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  • May 31, 2022

Los Angeles MOCA Names New Chief Curator

Portrait of CLARA KIM. Courtesy the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. 

On May 25, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles announced Clara Kim as its new chief curator and director of curatorial affairs, beginning September 1.

Kim joins MOCA as the museum has embarked on a new era under Johanna Burton, whose tenure as executive director officially began in November 2021, following a rocky period for MOCA ever since the departure of its previous director Klaus Biesenbach in September 2021.

Born in Seoul and grew up in southern California, Kim departs London’s Tate Modern where she was the Daskalopoulos Senior Curator of International Art since 2016, and where she led a major survey of artist-filmmaker Steve McQueen in 2020 and the Turbine Hall commission by Kara Walker, “Fons Americanus,” in 2019. Kim was a co-curator of the 12th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, 2018. Before Tate, Kim worked as a senior curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and was previously the gallery director and curator at the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in Los Angeles.

Burton praised Kim’s “extensive experience commissioning, presenting, and contextualizing contemporary artists; leading global, interdisciplinary research initiatives; and strategically building collections.”

MOCA was founded in 1979 and was credited for making the downtown area of Los Angeles a destination for art viewers in the early 2000s. However, since 2008, MOCA has had five directors, including the controversial New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch in 2010–13, and lost two important chief curators due to clashes with the directors, including Paul Schimmel, who was dismissed by the museum’s board in 2012, and Helen Molesworth, who was fired by director Philippe Vergne in 2018.

Kim described Los Angeles as “a diverse, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic city,” which is “uniquely positioned to chart new paths and horizons for contemporary art and what museums should look like in the 21st century.”