The Dutch magazine Metropolis M reports that De Appel curator and director Lorenzo Benedetti has been fired by its board. This comes as a surprise to the Dutch art community, who widely recognize him as an exceptionally talented curator. Domeniek Ruyters writes in support of Benedetti for Metropolis M below.
Benedetti is internationally recognised for this talent. Also by the board of De Appel, which reaped him in June 2014 with cheers, precisely because of his record as a curator. Benedetti put De Appel in a few months back to the years on Prinseneiland when Saskia Bos was able to let artist after artist realise stunning installations. These were installations that you simply couldn’t miss, that are rooted in memory if you were able to see them. Under Benedetti the so troublesome exhibition building on the Prins Hendrikkade flourished in a short time into something of a genius loci, the building slowly gained an exhibition-soul and an exhibition-history. It became a place where art lovers had to go.
Perhaps the artists were not the most appealing types to a wide audience, perhaps they spoke a language that many people find too formal and contemplative, but here at least art was practiced on the edge of the razor. Art that undid us as viewers from all our tried and tested weapons with which we usually confront art. Visitors don’t like this.
Now Benedetti has to leave. For him it feels as if he has barely had a chance to prove himself. Among many direct bystanders in the art world, there is also another disappointment: Benedetti is a white raven in the new breed of contemporary exhibition managers, who, with the textbook ‘how you score with a wide audience’ in hand built an exhibition-factory that is able to double, in no time, visitor numbers. Benedetti's appointment at De Appel was a moment of hope for art lovers, hope that the artists’ curator still stood a chance in the marketing addicted exhibition company of the Netherlands.
I hear voices from De Appel saying his leadership was lacking, he was abroad too often preparing for new projects, he wasn’t able to engage his own staff, the municipality and other institutions in the city in his plans.
I am not so interested in that. There are enough managers in this world. There's bound to be someone who can cover local politics for him, and whatever else is necessary in terms of business contacts, just as Paul van Gennip has been doing this at Witte de With for years.
Artists’ curators as Benedetti are rare. You will not easily find another one of them. Therefore, let us cherish them and hold them close.