Jens Hoffmann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the German director, writer and cinematographer, see Jens Hoffmann (filmmaker).
Jens Hoffmann
Jens Hoffmann.png
Jens Hoffmann, San Francisco, May 1, 2012
Born (1974-04-01) 1 April 1974 (age 40)
San Jose, Costa Rica
Occupation Writer and curator
Employer The Jewish Museum, New York

Jens Hoffmann Mesèn is a writer and exhibition maker. He currently is Deputy Director of The Jewish Museum in New York, where he oversees exhibitions, collections, and public programs. He has curated more than 50 exhibitions internationally and written more than 200 texts on art and exhibition making.


From 2002 to 2006 Hoffmann was the director of exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and from 2007 to 2012 director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. Hoffmann started his museum career as an intern at Portikus Kunsthalle Frankfurt (1995), followed by a two year long stint as exhibitions assistant at the Dia Art Foundation, New York (1995-97). He worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as an assistant curator from 1998 to 2000. From 2001 to 2002 Hoffmann worked as a curator at the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf.

Since 2006 Hoffmann has been senior advisor for the Kadist Art Foundation based in Paris and San Francisco, for which he has assembled the 101 Collection with artworks by artists from the West Coast of the United States, as well as El Sur, featuring artworks of emerging artists from Latin America. Both collections merged in 2014 to form the Americana collection.

He is currently organizing Camera of Wonders bringing together photographic works from the Kadist Art Foundation as well as from La Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel (CIAC), Mexico City. The exhibition will tour in Latin America in 2015 and 2016.

Since 2012 he has been senior adjunct curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, his exhibition The Past Is Present opened in September 2013. In February 2014 he co-curated, with Triple Candie, I Cancel All My Works At Death, the first comprehensive survey of the actions and performances of James Lee Byars. Forthcoming exhibitions organized by Hoffmann at MOCA Detroit include The People's Biennial 2014 (co-curated with Harrell Fletcher), opening in September 2014, Detroit City, opening in September 2014, as well as Working Class, opening in late 2015.

Since 2013 he is Curator for Special Programs and a member of the selection committee of New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, New York.

Together with Edoardo Bonaspetti, Andrea Lissoni, and Filipa Ramos, Hoffmann developed, an online platform offering screenings of films and videos directed by visual artists and filmmakers.

Based on Jean-Pierre Melville's Association des Cinématographie Indépendants (ACI), Hoffmann founded the Association des Conservateurs Indépendants (ACI) (Association of Independent Curators) in 2008, he is the only member. He was an original member of the Union of the Imaginary (VOTI), the first online network for curators (1998-2000).


Hoffmann was co-curator of the 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012-2013) the inaugural exhibition of the Power Station of Art, China's first public contemporary art museum.

He curated, with Adriano Pedrosa, the 12th Istanbul Biennial in 2011.

With Harrell Fletcher, and organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), he curated the People's Biennial 2010, of which the first edition was presented at five U.S. museums; the second edition will be presented at MOCA Detroit in 2014.

He co-curated the 2nd San Juan Triennial in Puerto Rico in 2009, was a guest curator of the 9th Lyon Biennial in 2007 and participated in Manifesta 4 in Frankfurt in 2002. He co-curated the 1st Berlin Biennial in 1998, serving as assistant curator and artistic coordinator with Klaus Biesenbach, Nancy Spector, and Hans Ulrich Obrist. In 1999 he organized, with Maurizio Cattelan, the 9th Caribbean Biennial in St. Kitts.

Curatorial Approach[edit]

Hoffmann's training in theater exerts a great influence on his curatorial efforts. Of key importance in all of his exhibitions is the staging of the experience, from the design of the installation to the conceptualization of the catalogue, the related programming, and the "performances" of the artworks themselves. The stage set of the exhibition space, site, or geographical location is itself an important factor in the development of his ideas, which respond to both time and place. Hoffmann takes into account the larger historical and sociopolitical context in which an exhibition is happening as well as the relevant curatorial and art historical relationships.

A defining characteristic of Hoffmann's work is his conception of an authorial role for the curator, as well as applying the ideas and strategies of artists (in particular Conceptual art) to his curatorial efforts. His unique approach has resulted in a highly personal exhibition history that reflects a creative development not dissimilar to that of an artist.

Hoffmann has been closely associated with the work of artists such as Tino Sehgal, Ryan Gander, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Simon Fujiwara, Mario Gracia Torres, Claire Fontaine, Harrell Fletcher, Abraham Cuzvillegas, Annette Kelm, Rivane Neuenschwander, Marepe, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Cerith Wyn Evans, Yinka Shonibare, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Martha Rosler, Kirsten Pieroth, John Bock, Jonathan Monk, Kris Martin John Baldessari, Luisa Lambri, Roman Ondak, Tim Lee, and Paul McCarthy.

Journals and Magazines[edit]

In 2009 Hoffmann founded The Exhibitionist: A Journal on Exhibition Making, distributed by MIT Press, which has advocated the author theory as developed specifically by François Truffaut in his 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" ("A certain tendency in French cinema") and adapted Truffaut's ideas to the sphere of exhibition making.

Hoffmann has been editor-at-large for Mousse magazine since 2011 and is a frequent contributor to Frieze and Artforum. He has written for Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, DOMUS, Critique d'Arts, and was a columnist for Purple (magazine) from 2001 to 2003 as well as a correspondent for Flash Art from 2002 to 2007.

Books and Publications[edit]

Hoffmann has written and edited over three dozen books and exhibition publications. His most recent books include Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating (Mousse Publishing, 2013), The Studio (for the MIT Press series Documents of Contemporary Art and Whitechapel Gallery, 2012), The Next Documenta Should Be Curated by An Artist (ed.) (Revolver, 2004), and Perform (co-authored with Joan Jonas, Thames & Hudson, 2005). Hoffmann was also co-author of Vitamin P2 (2011); Vitamin 3D (2009); Cream 4 (2007); and Vitamin PH (2006) all published by Phaidon, London.

Show Time, a history of exhibitions from 1990 to the present, was published by Thames & Hudson in March 2014. The Theater of Exhibitions will be published by Sternberg Press in late 2014. Hoffmann's Curating (From A to Z) for JRP|Ringier to be published in late 2014.


Hoffmann was an adjunct professor at the Nova Academia di Bella Arti in Milan (2004 - 2013) and was an associate professor at the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts in San Francisco (2006-2012).

From 2003 to 2009 he was a senior lecturer at the MFA in Curating Program at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2001 Hoffmann was adjunct professor at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.

Hoffmann conceived and organized the 2010 MIT Max Wasserman Forum titled Parody, Politics, and Performativity, which included presentations by artists Tino Sehgal, Tania Bruguera, Joan Joans and Claire Fontaine as well as art historians Dorothea von Hantelmann and Frazer Ward.

He has taught seminars at art schools and universities such as: School of Visual Arts, Braunschweig (2002); University of the Arts, Berlin (2002); Concordia University, Montreal (2002); Royal Art Academy, Stockholm (2002 & 2004); Center for Curatorial Studies/Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (2003, 2010, 2011); Royal College of Arts, London (2004, 2005 & 2009); Escola De Artes Visuais Do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro (2003); Art Center Pasadena, Los Angeles (2004); Art History Department of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow (2005); Otis College for Art and Design, Los Angeles, (2005); California Arts Institute, Los Angeles (2005); University of Leeds, Leeds (2006); School for Art Theory and Practice, Budapest (2006); Ruskin School of Fine Arts, Oxford University (2008); Roski School of Fine Arts at University of Southern California, Los Angeles (2008); University of British Columbia, Vancouver (2009).

In 2012 Hoffmann was visiting professor and course leader of the 4th Gwangju Biennale Curatorial Course.

Education and Early Theater Work[edit]

Hoffmann trained as a theater director and studied stage directing, dramaturgy, with Andrea Breth and Manfred Karge as well as cultural sociology with Wolfgang Engler at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin. He holds an MA from DasArts: School for Advanced Research in Theater and Dance Studies at the Amsterdam School for the Arts where he studied under the Dutch theater pioneer Ritsaert ten Cate. Hoffmann staged and directed a number of productions at the Berliner Arbeiter-Theater bat (Berlin Workers' Theater) including fragments and adaptations of works by Nikolai Gogol, William Shakespeare, Heiner Müller and Alexander Ostrovsky. His final production at the bat was Oscar Night written by Rene Pollesch.

From 1993 to 1995 Hoffmann worked as an assistant dramaturg under Tom Stromberg at the Theater Am Turm (TAT) in Frankfurt where he worked on productions of such directors as Rene Pollesch, Stefan Pucher, Reza Abdoh, Needcompany, Michael Laub, Jan Fabre, Baktruppen, Gob Squad and Heiner Goebbels. With Stromberg Hoffmann organized Theater Outlines the performing arts program of Documenta X in Kassel (1997). From 1995 to 1996 Hoffmann was a curatorial associate at Performance Space 122, New York.

Exhibition Chronology[edit]

In 2011 Hoffmann curated BLOCKBUSTER: Cinema for Exhibitions, produced by La Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel (CIAC), Mexico City, the largest touring exhibition of film and video art organized in Latin America to date. BLOCKBUSTER has been presented at: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO) (2011), Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City (2012); Museo de Arte de Sonora (MUSAS) (2012); Museo de Arte de Sinaloa (MASIN) (2013); Museo AROCENA, Torreón (2013) and the Museo de Arte de Zapopan (MAZ) (2013).

In 2007 Hoffmann founded the Museum of Modern Art and Western Antiquities, for which he curated the exhibition Section III, Department of Pigments on Surface: Very Abstract and Hyper Figurative at the Thomas Dane Gallery in London. His second exhibition for the museum Section IV, Department of Light Recordings: Lens Drawings, opened in 2013 at Marian Goodman Gallery in Paris. Hoffmann is developing an exhibition for Section II, Department of Carving and Modeling, which will take place in 2019.

In 2000 Hoffmann co-curated, with Barbara Vanderlinden, and organized by Roommade- Office for Contemporary Art, Indiscipline, as part of Brussels 2000 Cultural Capital of Europe, a series of talks, lectures, and performances exploring interdisciplinary links among science, art, political theory, and architecture though the spoken word. From 2001 to 2002 Hoffmann worked as a curator at the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, where he organized SPECTACULAR: The Art of Action, a yearlong examination of the relationship between performance art and the museum's collection, with various stagings and actions taking place throughout the museum.

In 2014 Hoffmann's exhibition No Such Thing As History: Four Collections and One Artist inaugurated the new Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in Munich.

Museum and Exhibition Affiliations[edit]

Hoffmann has worked for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Dia Art Foundation New York; Documenta X, Kassel, Germany; Portikus]], Frankfurt, Germany; Laboratorium, Antwerp, Belgium; and the Theater Am Turm (TAT), Frankfurt, Germany.

He has curated exhibitions for Kiasma - Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Ireland; Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany; Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Roomade—Office for Contemporary Art, Brussels; Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro; IASPIS, Stockholm; Basis voor Actuele Kunst (BAK), Utrecht, the Netherlands; Museum in Progress, Vienna; the Vancouver Art Gallery; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Manchester Art Gallery, England; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; ArtPace, San Antonio; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown; California Museum of Photography, Riverside and others.


2013 7th Annual AAC Art China Exhibition Award: 9th Shanghai Biennial Best Exhibition of the Year

2010 ACAX, Budapest; Japan Foundation, Tokyo

2009 Creative New Zealand; Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement (Nomination), The Menil Collection, Houston

2008 International Cultural Visits Program Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

2006 Tranzit, Prague

2005 OCA—Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo

2004 Goethe Institute, Munich

2003 Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam

2002 DCA—Danish Contemporary Art Foundation, Copenhagen; Canada Art Council, Ottawa

2001 AFAA—Assciation Française d’Action Artistique, Paris; NIFCA—Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, Helsinki

2000 IASPIS—International Artists’ Studio Program in Sweden, Stockholm

Gallery Work[edit]

Hoffmann also organized a number of exhibitions for commercial galleries such as Sean Kelly, New York (1997); Klosterfelde, Berlin (1999 and 2006); Casey Kaplan, New York (2003); Christina Guerra, Lisbon (2007); Thomas Dane, London (2007); Luisa Strina, São Paulo (2008); Kurimanzuto, Mexico City (2010); Johnen Galerie, Berlin (2011); 303, New York (2012); Marian Goodman, Paris (2013) .

From 2003 to 2012 he worked as a curator for Art Basel, for which he conceived and organized the annual programs Art Perform (2003-2007), Art on Stage (2008 & 2009) and Art Parcours (2010-2012).