FRONT Triennial announces artistic director, chief curator, for big, 2025 regional show

Jul. 11, 2023

By Steven Litt,

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, Northeast Ohio’s big, summerlong global art exhibition, announced the appointment of leaders for its next iteration in 2025.

Artist, dramaturge, writer, and Buffalo native Asad Raza, now based in New York and Berlin, will serve as artistic director for FRONT’s third edition, which will run from July 16 to October 5, 2025.

Chicago-based scholar and curator Magdalena Moskalewicz will soon move to Cleveland to take the new institutional position of chief curator for the triennial.

FRONT Triennial announces new artistic director, chief curator

Chicago-based scholar and curator Magdalena Moskalewicz will soon move to Cleveland to take the new institutional position of chief curator for the triennial.Courtesy FRONT Triennial

“I’m sort of pinching myself about both of them,’’ Fred Bidwell, FRONT’s founding CEO, said Monday in an interview with and The Plain Dealer. “They’re both very exciting hires [representing] major brain gain for Cleveland and a real validation for FRONT. We’re able to attract this level of talent, which is exciting, considering this was nothing but an idea a relatively short while ago.”

The inaugural FRONT was held in 2018, followed by a second edition in 2022 that was delayed by one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nonprofit triennial is one of Northeast Ohio’s biggest regional cultural events. It involves exhibits of new or recent works by 100 or more artists from across the U.S. and around the world at dozens of cultural venues and public spaces across Cleveland, Oberlin, and Akron. The organization has a full-time staff of five and a budget of $5 million for 2025.

An economic impact study recently produced by scholars at Cleveland State University showed that FRONT 2022 had 75,000 unique visitors, down 18% from the 90,000 unique visitors in 2018. Despite the decline FRONT performed well above the average 38% decline in attendance from pre-pandemic levels reported by the American Association of Museums.

Raza’s appointment follows those of earlier FRONT artistic directors including Milwaukee-based artist and educator Michelle Grabner of FRONT 2018, and Berlin-based designer and curator Prem Krishnamurthy of FRONT 2022.

FRONT 2022 Triennial is a vast, visual scavenger hunt celebrating Greater Cleveland

R.C. Sherer of Orange, who visited Cleveland with his father, Jay Sherer, made the most of a FRONT 2022 Triennial installation by artist Asad Raza.Steven Litt,

The artistic director’s job is to shape FRONT’s conceptual framework and to invite artists from around the world to participate. As the new chief curator, Moskalewicz will “develop and advocate for the artistic voice and curatorial standards of FRONT in all its programs, publications, and exhibitions,’’ the exhibit said in a news release.

“Moskalewicz will collaborate closely with Raza and FRONT’s institutional partners to elevate FRONT as an institution and internationally-regarded exhibition,’’ the announcement said.

Raza’s appointment follows his involvement with FRONT 2022, for which he created two new works. In “Delegation,” Raza and seven musicians sailed across Lake Erie from Buffalo to Cleveland, composing a piece of music they then performed at Cleveland’s Old Stone Church.

Raza’s outdoor sculpture, “Orientation,’’ installed on Wade Oval in University Circle, was made with invasive mussel shells and doubled as a children’s slide and as an astronomical device.

“Both works delved into Lake Erie’s past, present, and futures—its entwined rhythms, eco-systems, and communities—through an engagement with the local geography, systems, and peoples,’’ FRONT said in its announcement.

“Our fragile planetary existence demands we find new ways to discover our interconnectedness with other beings, cultures, natures, and worlds—exploring this has been my ambition in art,’’ Raza said in the announcement. “I relish the chance to continue this exploration collaboratively, at the scale and with the level of ambition of FRONT.’’

Moskalewicz has taught for seven years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, most recently as visiting professor of arts administration and policy.

She has also served as a visiting curator at Zachęta—National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland; and was the curator of the Polish Pavilion for the 56th edition of La Biennale di Venezia.

She will collaborate closely with Raza and future FRONT Artistic Directors to develop exhibition concepts with a global vantage that resonate with the histories and peoples of the industrial Midwest, the organization said.

“She’ll build our institutional resources and credibility,’’ Bidwell said.