Chris Dercon Resigns from Berlin's Volksbuhne Theater Amidst Controversy

Chris Dercon Resigns from Berlin's Volksbuhne Theater Amidst Controversy

According to the New York Times, Chris Dercon, director of Berlin's Volksbühne Theater, officially resigned on Friday after months of protests that his appointment to the job was "a betrayal of the theater's roots."

Berlin's senator for culture, Klaus Lederer, said in a statement: "The central point we all agreed to was that if we continue with business as usual, we would face a real, lasting problem that could have endangered the theater as a whole."

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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 Munich and the Tate Modern in London.

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 organises exhibitions including ones on Edvard Munch, Saloua R. Choucair, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Meschac Gaba, Richard Tuttle, Marlene Dumas, Bhupen Khakhar and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Photo Credit: Tobias Kruse

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