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The Chefs – contributors’ biographies

by Clare Butcher

Charles Esche (born 1962) is a curator, writer, and director of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Since 2000, Esche has (co)-curated numerous international exhibitions including (selection): Heartland, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2008-2009); Once is Nothing (co-organized with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht), Brussels Biennale 1, Brussels, 2008; Becoming Dutch, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2007-2008; Forms of Resistance, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2007; Riwaq Biennial, Ramallah, 2007; 9th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2005; the project Cork Caucus, Cork, 2005; Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, 2002; and Amateur: Variable Research Initiatives, Göteborg, 2000. He is co-founder of Afterall Journal and Books, based at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London and CalArts, Los Angeles. In addition to co-editing (with Maria Hlavajova and Rosi Braidotti) the critical reader Citizens and Subjects: The Netherlands, for example (2007), Esche has written for numerous catalogs and magazines and published an edited volume of his writings in Turkish and English, Modest Proposals (2005). Esche lives and works in Eindhoven and Edinburgh.

Steven ten Thije (born 1980) is researcher who holds an MA in both Art History and Philosophy. He previously taught art theory at the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Ten Thije is currently working on a PhD at the Hildesheim University, Hildesheim, supported by the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. His doctoral research focuses on the development of collection display in museums for modern and contemporary art in the second half of the twentieth century. In relation to this research, he also functions as a research curator for Play Van Abbe, a large exhibition program starting in November 2009. In addition, ten Thije is a thesis supervisor at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. He has written articles for journals such as De Witte Raaf and has contributed to other catalogs and art publications, such as the book Once Is Nothing. Individual Systems (part of the joint contribution of the Van Abbemuseum and BAK to the Brussels Biennial in 2008). Ten Thije lives and works in Amsterdam and Eindhoven.

Clare Butcher seeks to converge the art of curating with the art of cooking. The rest of her time has been spent studying art history at the University of Cape Town, as curator at the Centre for African Studies in Cape Town and assisting Magnum photographer, Mikhael Subotzky. In 2008 Clare worked as a guest curator at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL) and in 2009 she completed the de Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam (NL). She is now back at the Van Abbemuseum and about to publish a book of the non-lecture series, The Usual Suspects, while also curating independent exhibitions, editing, and writing for a few art journals.

Kerstin Niemann lives and works in Eindhoven (NL) and Hamburg (D)
Since 2006 guest curator at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL) with projects such as “Academy. Learning from the Museum” and “your-space” (
From 2000 on worked for several institutions and exhibition projects, e.g. assistant of Saskia Bos at the 2nd berlin biennial and curatorial intern of the Rubell Family Collection in Miami
Publishes and writes: Gastfreundschaft. Stipendiatenstätten und ihre Angebote” (Halle für Kunst Lüneburg e.V.), “Floating World – das Burning Man Festival” and “As if by magic” (Art Centre South Florida, Miami) … Founder of the project platform “FILTER”

Remco de Blaaij is a cultural producer and artist based in Eindhoven. In 2007 he completed his BA studies in Fine Art, St Joost, Breda and started an internship at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in the Be[com]ing Dutch project where Remco has been working with artists like Phil Collins, Wendelien van Oldenburgh, Bik van der Pol, and Surasi Kusolwong. From 2000 Remco has been organizing several Virus Festival and Lijm Festival in Eindhoven.

Ivet Reyes Maturano is a  PhD candidate in anthropology in McGill. She is interested in the issues of cultural change, migration, and engaging art as a means to build new cross-border communities. She was born and raised in Mexico City where she graduated at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia. In 2007 she received her MA in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam in Holland and worked as curatorial assistant in the large artistic project, Be(com)ing Dutch, led by Annie Fletcher and Charles Esche at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. Earlier this year, Ivet served as Hub Fellow at the New Museum in New York City and in the summer she travelled to Chicago to continue her research work in collaboration with Theaster Gates (

Gemma Medina Estupiñan is an independent researcher and curator based in Eindhoven. She has a Master Degree in Art History and a PhD in Contemporary Art History (Photography of Architecture, 2012). Her professional practice comprehends independent research, writing and curatorial practices combining her focus in Photography of architecture and Contemporary Art dealing with the social. As curator, she is interested in art practices and society, furthermore the uses of art, participating in projects that fall outside the standard artistic discourse, bringing art out of the box and trying to reach non-specialized audiences. She has collaborated as independent researcher and assistant curator at the Van Abbemuseum in diverse research and speculative projects as Be(com)ing Dutch and Play Van Abbe I. Since 2012, she have been working in close collaboration with Tania Bruguera and Queens Museum (NY) leading a deep research to build the Arte Útil Archive that was the core of the exhibition The Museum of Arte Útil were she co-curated the public program. Now she is part of the Arte Útil Association and keeps working as independent researcher and curator in different projects that face the relation between Arte Útil and social practices with city.

Galit Eilat is a writer, curator and the founding director of The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon. She is co-editor in chief of Maarav – an online arts and culture magazine. She is also a research curator at Van Abbemuseum and an academic advisor to the curatorial programme at the Technion Extension, Institute of Technology Israel.

Nick Aikens is a curator and writer based in Eindhoven and is currently Assistant Curator at the Van Abbemuseum. He has BA and MA degrees from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and has curated independent exhibitions, most recently at the Pump House Gallery in London (‘What shall we do with the Pump House?’, 2011). Nick also works on International projects for Outset Contemporary Art Fund, a UK based art foundation that brings private support to public art institutions and projects. He is a regular contributor to frieze magazine.

Willem Jan Renders (1955) studied art history at Utrecht University and in Florence and Rome. After working in museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen and in the Kunsthal  in Rotterdam he has worked in different functions in the Van Abbemuseum since 1996. Currently he works there both as a curator for Russian Art and as writer/editor.

Alessandra Saviotti The reflection and practice of Alessandra Saviotti’s (b. 1982, IT) work centers on participatory and collaborative processes according to the motto: ‘Collaboration is better than competition’. Her projects actively involve the public and ordinary space gains new value due to the temporary incursion of art. Saviotti is co-founder of the art collective Aspra.mente (2006) which focuses on the conception of interdisciplinary and ‘agri-cultural’ projects that mainly deal with the social and cultural contexts of the site where the artworks are displayed. Since 2009, with curator Marianna Liosi, Saviotti has been investigating the notion of crisis (both in terms of economy, cultural and environment), its relationship between the local context and effects on the artists’ work. In 2013 she was researcher and assistant curator at The Museum of Arte Útil, a project initiated by artist Tania Bruguera in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Queens Museum, NY, and in 2014 she completed the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL). Now she is working as independent curator between Italy and the Netherlands.

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