Jul. 11, 2023

Buffalo–born, New York–based artist Asad Raza has been appointed curator of the 2025 iteration of Cleveland’s Front International Triennial, Artnews reports. Raza, whose collaborative practice resists easy categorization, will work alongside Magdalena Moskalewicz, the event’s permanent chief curator. Though no theme has yet been announced for the Triennial, Raza has said that he plans to focus on Cleveland and its surrounds, rather than bring in big-name international artists, as has been the norm at such events since the millennium’s start.

“We’re in a different moment, historically and economically,” he said in an interview. “We can’t just repeat the model.” Citing “the people in Cleveland who maybe don’t even know they’re interested in contemporary art” as the event’s target audience and promising a Triennial that engaged with local communities, he asserted, “I can help to highlight a certain kind of work that I see as happening more and more, and that is a good thing.” Raza continued, “‘Site-specific’ is almost wrong the word, almost place-specific. The difference between a site and place is that a site is almost a geographical set of coordinates, whereas a place is lived in by humans and nonhumans.”

Raza has made place the subject of his own oeuvre as well, embracing such diverse practices as performance, music, science, and sculpture, with nature being a frequent theme. At the 2017 Whitney Biennial, for example, he populated a gallery with a forest of trees planted in individual wooden boxes. For the 2022 Front Triennial, in which he was a participant, he shepherded a group of musicians from Buffalo to Cleveland via boat, aboard which the assembly wrote a new song in the Seneca language. A 2022 show at Frankfurt’s Portikus found him channeling water from the city’s fabled Main River into the gallery, where visitors were invited to variously stand in it and drink it.