The curator has organized high-profile public-art projects and is also a noted writer on activist art.


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Nato Thompson Leaves New York’s Creative Time for Upstart Arts Organization in Philadelphia

Nato Thompson.


Creative Time’s artistic director, Nato Thompson, who has been with the socially minded and public art-inclined institution in New York for a decade, is leaving to serve as artistic director of Philadelphia Contemporary, the New York Times reports. He will start his new post in November.

At Creative Time, Thompson helped organize high-profile public projects that have resonated citywide, including Kara Walker’s looming sugar-refinery installation A Subtlety (2014) and Pedro Reyes’s Doomocracy (2016) as well as, beyond the bounds of New York, projects such as Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007). More recent endeavors include an ongoing series of politically potent protest flags flying above Creative Time’s offices in lower Manhattan and, in partnership with Pioneer Works two weekends ago, a consideration of the current political climate with the farcical culture-jammers known as the Yes Men. Prior to joining Creative Time in 2007, Thompson worked as a curator at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Thompson is also a noted writer on matters related to political engagement and activist art. His books published by the general-interest-aimed Melville House include Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life (2017) and Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century (2015).

In his new post at Philadelphia Contemporary, Thompson will help steer a nonprofit founded in 2016 with a purview that currently includes pop-up presentations and aspirations in the next few years to move into a permanent home described in a mission statement as “independent and free-standing, a venue that celebrates the abundance of genre-bending, multidisciplinary practices that make up the field of contemporary art.” The group’s founding director is Harry Philbrick, formerly the director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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