Ayas, Defne

Defne Ayas (b. Istanbul) is Director of Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art since January 1st, 2012. She heads to Rotterdam from New York, where she has served as a curator of Performa – the visual art performance biennial of New York City – since 2004, and from Shanghai, where she has acted as a co-founding director of Arthub Asia – a contemporary art initiative devoted to art creation and exchange across Asia – since 2007. Ayas was also a faculty member of contemporary art and new media at the New York University in Shanghai for the past five years.
Prior to joining Arthub Asia and Performa, she coordinated the New York-based New Museum of Contemporary Art’s public and new media programming. Ayas has recently served as a curatorial advisor to the 8th Shanghai Biennale (China), and as a publication advisor to the 8th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea) in 2010. Defne Ayas completed De Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam and received her Masters degree from ITP – Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Participated in:

Director Defne Ayas co-curator of 6th Moscow Biennale

Witte de With Director Defne Ayas co-curates the 6th Moscow Biennale, a think tank in real time over ten days HOW TO GATHER? ACTING IN A CENTER IN A CITY IN THE HEART OF THE ISLAND OF EURASIA Curators:  Bart De …Read more


End Note(s)

Over the course of two years, from 2012 to 2014, Moderation(s) saw a sprawling ecology of artists, curators, and writers gather around different formats of inhabitation, production, and exhibition making. Essays were viewed as works of fiction, language as image, …Read more


WdW Review

Building on its long history of framing and instigating debate, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art presents WdW Review, a new online platform aimed at informing our ever-expanding spheres of action in an age of constant reformations be they aesthetic, geographic, economic, communal, ecological, and even spiritual. This project seeks to foster a new collegium of knowledge partners in a purpose-built infrastructure so as to address how the world is shaped today as a consequence, or in spite of national, international, and other group ideologies.Read more


Shanghai Biennale Curatorial Presentation

Following an introduction by Qiu Zhijie, artist and the Artistic Director of the 9th Shanghai Biennale, this event brings together select curators of participating City Pavilions to discuss and make transparent their thoughts on the framework of the 9th Shanghai Biennale.Read more


Moderation(s) by Heman Chong

Moderation(s) brings together an international group of artists, curators, and writers who will participate in a year-long program of contemporary discourse and production between Witte de With and Spring Workshop. Within this framework, Witte de With invited Heman Chong, a Singaporean artist, curator, and writer, to steer the program which will involve more than fifty artists and engender a conference, three exhibitions, three residencies and a book of short stories. Read more



Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam) and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam co-host the symposium I AM FOR AN ART CRITICISM THAT… On two successive afternoons and evenings—one at each site respectively—an international roster of art writers are brought together – with a focus on the Dutch context and how it translates to an international one. The symposium is organized on the occasion of the 2012 Prijs voor de Jonge Kunstkritiek (Young Art Critic’s Prize).Read more



WORKSHOP: Mapping the Art World by artist and activist Burak Arikan
Introduction by Bik Van der Pol and Defne Ayas
Wednesday 9 May 2012, 12 – 7 PMRead more



EVERYONE FOR THEMSELVES Discussing the Ethics and Economics of Art. A day-long symposium (Saturday 12 May), workshop (Wednesday 9 May) and a week of homework screenings (9-13 May). Read more