Kabelo Malatsie to Lead Kunsthalle Bern

June 29th, 2021

Kabelo Malatsie has been announced as the new director of Kunsthalle Bern. The thirty-four-year-old South African–born Malatsie will take up her new post in April 2022, succeeding Valérie Knoll, who has helmed the institution since 2015. Whereas Knoll was the first woman to lead the museum, Malatsie is the first non-European to do so. Additionally, she will become one of the few Black people currently holding leadership positions at Swiss arts institutions.

“Translation encompasses the linguistic body politics and ideas of the world that are yet to be creatively brought to the fore,” said Malatsie in a statement. “I look forward to working with the team at Kunsthalle Bern to continue experimenting on curatorial and artistic practices.”

Considered one of the leading influencers of the Johannesburg art world of the past decade, Malatsie was chosen from a pool of more than 130 applicants from around the globe. She was acting director of the Johannesburg- and Cape Town–based Stevenson Gallery from 2011 to 2016 before obtaining her master’s degree in art history from the University of Witwatersrand in 2018 and going on to serve as director of VANSA (Visual Arts Network of Africa) through 2019. She has worked as a commissioning curator, notably for Sabelo Mlangeni’s 2018 solo exhibition “Umlindelo wamaKholwa” at Johannesburg’s Wits Art Museum, and has served as cocurator on numerous exhibitions, among them 2018’s “In the Open or in Stealth” at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and “Deliberation on Discursive Justice” at the 2020 Yokohama Triennale.

“The board and the selection committee were impressed not only by Kabelo Malatsie’s theoretical and curatorial approach, but also by her professional experience and knowledge of the international scene, and her manner of working in close collaboration with artists, finding varied and subtle ways to inspire them,” noted Kunsthalle Bern co-chair Florian Dombois in a statement.