Dieter Roelstraete is the curator at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago. His curatorial interests concern the relationship between art and politics, art as a species of knowledge, art work as intellectual labor, and the conception of exhibition-making as a form of writing. As a critic and theorist, he has lectured and published extensively on the art & research nexus, as well as the “problem” of pleasure in art. Other long-standing research interests concern the realist tradition and the enigma of thingness. Roelstraete was initially trained as a philosopher at the University of Ghent in Belgium; the long history of art’s tangled relationship with “theory” colors much of his curatorial and critical work.
At the Neubauer Collegium, Roelstraete has curated solo exhibitions by Jason Dodge, Pope.L, Martha Rosler, and Cecilia Vicuña, as well as group exhibitions featuring the work of Zachary Cahill and David Schutter among others. Prior to his appointment at the University of Chicago, Roelstraete served on the curatorial team convened by artistic director Adam Szymczyk to organize Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel in the spring and summer of 2017. As Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from 2012 until 2015, he organized Goshka Macuga: Exhibit, A (2012); The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology (2013); Simon Starling: Metamorphology (2014); The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music 1965 to Now (2015, co-curated with Naomi Beckwith); and Kerry James Marshall: Mastry (2016, co-curated with Ian Alteveer and Helen Molesworth; traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles). From 2003 until 2011 he was a curator at the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art (MuHKA) in his native Belgium, where he organized large-scale group exhibitions as well as monographic shows, including Emotion Pictures (2005); The Order of Things (2008); Liam Gillick and Lawrence Weiner—A Syntax of Dependency (2011); A Rua: The Spirit of Rio de Janeiro (2011); and Chantal Akerman: Too Close, Too Far (2012).
An exhibition dedicated to the phenomenon of the philosopher’s hut and organized at the Fondazione Prada in Venice in conjunction with that city’s 16th architecture biennial in 2018 forms the basis for a book he is currently preparing for publication by the University of Chicago Press.