus to contemporary cultural production in Amsterdam.
Rita Ouédraogo is a curator, programmer, writer and researcher, and was curator and program coordinator at Framer Framed in Amsterdam. She was Research Programmer and (Community) Collaboration Officer at the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC) of the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, Wereldmuseum and Afrika Museum in the Netherlands. Ouédraogo holds a MSc in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam and worked on various projects aimed at making museum collections more widely accessible, as well as on projects outside of institutional structures. Her work is informed by her interest in African diaspora, decolonizing institutions, institutional racism, popular culture and social issues. She researches questions related to cooperation and solidarity that explores modes of collaborative practices across power differentials, especially within a decolonial framework.
Azu Nwagbogu is an internationally acclaimed curator, interested in evolving new models of engagement with questions of decolonization, restitution, and repatriation. In his practice, the exhibition becomes an experimental site for reflection, civic engagement, ecology and repatriation – both tangible and symbolic. Nwagbogu’s primary interest is in reinventing the idea of the museum and its role as a civic space for engagement for society at large. In 2021 he was awarded the title of ‘Curator of Year 2021’ by the British Royal Photographic Society and ArtReview included him among the hundred most influential people in the art world. In 2007, Nwagbogu founded the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) in Lagos, Nigeria, which organizes exhibitions, festivals, competitions, residencies and workshops in the field of contemporary art. In 2018 and 2019 he directed the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town, South Africa. Nwagbogu is also founder and director of the annual LagosPhoto Festival and a jury member of many international photo awards. He also initiated Art Base Africa, a virtual place to discover contemporary African art. Nwagbogu wrote an essay for the Stedelijk about the work of Raquel van Haver in the publication accompanying her solo exhibition in 2018.
Rita Ouédraogo and Azu Nwagbogu: “We believe that the present and future of the art world requires deeper collaborative practices and we wish to set the examples ourselves. We both come from different parts of the world, different generations and varying expertise. However, these different departure points are bound by our passion and our interest in the value of the labour of art and artists and their relevance for the twenty-first century. We believe in the urgency and power of art and in presenting and cultivating new ideas for the world at this time, perhaps more so than at any point in human history. We aim to go beyond institutional critique into offering new models for social discourse that address the planet’s most urgent contemporary sociopolitical challenges. Our plan is to create opportunities that really support the idea of a multi-dimensional multi-cultural city and also support artists from all over the world who are living and working in Amsterdam by offering them an experimental project space to realize and articulate their ideas.”
Rein Wolfs, director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “The selection of Rita Ouédraogo and Azu Nwagbogu as the first curators of Buro Stedelijk emphasizes in every respect the exceptional position of the Stedelijk as an international museum for Amsterdam and the world. This positioning is not only reflected in the museum’s regular programming, but from the outset the new Buro Stedelijk will also present the local in a broad international perspective and bring the international to Amsterdam, as is, for example, deeply embedded in the DNA of the Rijksakademie and De Ateliers, our partners in this project. With their broad vision and dynamic ideas, these curators will be able to give the Amsterdam art world new impulses.”