27 May 2022

Artspace Aotearoa Appoints New Kaitohu Director

Ruth Buchanan with her work Spiral Time in Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart. Photo by Xandra M. Linsin.

Following an extensive national and international search, Artspace Aotearoa and our board are excited to announce Ruth Buchanan (Taranaki, Te Atiawa, Pākehā) as our newly-appointed Kaitohu Director. The award-winning artist will take up the position in November, relocating to Aotearoa after more than a decade of working in Berlin. This is first time an artist has led the organisation since Artspace Aotearoa’s founding director Mary-Louise Browne (1986 – 89).

Taranaki-born Buchanan completed her undergraduate study at Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland. Since finishing her Masters at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, she has been involved in the leadership, development, and production of over one hundred exhibitions, public programmes, and publications. A big-picture collaborator and hands-on practitioner, generosity, excellence and inclusion are guiding principles of her practice.

In 2018 Buchanan won the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s prestigious Walters Prize for her project Bad Visual Systems. In 2019 she developed The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong, the acclaimed 50th anniversary show at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Ngāmotu New Plymouth, a re-imagining of that institution’s collection foregrounding indigenous and feminist perspectives. This year Buchanan launched Heute Nacht geträumt [I dreamt last night], a museum-wide exhibition at Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart.

Buchanan has taught at the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, the University of Hildesheim, the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm and the Staedelschule, Frankfurt.

“I’m thrilled to take up this role. Spiralling out from Karangahape Road at the heart of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, I will be working to continue growing Artspace Aotearoa’s collaborations locally, nationally, and internationally. Drawing on shifts taking place across the global gallery and museum landscape, I’m looking forward to leading the team to present exhibitions and positions that promote emancipatory world views. Key to this is the ongoing development of expressions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its capacity to contribute to conversations in Aotearoa and further afield. As an artist taking up this role, I’m excited to underscore Artspace Aotearoa’s founding commitment to forging an ‘otherwise’ through timely programming that insists on art’s fundamental role in narrating, problematising and understanding the world in which we live, together.”

  • Ruth Buchanan

“We were unanimous in our appointment of Ruth, whose practice ngākau is relationships. Whakawhitiwhiti kōrero in the negotiation upheld the mana all have brought to identifying our new Kaitohu Director. The mahi to evolve Artspace Aotearoa into an entity that can put forth a karanga for tangata whenua leadership, and have this answered, has not been inconsiderable. The appointment navigates significant connections between past work and potential future pathways. Ka Mua, Ka Muri.

I give my humble gratitude to our Manu Taiko Tūī Ranapiri-Ransfield, ngā Tiaki (Trustees), outgoing Director Remco DeBlaaij, the Artspace Aotearoa gallery team, our supportive creative whanaunga in the arts and ngā haukāinga of Karangāhape Road. All who have worked so diligently through often adverse times, to create the change we can see is needed.

You do not walk the path alone, nor step into a void.
Haramai te Toki, Haumi-e, Hui-e, Taiki-e.”

  • Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Kaihautū Chairperson Artspace Aotearoa (on behalf of Tiaki Trustees), 2022

For any media enquiries please contact aliyah@artspace.org.nz