Argentina-born curator Ferran Barenblit has been named the director of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), the museum announced today. The news means that Barenblit will be leaving his post at the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, in Madrid, where he has been director since 2008.
Between 2002 and 2008, Barenblit was the director of Centre d’Art de Santa Mònica, where he worked with a number of Spanish contemporary artists, including Christian Jankowski and Ester Partegàs. Barenblit also did freelance curating throughout the world, working on such shows as “Standards of Reality” at the Otis College of Art & Design, in Los Angeles, and “Irony” at the Fundació Juan Miró, in Barcelona.
Barenblit was chosen by a committee at MACBA that included Chris Dercon, the director of the Tate Modern, and Alfred Pacquement, the former director of the Centre Pompidou.
MACBA’s former director, Bartomeu Marí, resigned in March after a censorship scandal. In an exhibition called “La bestia y el soberano” (“The Beast and the Sovereign”), MACBA curators had initially included a work by Ines Doujak called Dressed for Conquering, which featured a former Spanish king engaged in a sex act with a dog on top of SS helmets. Marí asked the curators not to include the work in the show, and, when they refused, proceeded to cancel the exhibition. (He later backpedaled and opened the exhibition anyway.) Following an outrage from MACBA staff over this disagreement, Marí resigned and the two curators were fired.
As a result of the scandal, there is still tension at MACBA. Immediately following the “Beast and the Sovereign” debacle, the museum’s president, Jaume Ciurana, told El País that the museum, which opened in 1995, was “going through a profound crisis.” Barenblit will now have to regain the staff’s trust.