Liverpool Biennial Director Fatos Üstek Resigns After Clash with Board

Liverpool Biennial Director Fatos Üstek Resigns After Clash with Board

Fatos Üstek has resigned from her position as director of the Liverpool Biennial after seventeen months on the job in the wake of a disagreement with the biennial’s board of trustees. Board members Fiona Banner and John Sharples resigned in support of Üstek. According to Artnews, all three left in October after Üstek and the board, which was characterized in The Art Newspaper as unsupportive, disagreed over the scope of her role.Originally scheduled to take place from July to October 2020, the Liverpool Biennial, like so many fairs and biennials worldwide, was put on hold this past March owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Üstek was forced to furlough thirteen employees and then spent the summer attempting to navigate the biennial’s shifting landscape without the support of the board. During this time, Manuela Moscoso, senior curator of Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo and the curator of the 2020 Liverpool Biennial, petitioned the board and was allowed to remain in Berlin, where she was living, until the biennial’s installation in 2021.“Governance issues with a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities, and processes not being followed, taken together made my role untenable,” said Üstek said in a statement. “I am sad that I cannot continue to lead the amazing Biennial team in delivering the coming and future editions. Liverpool is an exciting and dynamic city and I am immensely grateful for the support of a strong network of colleagues who are making incredible advancements in the arts and culture.”The board had initially pursued Üstek for the role of director, a job that had has been held by only three people since 1998. In a statement, biennial chair Kathleen Soriano said only, “We are all deeply grateful for Fatos’ contributions to the Biennial. We would like to thank her for her work during these last difficult months, facing all the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic with energy and fortitude.”Samantha Lackey, who heads collections and exhibitions at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, UK, has been appointed interim director of the Liverpool Biennial, whose next iteration is expected to take place in 2021.

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