Roel Arkesteijn is a curator and author interested in forms of artistic engagement, 'art for social change' and activism. Currently, he is a guest professor for an Art & Ecology programme and co-chair of the research group Body and Material Reinventedat the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. From 2008-2021, he has been working as a curator of contemporary art at Museum Het Domein in Sittard, the Netherlands, where he drew attention to artists who are engaged with social or political issues, are interested in gender problems, act as bridge builders between different cultures, or actively intervene in ecological situations. Within this framework, he has made exhibitions of, among others, Fernando Bryce, Sarah Vanagt, Mel Chin, Leon Golub, Roger Ballen, José Bedia, Jota Castro, Mark Dion, Eugenio Dittborn, Patricia Johanson, Brandon Ballengée, The Yes Men, Koen Vanmechelen, Betye Saar, Basia Irland, Nils Norman, Chéri Samba and Joseph Sassoon Semah.
Arkesteijn concluded his study of art history at Leiden University in 1999 with a doctoral thesis on the reception of Joseph Beuys in the Netherlands. Since then he has worked as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem (1999), the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam (2000-2001) and at the GEM, museum of contemporary art, in The Hague (2002-2007). For the GEM, he curated exhibitions by, among others, Raymond Pettibon, Ni Haifeng, Marcel van Eeden, Elke Krystufek, Jimmie Durham, Hans Op de Beeck, Chen Zhen, Ricardo Brey, Daniel Pflumm and Yoshitomo Nara.
Arkesteijn has been a regular guest lecturer at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Staatliche Akademie der Bildendenden Künste in Karlsruhe and the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK) in Ghent. As a guest curator, he has also made exhibitions for the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, the Institut Néerlandais in Paris, and compiled a book and exhibition on Nancy Spero for De Appel in Amsterdam. Other projects include Respect! Forms of communityin Marrakech, commissioned by the Mondriaan Foundation (2005), Drawing Typologiesin the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2007), Hilma af Klintin the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem (2010), Robert Smithson in Emmen. Broken Circle / Spiral Hill Revisitedin Emmen and Siegen (2011) and herman de vriesat the Erasmus House in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Framer Framed in Amsterdam (2015-2016). In 2014, his proposal for an exhibition by Ellen Gallagher made it to the shortlist for the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015. From 2010 to 2013, and from 2016-2019, Arkesteijn was a member of the Visual Arts and Design Committee of the Raad voor Cultuur in The Hague. In 2018, he guest-curated an exhibition and lecture programme around the Japanese artist Nishiko for Stroom in The Hague. In recent years, he was affiliated with the CAIRN in Digne-les-Bains, France. Currently, he is a guest curator at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. His exhibition Botanical Madness. Contemporary Art and the Plant Revolutionis scheduled to open in May 2021.