Sønke Gau, born in Hamburg in 1972, lives and works as a curator and art critic in Zurich and Berlin. Since 2010 he has been director of the project “Insitution of Critique” at Institute for Theory (ith), Zurich University of the Arts.
Along with Katharina Schlieben he made up the curatorial team at Shedhalle Zurich. Their curatorial concept was based on projects with a thematic approach that are developed over a longer period of time, approximately one year: “The mental comma instead of the full stop” as a curatorial strategy. In 2004/5, the thematic series “Spectacle, pleasure principle or carnivalesque?” explored the concept of the carnivalesque in the context of an activist approach and a strategically staged spectacle. In 2005/2006 the programme, entitled “Colonialism without colonies? Relationships between tourism, neo-colonialism and migration” examined the legacy of colonial practice both past and present.
Sønke Gau studied cultural science and aesthetics in Hildesheim. From 2003 to 2004 he worked as project manager for the 3rd berlin biennial for contemporary art (curated by Ute Meta Bauer). Between 2000 and 2003 Gau worked as a curator and exhibition manager at Künstlerhaus Wien. As curator of the “Passagegalerie” he realised a series of different projects, and in 2002/2003 he and Katharina Schlieben curated the project “site-seeing. disneyfication of cities?”. In 2000/2001 Gau worked at the Institute for contemporary art at the Academy of fine arts in Vienna.
In addition to lecturing posts in several different academies and universities, Gau has been a member of the Austrian branch of the AICA (The International Association of Art Critics) since 2002 and his contributions regularly appear in publications and art magazines such as Camera Austria or springerin. Along with Kathatrina Schlieben he was editor of publications like "site-seeing. disneyfizierung der städte?" (bbooks, Berlin 2003), "Spektakel, Lustprinzip oder das Karnevaleske?" (bbooks, Berlin 2008), "work to do! Selbstorganisation in prekären Arbeitsverhältnissen" (Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnber, 2009) as well as ten issues of the "Shedhalle Zeitung" (Zürich 2004-2009).