Paul O’Neill Appointed Artistic Director of Checkpoint Helsinki

The Board of contemporary arts organisation Checkpoint Helsinki announces the appointment of Dr. Paul O’Neill as Artistic Director of the organisation. O’Neill will join the organisation from New York, where he was Director of the Graduate Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College from 2013-17. He will begin in his new role in Helsinki in September.

“We are delighted to welcome Paul to work with us and we look forward to seeing where his vision and energy will take the organisation,” says Kaija Kaitavuori, Chair of the Board. “This is the first time a Finnish art organisation has appointed  a director who comes from abroad. It perfectly aligns with Checkpoint Helsinki’s mission to bring new models and fresh ways of thinking to the Finnish art scene. We believe that Paul’s experience of curating, writing, teaching and developing organisations will be beneficial to the whole art scene in Finland.”

“I am thrilled to be taking on the challenge of leading a new art organisation in Helsinki and developing its local, national and international standing,” says Paul O’Neill. “It is a rare opportunity to establish an organisation and its public programme from the outset. Whilst expanding upon the impressive work of Checkpoint and its dedicated Board, I look forward to building a work-together model for curatorial practice, where art, critical discourse, and its multiple publics are in constant dialogue with one another,” says Paul of his appointment.”

Paul O’Neill is widely regarded as one of the foremost research-oriented curators, and leading scholar of curatorial practice, public art and exhibition histories. Paul has held numerous curatorial and research positions over the last twenty years and he has taught on many curatorial and visual arts programmes in Europe and the UK. O’Neill is one of the most widely published authors in the field, most notably with The Culture of Curating, the Curating of Culture(s), published by MIT Press in 2012. He received his doctorate in visual culture from Middlesex University, London in 2007.

Paul has co-curated more than sixty curatorial projects across the world. He has been visiting international tutor in the de Appel Curatorial Program, Amsterdam since 2005, and was international research fellow with The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin between 2010-13. From 2007-2010, he worked with Situations, University of the West of England, Bristol, where he led the international research project Locating the producers, that looked at durational approaches to public art. He has held lecturing positions on the MFA in Curating, Goldsmiths, University of London and Visual Culture, Middlesex University amongst others. Between 2001 and 2003, he was the Curator of London Print Studio Gallery, He was Artistic Director of Multiples X from 1997-06, which he co-established with Ronan McCrea in 1997

Paul’s writing has been published in many books, catalogues, journals and magazines and was a regular contributor to Art Monthly. He is reviews editor for Art and the Public Sphere Journal and is co-editor of Afterall’s Exhibition Histories Series. He is on the editorial board The Journal of Curatorial Studies and FIELD – A Journal of Socially Engaged Art Criticism. He is editor of the curatorial anthology, Curating Subjects (2007), and co-editor of Curating and the Educational Turn  (2010), and Curating Research (2014) both with Mick Wilson, and co-published by de Appel and Open Editions (Amsterdam and London). His publications include Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art (Amsterdam, Valiz, 2011), co-edited with Claire Doherty and he is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), (Cambridge, MASS., The MIT Press, 2012). His most recent anthologies, The Curatorial Conundrum…, and How Institutions Think are co-edited with Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson and published with the MIT Press in 2016 and 2017 (forthcoming)). He recently curated two multi-faceted exhibition projects: We are the Center for Curatorial Studies for the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College (2016-17), and We are the (Epi)center, P! Gallery, New York (2016). He is currently working on the co-authored Durational Aesthetics: Time and Contemporary Art (London, Bloomsbury Press, 2018).


About Checkpoint Helsinki

Checkpoint Helsinki was founded in 2013 as a sustainable alternative for commerce-led city branding art initiatives. It is driven by art and artists’ fascinating power to establish a critical space within society. Checkpoint Helsinki commissions and produces the contemporary art of the future, inviting international artists and curators to work in Finland. The organisation actively engages in public debate, campaigns and projects with the aim to support the lively and diverse art scene. It works in collaboration with local organisations without one fixed venue.

Checkpoint Helsinki was put on hold in autumn 2016, but thanks to a three-year grant from the Kone Foundation we were able to begin a relaunch of the organisation in spring 2017. The relaunch will involve an overhaul of our operations: the organisation will be given a new name and also new staff to work with Paul O’Neill. In autumn 2017, Checkpoint Helsinki will present Uncanny Interdependence, a project curated by Joanna Warsza that looks at connections between Finnish independence and the October Revolution in Russia. The project is a sequel to the Finnish Landscape exhibition shown at the Seurasaari open-air museum in summer 2016.

Checkpoint Helsinki’s previous projects include curatorial projects by Ahmed Al-Nawas, Joanna Warsza and Clark House Initiative. The Next Helsinki, international competition of ideas for urban development: a handbook on Finnish arts policy, a conference on open-ended models for art organisations, as well as commissions by Goldin+Senneby, Khaled Jarrar, Public Movement, Bita Razavi, Ahmet Öğüt, and many others.