press release

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art
An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises
July 14–September 30, 2018
Press and professional preview days: July 12–13

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art announces its first group of participating artists, artists-in-residence and presenting partners for its first edition, titled An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, running July 14, 2018 through September 30, 2018. Conceived of by FRONT’s Artistic Directors Michelle Grabner and Jens Hoffmann, this multipart presentation of interconnected “cultural exercises” will investigate the significance and meaning of staging a large-scale international triennial in the contemporary context. Bringing together more than 55 local, national and international artists across mediums and disciplines, FRONT will partner with sites throughout the city of Cleveland and beyond to explore artistic collaborations, intellectual exchanges and curatorial dialogues connecting the city and the Great Lakes region to broader global, political and economic networks. FRONT’s ambitious program will weave critical approaches to museum exhibitions, public and educational programs, residencies, publications and research strategies in a complex presentation.

FRONT will collaborate with cultural institutions and site-specific locations in Cleveland, foregrounding meaningful partnerships within the city’s cultural fabric and urban history to present focused projects, oscillating between large-scale commissions and exhibitions by recognized artists and emerging practitioners. Grabner and Hoffmann will develop these exhibitions in close collaboration with the institutions’ respective curators.

“As an experimental program of exhibitions, residencies and public events, FRONT investigates what it means to stage a large-scale international biennial or triennial today, looking carefully at the feasibility, necessity and structures of large art events, proposing alternatives and reprioritizing typical exhibition hierarchies,” says FRONT’s Executive Director, Fred Bidwell.

Describing the exhibition, FRONT Artistic Director Jens Hoffmann said, “Over the course of the year leading up to the opening, FRONT will work to examine the local, regional and global influences that have shaped a 21st century American city located outside the traditional centers of cultural power and production in the United States.”

“An American City considers the complex transformations that Cleveland, Ohio, a medium-size city in the center of the country, has undergone in recent decades,” says FRONT Artistic Director Michelle Grabner, “and examine how Cleveland’s particular history might parallel those of other cities in the United States and around the world.”


Participating artists & artists-in-residence as of July 14, 2017

Asian Dope Boys; Nasser Al-Salem; Juan Araujo; Dana Awartani; Eric Baudelaire; Dawoud Bey; Barbara Bloom; Candice Breitz; Nicholas Buffon; A.K. Burns; Gerard Byrne; Sean Connelly; Sarah Crowner; Abraham Cruzvillegas; Marlon de Azambuja; Casey Jane Ellison; Harrell Fletcher; Claire Fontaine; Simon Fujiwara; Cyprien Gaillard; Dani Gal; Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster; Maryam Jafri; Cui Jie; Hao Jing Ban; Li Jinghu; William E. Jones; Alex Jovanovich; Lin Ke; Mike Kelley; Luisa Lambri; Guillaume Leblon; Adriana Martínez; Laura Huertes Millán; Adriana Minoliti; Sarah Morris; Naeem Mohaiemen; Kirsten Pieroth; Michael Rakowitz; Cheng Ran; Jennifer Reeder; John Riepenhoff; Kay Rosen; Allen Ruppersberg; Tino Sehgal; Indrė Šerpytytė; Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA); Katrín Sigurdardóttir; Cally Spooner; Julian Stanczak; Martine Syms; Zhou Tao; Jim Trainor; Philip Vanderhyden; Jan Van der Ploeg; Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Búrca; Carey Young

Fred Bidwell
Executive Director

Fred Bidwell is a philanthropist, collector, and community leader. After a 35-year career as an advertising and marketing entrepreneur, in 2011 he and his wife established the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation. In 2013, the Bidwell Foundation opened Transformer Station, a contemporary art exhibition space on Cleveland’s West Side. Transformer Station alternates between acting as a venue for exhibitions curated by the Bidwells from their renowned collection of photo-based contemporary art and as a venue for exhibitions organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Fred Bidwell serves on the boards of the Akron Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art and on the Visiting Committee of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Michelle Grabner
Artistic Director

Michelle Grabner is a celebrated American painter and conceptual artist. Her work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Milwaukee Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; DaimlerChrysler Collection, Berlin; Mudam Luxembourg; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In November 2012, Grabner was selected as one of three curators to organize the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York. She recently curated the 2016 Portland Biennial, a statewide exhibition in Oregon. Grabner is the Crown Family Professor in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. With her husband, Brad Killam, she co-directs the project spaces The Suburban, in Milwaukee, and the Poor Farm, in Little Wolf, Wisconsin. Michelle Grabner serves on the board of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Jens Hoffmann
Artistic Director

Jens Hoffmann is an exhibition maker, writer, educator and editor based in New York, Milan and Detroit. From 2012 to 2017 he was deputy director of the Jewish Museum in New York, where he currently works as director of exhibitions and public programs. He has been Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit since 2012 and a curator and senior adviser for the KADIST Art Foundation in San Francisco and Paris since 2008. In 2017 he was appointed curator for Fundación Arte in Buenos Aires. Formerly director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, and director of exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Hoffmann has curated and co-curated more than five dozen exhibitions around the world, including the 9th Shanghai Biennale, the 12th Istanbul Biennial and the 2nd San Juan Triennial. He is the founding editor of The Exhibitionist: Journal on Exhibition Making and editor-at-large of Mousse magazine. Since 2003, Hoffmann has been adjunct professor at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan and was associate professor at the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts in San Francisco (2006–2012). A frequent contributor to art magazines such as Frieze and Artforum, he has written more than 250 essays for exhibition catalogs and museum publications worldwide. In 2016, Hoffmann received the Award for Curatorial Excellence from the American Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation.


FRONT is a new art triennial coming to Cleveland in the summer of 2018. This citywide art festival will bring together internationally and regionally recognized artists, curators, and scholars for a unique and engaging experience.

The inaugural exhibition, titled An American City, proposes a new format for art triennials, and focuses on process, research, collaboration, and long- term engagement with the Northeast Ohio region via programming that includes artistic and curatorial residencies, a temporary art academy, a web- based art journal for the Midwest, museum exhibitions, site-specific artistic interventions across the city, as well as a series of solo and group exhibitions with a wide range of collaborations. FRONT will provide an expansive stage for local, national, and international artists to create and share new work that is inspired by and engaged with the most important social, political, and cultural issues of our time. The themes and ideas explored by participating artists will be rooted in the spirit of Cleveland while connecting the city’s history and current realities to issues and ideas that are universal.

FRONT has teamed up with all of Cleveland and the region’s most renowned arts and cultural institutions, making it unique in the world for the scope of its collaboration.

FRONT is organized by the FRONT Exhibition Company.