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Stefan Kalmár. Photo: Vost Collectif.
Stefan Kalmár. Photo: Vost Collectif.

Stefan Kalmár to Depart as Director of London ICA

Stefan Kalmár, who has served as director of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts since 2016, is stepping down, the institution announced today. “Directorships should never be for life—fixed tenures should be the norm not the exception,” said the German-born curator in a statement.

Under the leadership of Kalmár, who had previously helmed New York nonprofit Artists Space, the ICA mounted exhibitions by Forensic Architecture, Cameron Rowland, Metahaven, and Seth Price, as well as retrospectives of the work of Kathy Acker and Julie Becker. The museum additionally hosted talks by Chelsea Manning, Homi K Bhabha, and Paul Preciado, among others. Kalmár made the ICA’s cinema fully independent and renewed institutional focus on the museum’s theater, which staged plays by Kate Valk of The Wooster Group, KLEIN, and Richard Maxwell, and hosted performances by Precious Okoyomon and literature events such as Queers Read This.

Kalmár, who told Artnet News that he plans to leave London and live between Berlin and Marseille, cast his decision to leave as “deeply personal and professional” and alluded to the role of the continuing Covid-19 crisis in his departure, noting, “The past 17 months have been a time of intense self-reflection and realignment of one’s own values: what structures, what behaviors, what ideas, what work will matter most in the world ahead of us?” The ICA, like many institutions worldwide, was forced to close in March 2020, and only reopened last month.

Wolfgang Tillmans, the ICA’s board chair, acknowledged Kalmár’s contribution to the museum in a statement, saying “The ICA has been extremely lucky to have benefitted from his double input: Stefan’s international perspectives and his concurrent re-focusing onto the core values of the ICA. Speaking on behalf of the entire board, I thank Stefan wholeheartedly for his vision, expertise and the hard work he gave to the ICA. We wish him the very best for his future endeavor!”

The museum has said it will begin a search for his replacement shortly.