Chris Dercon, former Director of Volksbühne Berlin and Tate Modern, presents a keynote lecture on the occasion of featuring selected works by pioneering dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and writer Yvonne Rainer at IMMA. Drawing on Rainer’s incredible 50 years practice, and its influence of on a subsequent generation of practitioners, Dercon’s talk examines the various ways dance and performance is used to intervene and invade the space of the museum, exploring historic and contemporary examples that defy categorisation.
This talk offers the rare chance to hear from one of the most prolific figures working and programming contemporary art, theatre, dance and performance, today.
Dercon has been directing art institutions since 1990, including PS1 in New York, Witte de With - Center for Contemporary Art and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, both in Rotterdam, Haus der Kunst in Munic, the Tate Modern in London and the Volksbühne Berlin. From 1976 to 1982, he studied theatre and film in the Netherlands. Throughout the 1980s Dercon was active in the Belgian and Dutch performance, dance, and avant-garde theatre scene. During this time, he worked as a freelance theatre producer and director for the theatre and dance festival Klapstuk in Leuven and founded the International Theatre Tape Festival in Rotterdam. He produces numerous programmes on dance and film for Belgian and Dutch television.
In 1988 Dercon assumed the position of programme director at the Institute of Contemporary Art PS1 in New York. In 1990, he took on the role of director of Witte de With - Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam and became the director of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam in 1996. As director of Haus der Kunst in Munich 2003-2011, he initiated collaborations with, and publications about, Amar Kanwar, Allan Kaprow, Alexander Kluge, Martin Margiela, Paul McCarthy, Carlo Mollino, Garin Nugroho, Christoph Schlingensief, Patti Smith, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ai Weiwei. In addition, alongside contemporary art, Dercon also firmly established theatre, dance and performance, as well as film, photography, architecture, design and fashion in the programme. In addition, he headed the institution's "critical reconstruction", which reversed structural changes that had been carried out in the context of architectural denazification after the Second World War, to provide a perspective on the venue's origins and to facilitate a discourse about its history. From 2011 to 2016, as director of Tate Modern, Chris Dercon focussed firmly on Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In 2013, he opened the new "Tank" exhibition spaces that were transformed by Herzog & de Meuron, for Art in Action and initiated such exhibitions including as Ibrahim El-Salahi, Bhupen Khakhar, Richard Tuttle, Fahrelnissa Zeid and Wolfgang Tillmans. At the Volksbühne Berlin he worked with dancers such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jérôme Bel, Boris Charmatz and Tim Etchells who also performed at Tate Modern under his tenure.