Defne Ayas
Since 2003
Works in United States of America

Defne Ayas is the Director of Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam as of January 2012. Before that, Ayas worked as a director of programs of the Prince Claus Fund Partnership of Arthub Asia and as an art history instructor at New York University in Shanghai. Ayas has also been a curator/programmer of PERFORMA since 2004, the biennial of visual art performance based in New York City, where she has managed the programming and curatorial partnerships with a consortium of 80+ cultural institutions across New York City and (co-) organized acclaimed projects with an international roster of artists and curators. She remains a curator-at- large at Performa.

Ayas' recent projects include Double Infinity"-an ambitious cultural exchange project with Van Abbe Museum in Shanghai (with Charles Esche & Davide Quadrio), Blind Dates (with Neery Melkonian) at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, as well as live works and projects for Performa09 by numerous artists including Ahmet Ogut, Yeondoo Jung, Rabih Mroue, Dexter Sinister, Paul Elliman, Guido van der Werve, Khatt Foundation, and Alicia Framis across Manhattan venues such as Asia Society, Art Production Fund Lab, PS122, Bidoun Magazine and the Marshall Chess Club. Ayas supervised Performa09's Writing Live program for emerging art critics and directed the biennial's Architecture & City focus, introducing first-time collaborations with Storefront for Art and Architecture, Common Room, Van Alen, Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and Public School (for Architecture). She also directed Performa's Futurism related research seminars on architecture, graphic design, and noise music in China (March-June 2009).

With Arthub's Davide Quadrio, Ayas also co-organized "The Making of the Silk Roads," an acclaimed performative symposium featuring 35 artists, curators and scholars across Asia (BUG, Bangkok, August, 2009), co-produced "RMB City Opera," a stage performance by Cao Fei in Turin, Italy (Artissima November, 2009), and Final Cut, a city-wide new media festival featuring live works by Christian Marclay and Feng Mengbo among others, in collaboration with the Shanghai Cultural Development Foundation in 2008.

At Performa07, Ayas presented Beijing-based “Long March Project” with projects by Qiu Zhijie and Xu Zhen throughout New York institutions including The China Institute, Museum of Chinese in Americas and The Studio Museum in Harlem (with Lu Jie). She installed "Bring Me the Head of.." by artist Serkan Ozkaya in New York and Shanghai restaurants, among many other projects, and organized “Open City,” the first show of Yoko Ono’s in Istanbul in 2008 (with Selim Birsel). In 2006, Ayas was a co-curator of “Mercury In Retrograde” at De Appel in Amsterdam and invited artist Michael Blum to re-stage the Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co., an established Jewish bank turned into a controversial looting institution during WWII in the Netherlands.

In 2005, Ayas worked extensively as the consortium liaison for Performa's first edition, supervising the participating venues' programming for the biennial, and acted as the artist liaison for artists such as Carey Young, Sislej Xhafa, Cliff Owens, and Melik Ohanian while studying at de Appel in Amsterdam and preparing "This May Be What Parallel Play Looks Like” for Sculpture Center, NYC, a video program featuring works Ahmet Ogut, Emily Jacir, Erkan Ozgen, Sener Ozmen, Jakup Ferri, and Yael Bartana.

In 2004, Ayas was the participating curator of public.exe: Public Execution, an exhibition exploring the definition, distribution, and reception of public art in the age of new media at Exit Art in New York and "Democracy is Fun?,” at White Box, NYC, in 2004 (both with Michele Thursz and Anne Ellegood). Ayas's actions have been reviewed by Art in America, New York Times, Frieze, LA Times, Asia Art Pacific, and Timeout New York.

Ayas has served (or continues to serve) as an advisor and consultant for a number of projects and institutions including Artissima, 8th Gwangju Biennial, Center for Contemporary Art in Kabul, Artist Pension Trust and has lectured throughout Asia, including at Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), Rogue Art (Kuala Lumpur), PIST (Istanbul), Zendai Museum, Moca Shanghai, Shanghai Literary Festival, China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, and Architectural Association London (Shanghai) as well as at the Museum of Arts and Design, Museum of Chinese in Americas (New York).

Ayas completed De Appel Curatorial Program in Amsterdam and received her Masters from ITP at NYU in 2003.
Discussions (3) Opportunities (2) Events (23) Jobs (0)

Personal Democracy Forum

Mon May 24, 2004 00:00 - Thu May 20, 2004
Discussion of new tools such as blogs within the political context-
high-profile event...!

The Personal Democracy Forum, produced by Andrew Rasiej, will bring together political figures, grassroots leaders, journalists and technology professionals to discuss the questions that lie at the intersection of technology and politics -- to take a realistic look at where we are now and where we are headed.

Hear about individual experiences that shaped strategy and practice on the campaign trail. Learn about emerging trends and applications that are redefining the relationships between candidates and voters, as well as among voters. Watch as the world of politics meets the world of information technology and listen to how individuals are defining their involvement in the political life of their country on their own terms. Find out what other forms of democracy will develop as technology takes root in society. Meet the politicians, the technologists, and the movers and shakers of the personal democracy movement.


Digital Culture Program: One Block Radius

Sat May 15, 2004 00:00 - Tue Apr 06, 2004

New Museum of Contemporary Art Presents One Block Radius

Presentation and Walking Tour
Saturday, May 15, 2004
2-3:45 PM

Participant, Inc.
95 Rivington Street

Since January 2004, artists Christina Ray and Dave Mandl


Transmission Series Launched at the New Museum of Contemporary Art

Fri Feb 20, 2004 00:00 - Wed Feb 18, 2004

Transmission Series Launched at New Museum of Contemporary Art

Public Program: Digital Culture Evening: Transmission (1)
Performance: Friday, February 20, 2004 6:30-8 PM
Show + Tell: Saturday, February 21, 200412 PM-4 PM
(An all-day opportunity to discuss the work with the artists on site)

Zenith Media Lounge
New Museum of Contemporary Art
583 Broadway

*** Thom Kubli and Sven Mann (Cologne, Germany) create a spatial sound environment where the principle of "transmission" is explored through a wireless FM transmitter system and listening stations. Determinale Verschweifungen provides a topology of fragmented electronic loops and microphone recordings of spatial ambiences and encourages the audience to interfere. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own radios to the venue or pick up one of the portable radios positioned in the site to select their own channels and manipulate the transmitters. The performance itself will take place on February 20 6.30-8pm, and the radio installation will remain on view until Sunday 22 February.

Determinale Verschweifungen is co-produced by the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Goethe-Institut New York.***

About Transmission Series
As part of its Digital Culture Evenings, the New Museum is launching the Transmission series. The series aims to expose the work of artists and scholars dealing with the concept of 'transmission


Games Programming Workshop with Artist Cory Arcangel at the New Museum

Thu Jan 29, 2004 00:00 - Wed Jan 14, 2004

Artist Cory Arcangel Hosts Games Programming Workshop in Conjunction with Killer Instinct

Digital Culture Evening
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Zenith Media Lounge
New Museum of Contemporary Art
583 Broadway

*** New York-based artist Cory Arcangel will host a games programming workshop in relation to the Killer Instinct exhibition. In this workshop, Arcangel will teach museum visitors creative approaches towards video gaming software. Various game-modification techniques and tools to be discussed include Commodore64 hobbiest cracking, psych abstraction, chipstyle, pixel graphics, and machinma. Participants will learn to make their own modifications.***

About Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct (December 12, 2003


Digital Culture Evening: Workshop with Cory Arcangel at New Museum

JAN 29, 2004 Digital Culture Evening 6:30 - 8PM

New York-based artist Cory Arcangel will host a games programming workshop as part of the Killer Instinct exhibition.

"Killer Instinct"
December 12, 2003 - February 1, 2004

Once considered a pastime for kids, games are now a full-fledged part of adult life, situated as a shared public culture not unlike television. Games come off the screen and to life in this exhibition including sculpture, video, painting, and, of course, Ataris and computers. Besides experimental hacks of commercial games, Killer Instinct features artists who use game hardware and software for social commentary as well as in the development of musical and filmic projects. Player, viewer, artist, curator or critic -- the cross-pollination of gaming and art spheres allows visitors to assume several of these roles during the course of the exhibition. Killer Instinct is organized by Anne Barlow and Rachel Greene.

For more information visit

About the Digital Culture Evenings

The New Museum's Digital Culture Evenings aim to provide an array of opportunities for emerging artists to create and present works using the most innovative technologies available and to familiarize the general visitor with digital media. Digital Culture Evenings include artist presentations, performances and interactive events, as well as theory and research based discussions about broader issues in digital culture. Topics encompass a variety of subjects in addition to art including commerce, entertainment, and science.

About the Zenith Media Lounge

The New Museum's Zenith Media Lounge is New York City's only museum space dedicated to the exhibition and exploration of digital art, experimental video and sound works. Located on the New Museum Store level, programming in the Zenith Media Lounge is ongoing and is always free.

About the New Museum of Contemporary Art

The New Museum of Contemporary Art, founded in 1977 and located in the heart of Soho, is the premier destination for contemporary art in New York City. With an annual schedule of dynamic exhibitions, the Museum presents the most innovative and experimental work from around the world. Debate and discussion about contemporary culture are encouraged through a broad range of educational programs, publications, performances, and new media initiatives. The New Museum recently announced plans to build a new, 60,000 square foot facility at 235 Bowery. Visit for more about the New Museum.