Jens Hoffmann on Leaving the Front Triennial in Cleveland: ‘I Personally Could Not Identify With the Directions It Was Taking’



A day after the Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art announced that its co-artistic director Jens Hoffmann would be “departing” his position, Hoffmann sent an email to ARTnews indicating that he left Front on his own volition, saying that he “personally could not identify with the directions it was taking.”

“I decided to withdraw from FRONT to focus on my other projects, such as the 2nd Honolulu Biennial in 2019, my role as chief curator at MOCA Detroit, my work for the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco, and a number of other exhibitions taking place over the next years,” Hoffmann said in the email sent Tuesday afternoon. “Putting together an exhibition like FRONT, which has so many different museums, off-site venues, and local curators and administrators taking part in the larger curatorial process, all of which need their voices to be heard, is not an easy undertaking.”

He further explained his departure by saying, “As the triennial was evolving, I found that I personally could not identify with the directions it was taking but I am confident that FRONT will be a wonderful experience for visitors and the participating artists.” The exhibition’s other co-artistic director, Michelle Grabner, is continuing in her role.

He stated that he made the decision to move on, after the initial statement released by Front yesterday said he was “departing from his role” without specifying whether he left himself or was asked to leave by the exhibition’s other leadership.

But in comments to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Front CEO Fred Bidwell seemed to contradict Hoffmann’s claim that he initiated the departure.

“We’ve made a change in the artistic leadership of FRONT,” Bidwell told the paper.

When asked about the discrepancy today, a spokesperson for the exhibition said that its leadership had no comment beyond its initial statement.

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