On January 7th, the artistic directors for the second edition of the Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art set for July 2021 were announced. Prem Krishnamurthy, a Berlin/New York-based designer and curator, and Tina Kukielski, executive director and chief curator of Art21, a New York non-profit, will lead the revolutionary triennial.
The inaugural triennial just wrapped in September 2018 after a two-month run. The triennial has set out to shack up the traditional format of biennials and triennials. The citywide arts programme focused on process, research, long-term engagement with the community, and collaborative projects by bringing together artists and scholars working on a both a regional and national/international scale. Front International hopes the new triennial will engage with social, political, cultural, and economic topics to inspire those who attend. According Front, the programme sees itself as a place ‘for [nuanced conversations] about the difficult issues and concerns in society, away from the perhaps comforting but also reductive way of absolute thinking that is so destructive.’ The first edition of the triennial also proved to be an economic hit. Cleveland State University’s Center for Economic Development found that the triennial generated over $31 million for the area. Their report also estimated that around $115 million revenue was made in sales revenue.
Krishnamurthy has led a plethora of projects collaborating with artists, architects, museums, and nonprofits like P! – the experimental Kunsthalle-like project that he founded and directed from 2012 to 2017 in New York’s Chinatown. He is also a founding member of Project Projects, a design firm; he has won the Cooper-Hewitt and Smithsonian Design Museum National Design Award. Krishnamurthy is also a partner and director at Wkshps, which is a multidisciplinary design workshop that focuses on cultural organization and visual identity.
While at Art21, Kukielski has produced the long-running TV show Art in the Twenty-First Century. Recently the programme has featured artists like Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, Olafur Eliasson, – who will have a major survey of his career later this year at Tate Modern – David Goldblatt, Hiwa K, and Lynn Hershman Leeson. Kukielski has also served in curatorial posts at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Her exhibitions have reached from Dubai to Milan, Naples to Miami and in 2013, she curated the Carnegie International with Daniel Baumann and Dan Byers.
‘I am thrilled about beginning work on FRONT 2021 with Tina and Prem. I have immense respect for their experience and talent, and I know that they will bring tremendous energy to this project, said Fred Bidwell, Front founder and executive director on the recent appointments. ‘Even though we had incredible success this past summer, under the artistic direction of Michelle Grabner, it is not our intention to duplicate the experience. I know that this team will bring new ideas and perspectives to the exhibition in partnership with the curatorial teams of our Presenting Partner institutions.’