Tate Modern has expanded its curatorial perspective to be more inclusive of international voices this week. Yesterday the London gallery announced four new curatorial hires that signal openness to art from South Asia, Southwest Asia, and North Africa.
The new curators of international art are Nabila Abdel Nabi, Osei Bonsu, Valentina Ravaglia, and Devika Singh. The new appointees will support the work of the newly established Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational.
Ravaglia, who has worked as assistant curator at Tate Modern since 2012, was promoted in August to the position of curator of displays and international art.
Abdel Nabi, who took up her post in April, focuses specifically on art from Southwest Asia and North Africa, according to Tate Modern. Abdel Nabi comes to the job after working as an associate curator at the Power Plant, Toronto, and prior to that as gallery manager of exhibitions in the Third Line, Dubai. In the past, she also worked as an art editor at the literary magazine the Point.
Bonsu, a curator, critic and art historian, will be entrusted with strengthening the representation of African art in Tate’s collection and program. Bonsu has previously curated The Economy of Living Things (2017), the 10th edition of the Satellite series at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, France, and worked on a number of projects focusing on African art, including Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America at Saatchi Gallery in London (2015), and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (2013-14). He took up his role this September.
Singh, who was appointed in March, is in charge of art from South Asia. Singh specializes in modern and contemporary art and architecture in South Asia and the global history of modernism. She has curated the Planetary Planning, Dhaka Art Summit (2018) and Gedney in India, at CSMVS in Mumbai, India (2017). She has also curated the forthcoming exhibition Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge.
“We are delighted to appoint Nabila, Osei, Valentina, and Devika as Curators at Tate Modern,” said Tate Modern’s director Frances Morris. “Their significant experience and expertise will play an important part in expanding our knowledge of modern and contemporary art from Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East, furthering our ambition to present a truly international story of art through our programme and collection.”
Morris, who’s been helming Tate Modern since 2016, has been praised for her efforts to diversify the institution’s roster of artists, although critics point to a lingering problem in the underrepresentation of women in the gallery’s permanent collection.
Update 9/12/19 4:41pm ET: Art + Museum Transparency, the group responsible for the open Google spreadsheet in which museum workers shared their salaries, noted on its Twitter page today that the new Tate Modern curators were hired under part-time adjunct contracts. “We notice that the word ‘adjunct’ dropped out somewhere between the job posting and the press release,” the group wrote in a tweet. “Is is [sic] possible we’re missing some crucial information? Have these been turned into full-time curatorial positions @Tate?”
The group linked to a job description page on Tate’s website offering a two-year freelance contract for a salary of £20,000 (~$25,000) a year. “We applaud the new direction @Tate, but the reporting misses that these are part-time two-year contract jobs paying £20,000/year. That does not signal a real commitment to anything,” the group wrote in another tweet, “Funny how when museums diversify their staffs, the positions are temporary. Good press tho.”
Hyperallergic has sent Tate Modern a request for comment. We will update the article with their response when possible.
Update 9/13/19 11:22am ET: Tate Modern emailed Hyperallergic the following message in response to Art + Museum Transparency’s allegations on Twitter yesterday: “This is incorrect. All four posts announced are full-time, permanent posts based at Tate Modern. In addition, we will be contracting adjunct curatorial posts.”
Art + Museum Transparency retracted its accusations on Twitter but asked the museum to clarify which appointments were made under temporary adjunct contracts.