The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London has named Bengi Ünsal as its next director, to take over in March after Stefan Kalmár, who recently completed a five-year stint. Ünsal is the first new director appointed under the chairmanship of artist Wolfgang Tillmans, and will take over the institution in the midst of what a press release describes as a “rebalancing of its multidisciplinary program across all arts, all media, and all spaces” during its 75th anniversary. In addition to the ICA’s focus art, film, and education, Bengi will commission “a broader range of live performances” while also expanding nighttime programming and digital offerings.
As the head of contemporary music at London’s Southbank Centre since 2016, Ünsal has overseen a broad range of performance programming, including the annual Meltdown Festival (with guest curators including MIA, Robert Smith of the Cure, and disco great Nile Rodgers). Prior to Southbank, Ünsal was the artistic and managing director of Salon IKSV in Istanbul.
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In a statement, Ünsal said, “We are living through a time that is challenging everything we know about work, life, the world, our connectivity. In a time of such questioning, it is vital that the space for culture, art, and expression is safeguarded to help us make sense of it all. We need our cultural institutions to be the platforms which allow artists to do just that.”
Tillmans, ICA’s chair, said, “My colleagues and I are enormously excited that Bengi has agreed to join us at this crucial moment in the ICA’s history. Bengi has already started developing and sharing her ideas and plans on how she will shape a program across all artforms and all areas of our building, taking the organization back to its multidisciplinary heyday with a program rooted firmly in the here and now.”