“I am very pleased that the competent bodies of the academy have spoken out in favour of Jan Boelen as the new rector. I am confident that, with his comprehensive international experience in the academic area as well as the area of design and art, he will provide the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design important impulses for its further development”, commented Petra Olschowski, Secretary of State in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Art.
The prospect of contributing to the transformation process of this extremely interesting and innovative institution in the coming years was the decisive factor in the Belgian’s interest in, and application to, the HfG Karlsruhe. “Not another art school” is his motto. What that means to him is to translate the HfG Karlsruhe’s interdisciplinary combination of art, design, theory and the most advanced technologies – a concept that remains unique in Germany and Europe – into the language of the present, and, with everyone involved, to direct the school’s focus to the urgent topics of our time. Boelen regards the HfG as a venue capable of addressing itself to the questions of the future and negotiating them anew. He sees art, design, theory and digital technology as tools, but also as vibrant protagonists in their own right for navigating the complex and rapidly changing world.
The internationally active curator Jan Boelen was elected new rector to the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design at a joint session of the school’s senate and council on 29 April 2019 in the first ballot.
Jan Boelen studied product design in Limburg, Belgium. Since 2001 he has served, among other capacities, as artistic director of the Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium and since 2010 as head of the Master Department Social Design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, Netherlands. He has been the artistic director of Atelier LUMA, Arles, France since 2016. In 2017, he curated the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial with the programmatic title “Design as Learning: A School of Schools". Boelen is a member of various boards and committees, among them the advisory council of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee and the Creative Industries Fund in the Netherlands. He has been teaching at Dutch and Belgian art academies for many years and advises the CEOs and executive boards of Philips Light and Vitra in the area of innovation and possible strategies for the future.
Boelen reformed the Provincial Center for Visual Arts, now known as the Z33 House for Contemporary Art, turning it into a contemporary laboratory allowing new ways of looking at everyday objects. The Z33 is a hub for experimentation and innovation that introduces new exhibition formats for contemporary art and contemporary design in combination with architecture, fashion or the media. Boelen’s curatorial activities at the Z33 have encompassed collaborations with Raf Simons, Dunne & Raby, Aldo Bakker and many others.
For the LUMA Foundation, Boelen developed the Atelier LUMA in Arles, an innovative experimental design laboratory based on an expanded definition of design. Atelier LUMA is a think tank, production workshop and learning network in one, where everything revolves around sustainable strategies for responding to the urgent issues of our time, and around how design can be made utilizable as an instrument of change.
Jan Boelen will succeed Prof Dr Johan F. Hartle – the acting rector of the HfG Karlsruhe since 2017 – at the start of the coming winter semester. In the capacity of acting rector over the past one and a half years, Prof Hartle has worked with the new management team to redefine the school’s orientation. Under his leadership, the senate and interim rectorate have successfully set the course for the HfG Karlsruhe’s future. At the commencement of the summer semester 2019, he introduced the new professors to the interested public. Projects and new collaborations have earned the school heightened public interest while at the same time also showing the students a suspenseful way to the future. Through involvement in many partnerships, the academy has moreover established itself as a strong protagonist in the creative landscape of Karlsruhe.