A Conversation Between Sister Cities: Les Abattoirs and Atlanta Contemporary

Atlanta Contemporary and Les Abattoirs in Toulouse, France will partner for a dynamic conversation between their respective executive directors: Veronica Kessenich and Annabelle Ténèze. The conversation will center on how the two directors steward their organizations through these unprecedented times, with a focus on the relevance of promoting contemporary art and artists during COVID-19. In addition, the two women will speak to how their organizations navigate the importance of gender equity and addressing racism and inequality. This event will also provide an opportunity to further promote friendship and cultural understanding between Atlanta and Toulouse, which have been sister cities since 1974.

This event is co-organized by Atlanta Contemporary, Les Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie Toulouse, the Atlanta Office of the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in the United States, the City of Toulouse, and the City of Atlanta.

October 8, 12:30 p.m. EST (Atlanta) / 6:30 p.m. CET (France)


Annabelle Ténèze
A former student of the Ecole nationale des Chartes and the Institut national du Patrimoine (Paris), Annabelle Ténèze is chief curator and Director of les Abattoirs in Toulouse, France (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – FRAC Occitanie Toulouse) since 2016. Annabelle Ténèze was first curator of the graphic arts cabinet at the Picasso-Paris National Museum (2006 to 2012). She then heads the museum of contemporary art in Rochechouart until 2016. In Rochechouart Museum she has organized the solo exhibitions of Jules de Balincourt, Eduardo Basualdo, Tomaz Furlan, Raoul Hausmann, Folkert de Jong, Kent Monkman, Laure Prouvost and Carolee Schneemann. She has also co-organized several exhibitions dedicated to women artists (Paint, she Said and Lucy’s Iris. Contemporary African Women Artists in partnership with the MUSAC in León and the CAAM of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria).

Since her arrival at les Abattoirs, the following exhibitions have been presented: Daniel Spoerri: les dadas des deux Daniel, Around Nouveau Réalisme (in partnership with the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris), Suspended Animation (in partnership with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC), Medellín, A Colombian Story. From the 1950s to the present (in partnership with the Museo de Antioquia Medellín), Zero Gravity. An artistic Approach of the Space Adventure (in partnership with CNES), Picasso and the Exodus. A Spanish History of Art in Resistance (in partnership with the Musée national Picasso-Paris), the program of exhibitions I am a Native Foreigner, Viva Gina! A Lifetime of Art (in partnership with Mudima Foundation, Milano) as well as several monographic retrospective and projects : Joël Andrianomearisoa, Eduardo Chillida, David Claerbout, Béatrice Cussol, Hessie, Marguerite Humeau, Renaud Jerez, Jacqueline de Jong, Takesada Matsutani, Presence Panchounette, Laure Prouvost, Maya Rochat, Vivien Roubaud, Judit Reigl, Kevin Rouillard, Peter Saul, Carolee Schneemann, Gisèle Vienne, etc.
(Photo, on the left : ©Boris Conte)

Veronica Kessenich
As Executive Director, Veronica Kessenich stewards the mission and strategic plan of Atlanta Contemporary, guiding the artistic programming with an array of independent curators and program partners. Kessenich joined Atlanta Contemporary in June 2013 as Development Director and was appointed to the role of Executive Director in July 2015. Kessenich authored and executed the Capitalization Fund grant that underwrote Atlanta Contemporary’s transition to free admission which since implementation has seen a radical transformation in annual attendance – an over 109% increase.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Kessenich received her Bachelor’s Degree from Saint Mary’s College (IN) and her Master’s of Philosophy in Art History from St. Andrews University (Scotland). She has been active in the field of art as an art administrator, art historian, curator and consultant for over fifteen years. Beginning her career as Gallery Director at Atlanta’s prestigious Fay Gold Gallery, Kessenich has worked as a lecturer at Agnes Scott College, the Savannah College of Art & Design – Atlanta, and the Art Institute of Atlanta. In recognition of her contributions to the arts, Kessenich was named one of Atlanta’s 500 Most Powerful People (Atlanta Magazine, 2019), received the CCA Community Impact Award (Emory University, 2016) and was named one of Atlanta’s Women of Power (The Atlantan, 2015).
(Photo on the right: by Jan Rattia, courtesy of Veronica Kessenich)

Maurita N. Poole, Ph.D. (Moderator)
Maurita N. Poole, Ph.D. is director and curator at Clark Atlanta University Art Museum (CAUAM). She received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from Emory University, and her professional training was attained at Williams College Museum of Art, The Walters Art Museum, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.As the museum’s director, her emphasis is strengthening the organization’s infrastructure and providing opportunities for the next generation of museum professionals. She oversees the Tina Dunkley Fellowship in American Art, a collaborative Diversity in Art Museum Leadership Initiative (DAMLI) involving CAUAM, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), and the Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA). In addition, she is developing the Black Optics Artist Residency, a platform that connects artists of African descent from the American South to artists and institutions in the Global South.