Perhaps never before has an appointment of a museum director in Catalonia aroused so much joy and so many positive reactions on social networks as those that since the night of July 15 are turning to Elvira Dyangani Ose, after knowing that it will be the brand new maxim rector of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (Macba), the first woman in the position in the 26 years of life of the center. “He is a very curious, empathetic, active and enthusiastic person, eager to meet. He has been forging himself internationally, working conscientiously and continuously immersing himself in the art scene from a singular discourse. I think it was an unexpected and very positive choice, which could lead the Macba to new scenarios and not so hackneyed speeches “, assures commissioner Frederic Montornés, giving voice to a widely disseminated opinion in the sector about this woman born in 1974, in Córdoba, from a family from Equatorial Guinea.
Dyangani, who will have his first public presentation in Barcelona on July 22, received the news in London, where since 2018 he has directed The Showroom Gallery, a prestigious art center founded in 1983, focused on collaborative practices and the promotion of young British artists in the English capital. The new director, who is by all accounts practically unanimous in favor of the arts community, will take office on September 1, so there will be a smooth and relaxed handover with her predecessor Ferran Barenblit, who led the Macba for the last few six years. In September, Barenblit will join the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he will give classes on art and politics in Spain since the Transition and will carry out research on the museum and the new institutions.
For his part, Dyangani awaits intense work: reinforcing the links between the museum and the city, based on the peculiarities of the Raval neighborhood, involving new segments of the public in the programming, and reestablishing the museum’s leadership as a unifying institution. of the various centers, public and private, that are dedicated to contemporary art in Catalonia. This is without counting the expansion process that the museum is facing, which will begin with the tenders for the works at the beginning of 2022 and, after about 18 months of work, it should be inaugurated at the end of 2023. In this regard, the museum highlighted that the incorporation of Dyangani coincides with “a period of great relevance for the history of the museum with an expansion underway by the architects of the Catalan-Swiss team formed by Harquitectes and Christ & Gantenbein, which will consolidate the Macba as an inclusive and walkable museum and also as a meeting point ”. According to the museum, this ambitious project “will contribute to reinforcing the purpose of convincingly representing the contemporary art scene and placing it solidly in the international context, while at the same time strengthening the vocation of a public, inhabited, diverse, inclusive, close, accessible and transcendent”.
The General Council of the Macba Consortium highly valued the work of the expert committee formed by Joan Subirats, Deputy Mayor for Culture of the Barcelona City Council; Elsa Ibar, general director of Cultural Heritage of the Generalitat; Ainhoa Grandes, president of the Macba Foundation; María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco Carrillo de Albornoz, general director of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture; Chris Dercon, President of Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais de Paris and member of the Macba Advisory Commission; João Fernandes, artistic director of the Moreira Salles Institute in Rio de Janeiro; Ann-Sofi Noring, Chief Curator of the Moderna Museet, Vice Chancellor of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and a representative of the museum workers.
Chosen from 23 candidates
After evaluating 23 applications, many from Latin America, the committee restricted the selection to five finalists, who became the object of all the cabal of the art world gathered at the ARCO fair in Madrid. Finally, Dyangani obtained the best evaluation in relation to the objectives set: to maintain the museum’s prestige as an international benchmark institution, to develop a policy of exhibitions, activities and academic publications of excellence, and to continue strengthening the Macba Collection.
Dyangani graduated from the Autonomous University of Barcelona with a degree in Art History and will soon defend his doctoral thesis at the Department of Art History and Visual Studies at Cornell University in New York. Since 2018 he has made the management of The Showroom compatible with teaching in Visual Cultures at the Goldsmiths Institute, also in London. He is also a member of the expert council of the Fondazione Prada in Milan. She began her career as a curator of Contemporary Art at the Atlantic Center of Modern Art (CAAM) in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and later at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art (CAAC) in Seville. She has been a curator of the Göteborg International Biennial; Curator of International Art at the Tate Modern in London and artistic director of Rencontres Picha at the Lubumbashi Biennale, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Barcelona he was a member of the curatorial board of the Centro Arts Santa Mónica precisely during the direction of Barenblit, between 2002 and 2007. Dyangani has a renewable five-year senior management contract.