Since 2004, Esche has been Director of Van Abbemuseum. In 2010, he established the L’Internationale confederation together with 6 other European museums from Istanbul to Madrid. The initiative aims to construct a pan-European modern and contemporary art institution by 2017. Between 2000 and 2004 he was the Director of Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art in Malmo, Sweden. Before that Esche was at Tramway, Glasgow (1993-97) and founded the proto-academy in Edinburgh (1997-2001).
He is co-founder and co-director of Afterall Publishing with Mark Lewis. Afterall is a contemporary art publisher, which was launched in 1998 and is based at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. It publishes a four-monthly journal in partnership with M KHA, Antwerp, and the University of Chicago, the One Work of Art series, and Exhibition Histories in partnership with CCS Bard. Afterall also produces occasional readers such as Art and Social Change edited by Esche with Will Bradley.
This year, Esche will curate the 31st São Paulo Bienal with Galit Eilat, Pablo Lafuente, Nuria Enguita Mayo, and Oren Sagiv. He has co-curated a number of international contemporary art biennales and other events including: It Doesn’t have to be Beautiful Unless it’s Beautiful at National Gallery of Kosovo, Prishtinë, 2012; Strange and Close, CAPC, Bordeaux, 2011; An Idea for Living, U3 Slovene Triennale, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, 2011. In 2009 and 2007 he was co-curator with Khalil Rabah and Reem Fadda of the 2nd and 3rd RIWAQ Biennials, Ramallah, Palestine. In 2005 he curated the 9th International Istanbul Biennial with Vasif Kortun, November Paynter, and Esra Sarigedik ; and in 2002 the 4th Gwangju Biennale, Republic of Korea with Hou Hanru and Song Wan Kyung. In 2000, he curated Intelligence: Tate Triennial at Tate Britain, London with Virginia Button, and Amateur: Variable Research Initiatives at Kunstmuseum, Göteborg with Adam Szymczyk and Mark Kramer.
In 2012 he received the European Cultural Foundation’s Princess Margriet Award for Cultural Changemakers in Brussels and in 2013 the Minimum Prize from the Pistoletto Foundation, Biella. Esche was born in 1962 in England and lives between Edinburgh, Eindhoven and São Paulo.