Hirshhorn Announces Mark Beasley as Inaugural Curator of Media and Performance Art

By Editorial Team on December 5, 2016

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announces the appointment of Dr. Mark Beasley as the institution’s first Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar, Curator of Media and Performance Art as of Nov. 28. Serving under the leadership of Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu and Chief Curator Stéphane Aquin, Beasley is responsible for organizing exhibitions and enhancing the museum’s pioneering collection of new media art, including film, video and performance.

“As one of the first contemporary art museums in the country to place significant resources around the acquisition of new media artwork, we are proud to further that commitment by establishing a full-time curatorial position dedicated to this emerging and rapidly evolving genre of art,” said Chiu. “Mark Beasley is one of the few experts of his kind, and as one of the leading curators of our time, his work has helped to shape this field over the past fifteen years.”

For more than a decade the Hirshhorn has demonstrated a unique commitment to artists making experimental and new media art. In 2005, the Hirshhorn inaugurated its Black Box series, a rotating exhibition space dedicated solely to the moving image, which has since featured a diverse program of recent work by established and emerging artists from around the world, including Francis Alÿs (2006), Jesper Just (2006), Takeshi Murata (2007), Kimsooja (2008), Laurent Grasso (2011), Sergio Caballero (2015) and Ragnar Kjartansson (2014), who is the subject of a survey exhibition at the Hirshhorn through Jan. 8, 2017. In February 2016, the Hirshhorn debuted “Suspended Animation,” featuring six artists who use digitally-generated images to address conceptions of reality, including Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten and Agnieszka Polska. In the past year, the museum has also acquired significant new media works by Kjartansson, Just, Atkins, Shirin Neshat and Hito Steyerl.

Generous support for this position is provided by Robert and Arlene Kogod, Washington philanthropists and art collectors. Robert Kogod is also a member of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents. Their gift supports the Secretary’s Scholars, a Smithsonian-wide initiative launched by Secretary David Skorton this year, which seeks to accelerate the institution’s global impact by funding the next generation of intellectual leaders. In addition to this position at the Hirshhorn, the Kogods have supported four other Secretarial Scholars across the Smithsonian Institution.

“As new technologies play an increasingly larger role in our daily lives, they also allow for an unprecedented scope in artistic output,” said Stéphane Aquin, Chief Curator. “I am pleased to have the opportunity to work alongside Mark Beasley to strengthen the Hirshhorn’s exploration of today’s new art forms and its expanding impact on 21st-century culture.”

Formerly a curator at the British Council in London and Creative Time in New York, Beasley most recently served as a curator of Performa, a multidisciplinary non-profit arts organization dedicated to live performance. While there, he commissioned and curated projects by artists such as Mike Kelley, Lawrence Weiner, Arto Lindsay, Mark Leckey, Florian Hecker, Heather Phillipson and Frances Stark. He has also served as a curatorial advisor to the inaugural Okayama Art Summit (2016), as a guest curator for the Sunday Sessions Greater New York performance program at MoMA PS1 (2015) and as a curator of a series of performances held in conjunction with the Mike Kelley retrospective at MoMA/PS1 (2011). In addition, he founded the Malcolm McLaren Awardfor Performa.

(via Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Photo: Darren Hall.)