João Ribas Appointed New Executive Director of REDCAT and Vice President for Cultural Partnerships

portrait of João Ribas
João Ribas has been appointed executive director of Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater in downtown Los Angeles. | Photo: Filipe Braga

This morning (Feb. 25, 2020), CalArts announced the appointment of João Ribas as the Steven D. Lavine Executive Director of REDCAT—CalArts’ downtown center for the performing and media arts—and Vice President for Cultural Partnerships.

Ribas, the former director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal, has built an internationally renowned curatorial practice. Working with artists from around the world, he’s organized numerous exhibitions internationally, including the work of Frances Stark, Amalia Pica, Nairy Baghramian, Rachel Rose, Nick Mauss, Sun Xun, The Otolith Group, and Martine Syms, among others.

“João’s experience working with diverse artists to present new work to audiences aligns with REDCAT’s mission as a multidisciplinary center for innovative, risk-taking work,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan. “And his championing of free expression aligns with the values integral to CalArts’ community of artists.”

“I have long followed REDCAT’s innovative program, and have worked with many of the same visual, performing, and media artists over the years,” Ribas said. “And the creativity that CalArts fosters has also been of long-standing inspiration, with its legacy and pivotal role in fostering innovation, critical engagement, and experimentation.” 

Prior to his work with the Serralves, Ribas held positions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center and the Drawing Center in New York. He curated the fourth edition of the Ural Biennial in 2017 and served as curator for the Portuguese Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.  

REDCAT’s new Executive Director João Ribas discusses the Portuguese art scene with Art Toronto.

Arts and culture have been at the center of Ribas’ life. Born in Braga, Portugal, in 1979, Ribas moved to Newark, NJ, in 1988 and stayed in the tri-state area for more than two decades. While in New York City in the mid-1990s and early aughts, Ribas was a founding member and bassist for the band The Mooney Suzuki, but writing and art criticism eventually drew him away from the touring of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

Ribas has taught at the Yale University School of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts in New York. His writing on the arts has been published in numerous publications and monographs, and in magazines and newspapers such as The Guardian, Artforum, Afterall, Artnews, Art in America, Frieze, Mousse, and Spike.

“As a writer and educator himself, João understands the importance of connecting our students to working artists as resources—as teachers of their practice—in both subtle and overt ways, ” noted CalArts Provost Tracie Costantino, who chaired the search committee through the nine-month process.

Ribas will work closely with longtime REDCAT team member Edgar Miramontes, who was also promoted to Deputy Executive Director and Curator. Miramontes, who has been with the CalArts venue since 2008, will be integral to leading the REDCAT staff and contributing to programming the forthcoming seasons.

“I’m really excited to be able to learn from this extraordinary community, both at CalArts and the larger community of LA, and to be able to contribute to REDCAT’s innovative, inclusive, experimental, and forward-thinking program, and its dedication of sharing the art of our time with its audience on campus, in LA, and beyond,” Ribas said.

Reporting directly to President Rajan, Ribas begins his CalArts/REDCAT tenure on June 1, 2020.

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