Defne Ayas, a curator at Performa, New York’s performance biennial, is heading to Rotterdam to become director of the city’s venturesome contemporary art museum Witte de With. The appointment goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
At Witte de With, Ms. Ayas will replace Nicolaus Schafhausen, who has held the directorship for six years, the maximum amount of time the museum’s allows its leader to stay. (For better or worse, if New York museums had such a policy, the current heads of the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum, to name just three examples, would no longer be in power.)
Ms. Ayas has been with Performa since 2004, before its first edition, which was presented in 2005. Its fourth iteration, dubbed Performa 11, will take place in November of this year. (The Observer profiled the program in its Fall Arts Preview, which is on newsstands today.)
In addition to her work for Performa, Ms. Ayas has, since 2007, served as co-founding director of Shanghai-based Arthub Asia, which facilitates art projects and exchanges throughout Asia. She has also been on the faculty of NYU’s contemporary art and new media program in Shanghai for five years.
According to Witte de With’s announcement, Ms. Ayas will remain involved with Performa and Arthub as she assumes her new role.