Through his career, Chris Dercon, 52, has pushed the boundaries contemporary art. Born in Belgium, he studied art history and film theory. He was a curator at New York’s PS 1, Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and is currently director of the Haus Der Kunst, Germany’s most innovative museum for contemporary art.
In Munich, he has not only commissioned a number of original film-based works, but has pushed the program to include collaborations with fashion designer Martin Margiela, and the space to include the exterior of the building, which last year Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei covered with thousands of book bags, a commentary on the May 2008 Sichuan quake and the high number of dead school children.
In the spring of 2011, Dercon becomes director of London’s Tate Modern, arguably the world’s foremost contemporary art museum. An edit of our recent Q&A over the phone:
ALEXANDRA A. SENO: What is the place of film in museums?
CHRIS DERCON: The question that the famous film theorician Béla Balázs asked in the 1950s: “Where is cinema?” That question can now be answered: the cinema is everywhere. Also in museums. Because there are no film funds in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, getting support of museums and galleries is almost a normal procedure for many filmmakers like (Taiwan’s) Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang, (China’s) Wang Bing, (Indonesia’s) Garin Nugroho, (India’s) Amar Kanwar, (Thailand’s) Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In their approach of the image, their work can transcend different formats and one of them is in video museum installation. More and more museums not only have “solar wings” – daylight structures, but also “lunar wings” – artificial nighttime structures because there are more and more projections in museums.