Philippe Van Cauteren – kathmandu triennale

Curator's Profile

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Philippe Van Cauteren

Curator Statement

KT 2017 will take the city as a starting point. Art, contemporary art to be specific, has mostly developed and prospered in urban surroundings worldwide. The city as a dense microcosm, which embraces all aspects of life is a source of inspiration, or a context influencing processes for many generations of artists. New York, London, Lagos, Rio De Janeiro, Beijing, Johannesburg, Delhi and Moscow are just a number of cities where art prospered and art history has been written. Kathmandu belongs to this list of cities where art has thrived for countless years.

The title of the exhibition “The City, My Studio / The City, My Life” clearly articulates the two functions that the city can have for an artist. Kathmandu (or any other city) as a working place, as the mold for artistic thinking and process. At the same time, it is a place where artists (and everyone else) try to organize their lives. The city is an arena where daily life is ‘performed’ in its richness and complexity. The city is a complex of neural connections, as a set of never lowering and superposition of synchronous interactions.

Invited artists are not to illustrate this definition of the city or urban life, but instead to take the city as a catalyst--as a laboratory to generate artistic forms, gestures, acts, ideas;art works. The city has to be considered as a place to work from, a context which motivates and inspires the art work.

The city is much like a container in which, through random ways, direct and indirect, history, habits and traditions are preserved. The socio-cultural texture of the place; colors and odors; the past, the present and the future; stories’ facts and fiction—all of it activated in the same. The artist thus will aim to be an urban archaeologist who digs from the city these elements, which can serve as core threads in their artistic practice.

In the exhibition “The City, My Studio / The City, My Life” Kathmandu serves as a unique and marvelous hub where encounters are generated between artists from Nepal and around the world. At the same time the exhibition serves as a meeting point between artists and the audiences

An exhibition is namely a tool (for transformation) and an instrument, which generates meaning, and that which serves, in its spatial articulation, to make the predefined artwork to become ‘elastic.’ “The City, My Studio / The City, My Life” is an invitation to embrace differences, to embrace idiosyncratic artistic practices of the highest qualities that will enter in a dialogue and generate a ‘composition’ which will be a tribute to art and its vital role in society. Artists are the compass as they show these directions that no one else reflects.

“The City, My Studio / The City, My Life” is dedicated to the victims of the earthquake of April 25 and May 12, 2015.



Philippe Van Cauteren is the Artistic Director of Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, Belgium. Under his guidance, the exhibition program of S.M.A.K. primarily concentrates on major monographical exhibitions. Cauteren has also been working as a freelance curator and publicist in Germany, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. He has been represented twice at the Venice Biennale, in the 55th—co-curator of the exhibition Kreupelhout–Cripplewood by Berlinde De Bruyckere—and 56th edition. In 2015, he was appointed by the RUYA Foundation to curate the Iraqi Pavilion for the latter. Prior to this, his major curatorial project was the first Biennal Ceara America’ (2002), Fortaleza, Brazil.

In 2015 he curated with Martin Germann the exhibition Drawing | The Bottom Line, an international group show defining the notion of drawing in contemporary art. Apart from being involved in curatorial projects, Cauteren also writes and lectures on contemporary art.

Phillip has been previously associated with Nepal through the Siddhartha Arts Foundation Education Initiative. Having held multiple workshops and masterclasses, Phillip will now be curating the main exhibition of the 3rd edition of the Kathmandu Triennale.


Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K) is a contemporary art museum primarily focused on artists and their practice. It functions as an art laboratory, a place for experimentation, research and innovation. The museum poses questions, stimulates reflection and celebrates doubt. It houses works by prominent 20th century artists and runs extensive educational programs for children, schools and art students in association with academic and other institutional partners.


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