Belén Montoliú

Zurichsee Connections-May-June 2018 Influential Woman.

Belén Montoliú Curator at Festspiele Zurich.

Belén Montoliú has been an active set and costume designer for theater, opera, and film in Germany and Spain since 2006. Born 1979 in Madrid, she studied Fine Arts at Complutense University in Madrid and Costume Design at Berlin Akademie der Künste.

She has worked with directors such as Rodrigo Garcia, Peter Atanassow, Marco Carniti, Karoline Gruber, Miriam Tscholl and Amy Stebbins. Her work has been seen at institutions including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the National Theater (CDN) in Madrid, the Staatstheater Dresden, the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Munich Music Biennial.

Since October 2016, she has served as Chief Curator of the Festspiele Zurich, which will take place from June 1-24, 2018.

1. So tell us Belén, when did you start with Festspiele Zurich ?

I started working as Chief Curator of the Festspiele Zurich in 2016. The Festspiele Zurich is organised biennially in conjunction with the Opera Zurich, Schauspielhaus Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and other city and cantonal cultural institutions (31 institutions in total in this edition). Under to a common one unifying theme, the festival provides the occasion for a summer encounter of the all artistic disciplines which that reflects the diversity of Zurich’s cultural life.

2. When and where can we enjoy this festival? 

The festival will take place from June 1st to 24th, and audiences will be able to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities at both Swiss cultural institutions and on the streets of Zurich. One of the most important objectives of this season is to take the festival out to the streets. For this reason, we have positioned the festival around one of the most central squares of Zurich, Münsterhof.

This focal point includes the artistic installation “Future Forest”, a project that represents the outcome of a competition launched by Festspiele Zürich and HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil. Professor Mark Krieger and Viola Thiel, Landscape Architect, and the two students Regula Luder and Nadine Jost created the project together with me.

3. What is the ‘motto’ of this year’s edition and its highlights?

The theme of this year’s festival is “Beauty/Madness”. Our program includes many interesting artists and events, but if you ask me, I would recommend: The opening party, which will feature a flahsmop of 430 children from the Zurich Conservatory of Music (MKZ); the open-air music concert—organized by the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich—the Family Day, where children can experience adventures led by storytellers, magicians, and a chef; The Beauty Campus, a kind of research fair, where we will delve into the countless facets of beauty and madness; the exhibition “Fashion Drive” in the Kunsthaus Zurich; or the Cagall concerts in Fraumünster church, choreographed by the great dancer Antonio Ruz.

4. Why did you choose Zurich among all the Swiss cities to celebrate the Festspiele festival?

The Zurich Festival has a long history. It was founded in 1996 following the June Festival Weeks (1921- 1993). Moreover, Zurich is a city with a great cultural scene, and many possibilities when it comes to programming a festival such as this.

5. To whom do you owe your success as curator?

I owe it to the perseverance and enthusiasm I put in my work, as well as to the many people who have trusted and supported me during its development. I owe it to my family, and my husband, without whose support none of this would be possible.

6. To you, art ..

A form of expression. A way of moving, of telling, of transmitting something. A way of asking questions.

7. What do you enjoy during your spare time?

I like reading thriller novels, eating at good restaurants, and spending time with my family and friends.

8. Where would we find you in Europe?

It’s easy to find me in Madrid, Zurich, Berlin, or Nuremberg.

9. And your favorite travel destination?

Spain, England and as a city Copenhagen.

10. What magazines and websites inspire you?

I like to read magazines like Dummy, Sleek, I-D, Neo-2 or Tendencias and I often visit Websites like Pinterest, Archilovers, Nachtkritik, Warholian…

11. What food would we always find in your fridge?

Strawberries and Greek yoghourt—and of course and a bottle of red wine near the fridge.

12. And finally, what item identifies you?

I like to take on difficult challenges, and overcome them. I am a creative and social person, who always ties to keep on a smile.


 Photo credit: Stephan Minx

Belén Montoliú