Jenny Schlenzka, curator at MoMA PS1, is about to move from one old school building to another. In February, she will become the artistic director of Theater 122 – known as PS122 in a nod to the building’s former use as a public school.
Ms Schlenzka, 38, succeeds Vallejo Gantner, who announced in May that as soon as his replacement was found he would step down from the organization, a downtown innovative performance hub and annual meeting host reel partywhich begins on Tuesday.
At PS1 – which is also in a former school building, this one in Long Island City, Queens – Ms. Schlenzka created the Sunday Sessions program, which featured artists like Ann Liv Young and Justin Vivian Bond. Previously, she was assistant curator at PS1 subsidiary, the Museum of Modern Art, where she worked with artists including cerebral choreographers Jérôme Bel and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.
She will be the third artistic director in the history of PS122, founded in 1980, and its first female director. In an interview, Ms. Schlenzka said it was time for more women to lead arts institutions, in general.
“The theater world is very patriarchal,” she said. “Changing that is going to be exciting and it’s going to release new energy. New ideas will come. »
PS122 is in transition. The organization left its Manhattan First Avenue home – the public school – in 2011 to renovate and expand this 1894 building. The construction project was delayed early on and faced multiple setbacks. Still, the building is set to reopen in 2017. The fruits of Ms. Schlenzka’s programming will be visible from 2018.
Ms Schlenzka said she was looking forward to taking over an institution in the midst of change, ‘when you can really have an influence on how things are going’, as opposed to a well-established organization which has been ‘well oiled’ for the past . 30 years.
“Coming back to the building will be exciting,” she added. “But so will development and having a strategy to make the place sustainable.”