Ellen Blumenstein (* 1976 in Witzenhausen) is a curator and writer on contemporary art. She holds an MA in literature, musicology and communication studies, and is currently based in Berlin. From 2013 to 2016 she was Chief Curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, where she curated the exhibitions “Fire and Forget. On Violence” (2015, co-curated by Daniel Tyradellis) and “Secret Surface. Where Meaning Materializes” (2016), among others.
In the 15 years before she took up this post, Blumenstein built an international career in the field of contemporary art, working among others in the team of documenta X in Kassel and at MoMA PS1 in New York. As an independent curator, she organized projects and exhibitions for many leading art institutions, including the Neue Galerie Graz, the CGAC in Santiago de Compostela, the Museo do Chiado in Lisbon and other museums in Great Britain, Iceland, Brazil and the United States.
Ellen Blumenstein’s curatorial practice is international in scope and often involves collaborating with visual artists and other curators to develop monographic and thematic exhibitions that explore the possibilities and limitations of contemporary art. In 2010 she founded Salon Populaire, a venue for discussion-based events in Berlin. It quickly became a major forum for debate on contemporary art and architecture, and as such filled a gap between institutional representation and artistic production. Since then, Blumenstein’s specialist knowledge of the conditions of cultural production and its potential for development has meant that she is regularly called upon to advise cultural foundations and political bodies.
Blumenstein was one of the founders of the cultural-political initiative “Haben und Brauchen”. She worked with the Spanish artist Dora García on her talk show KLAU MICH! at dOCUMENTA (13) (2013) in Kassel and was the curator responsible for the Icelandic pavillion at the Venice Biennale in 2011. She also curated the summer academy AGULHAS NEGRAS in São Paulo/Campos do Jordão, Brazil (2008) and the exhibition “Between Two Deaths” at the ZKM in Karlsruhe (co-curated by Felix Ensslin, 2007).
Before becoming its Chief Curator in 2013, Blumenstein had already worked at KW in Berlin from 1998 to 2005, during which time she organized and curated numerous exhibitions, including the much-debated group show “Regarding Terror: The RAF Exhibition” (co-curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Felix Ensslin, 2005).