The Edinburgh Art Festival announced that the new director is Kim McAleese. She takes over the role from outgoing festival director Sorcha Carey who led the festival from 2010 to 2021. Carey is now director at Collective.
McAleese takes up the position for the 18th edition of the Edinburgh Art Festival, which returns to the capital from Thursday 28 July to Sunday 28 August 2022.
Kim McAleese said: “Scotland has always been close to my heart, and I cannot wait to begin working there. Over the past few years, I have learned so much from artists working and living there, so really hope to continue these relationships and have them flourish. Collaborative working and co-commissioning has been an essential part of how I operate and see the world, and really hope to bring that to the festival.”
McAleese commissioned work for the Grand Union gallery in Birmingham, for public realm locations across the city and for digital platforms – with recent highlights including: commissioning Cooking Sections (The Empire Remains Shop – Birmingham, 2019 - 2022); Jamie Crewe (Love & Solidarity, co-commission with Humber Street Gallery, Hull, 2020); and working on significant projects with artists such as Asad Raza, Emma Hart, Prem Sahib, Uriel Orlow, Susie Green; and collaborating with Alberta Whittle and women’s groups in Birmingham for her Scotland & Venice project for Venice Biennale 2022, opening on the 23 April.
In larger public realm projects, McAleese is co-founder and co-director of Household Collective, Belfast (nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award 2013). Household has connected with organisations such as Artangel (London), Creativetime (New York) and Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin) to deliver interventions, commissions, and events. McAleese also led on a community artwork created by Bob and Roberta Smith in 2015 as part of 14-18NOW, a major programme of art commissions across the UK, and has worked on large-scale visual art projects for Belfast International Festival.
McAleese served on the 2021 Turner Prize Jury, and as Jury Member and Selector for the 2021 Margaret Tait Award. She is the Vice Chair of Outburst Queer Arts in Belfast, and was Advisory Board member of SHOUT Festival of Queer Arts and Culture in Birmingham until 2020. She is currently an Advisory Board member for New Art West Midlands, and served as a board member for Visual Artists Ireland from 2013 – 2016.
Supporting artists during COVID, McAleese was part of the UK Artist Emergency Grant Writing Lockdown with Autoitalia, Chisenhale Gallery and Gasworks (all London). Regularly mentoring curators based in the UK, and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, McAleese has lectured at universities and for institutions including British Council, Tate, CCA Derry Londonderry (Northern Ireland), SOMA Mexico and Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm). She has contributed to Frieze Magazine, Aesthetica and Corridor8 Journal, and was recently a guest on Robert Diament and Russell Tovey’s popular arts podcast, Talk Art.
McAleese was selected for awards including Arts Council England DYCP awards in 2019 and has held curatorial residencies in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Derry-Londonderry, and San Francisco. She was the first recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Career Enhancement Scheme for Curatorial Practice and was one of the participants in the first European Independent Curators International Curatorial Intensive in 2013.
In Scotland, she has worked closely with LUX Scotland and with DCA Dundee. At DCA, she co-curated Seized by the Left Hand (2018 – 2020) with Eoin Dara - an international group exhibition which took Ursula K. Le Guin’s influential science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) as a starting point to explore resistance against normative categorisations of gender, sexuality, bonding and kinship.