Tokyo 2015 Report and videos online

We are happy to share the CIMAM 2015 Conference Report with information about the delegates, the budget and the travel grantees’ reports. You can also watch the conference sessions at CIMAM TV.

→ CIMAM 2015 Conference Report
→ CIMAM TV

President’s report

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Allow me first of all to express my best wishes for the New Year. As this report will show, 2015 has been a period of achievement and well as presenting serious challenges to our organization.

I will begin by sharing the results of a very successful Annual Conference, probably one of the best organized and well attended in our history. The 2015 CIMAM Conference took place between November 7 and 9, hosted and organized by the Mori Art Museum, the National Art Center, Tokyo and with the generous support of public institutions and private sponsors from Japan. A total of 260 delegates accounted for the highest attendance in our history and this is partly explained by the participation of so many Japanese delegates, supported by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. There were also 28 travel grant recipients, whose attendance was generously provided by The Getty Foundation, the Fundación Cisneros/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and the Gwanju Biennale Foundation.

The various papers delivered by the speakers throughout the Conference were also of the highest quality and interest. The program for the first two days was structured around an introductory keynote speech, followed by the presentation of Perspectives in the form of short case studies. The last day was devoted exclusively to Perspectives followed by a panel discussion. The format was designed to combine academic and more scholarly discourse with the dynamics of debate and discussion allowing as many delegates to participate as possible.

The diversity of experiences, geographical and institutional contexts which the speakers represented was exceptionally wide, and reinforced the plurality of opinions and modes at play in museums and galleries across the world.

Returning to Japan, twenty years on from the Tokyo CIMAM conference of 1995 has enabled some delegates to renew their knowledge of the city, its museums and cultural institutions. For others this was a first introduction to the art museums and institutions in Tokyo, the epicenter of a vibrant culture with a very dynamic modern and contemporary art scene.

The themes explored through Conference responded to three major questions: Is the museum still a place for debate? with the keynote speech given by Patricia Falguières. She approached the theme of freedom of expression in museums within the tradition of Western liberal democracies. Perspectives were then given by Mika Kuraya, Jack Persekian, Brooke Andrews, Georg Schöllhammer and Hedwig Saxenhuber, each of whom offered concrete case studies based on local experience. Covering a range of  art historical and institutional practices, including perspectives from the artist as well as curators’ views and experiences. On the second day, under the generic title How has modernism been perceived globally? Professor Shigemi Inaga offered an insightful analysis on the specific relations between forms and aesthetic values in Japanese culture. Hamad Nassar, Slavs and Tatars, Eugene Tan and Mariana Botey presented their subjects of research from their very different institutional and artistic backgrounds. Day three addressed the question of a global audience for art in the age of technological communications and geographically dispersed centres of cultural activity. Speakers Bose Krishnamachari, Wong Hoy Cheong, Peggy Levitt and Anton Vidokle contributed to expand the session’s polymorphic interests.

Special mention must be made of the parallel program designed by the Mori Art Museum team, inviting delegates to experience the great diversity and quality of museums, collections and exhibition spaces in Tokyo where we were graciously received by each organization.

For many years, it has been the intention of the Conference’s organization to extend knowledge of areas and institutions in the vicinity of the Conference’s location. On the two days following the conference, a group of delegates continued to the Teshima and Naoshima Islands where we were hosted by Benesse Art-site and the Fukutake Foundation. The visit began in Teshima, which is the site of numerous public art projects, both in rural, urban and natural environments. The trip to Naoshima included visits to the museums and art installations that are spread throughout the island’s landscape. Among the amazing projects is the world-known Chichu museum, built by Tadao Ando to host Monet’s Water Lilies, significant works by James Turrell and Walter de Maria as well as a monographic museum dedicated to the work of the Korean artist Lee Ufan. The post-conference tour finished with a visit to Hiroshima, its Memorial and the Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art.

In compliance with CIMAM regulations, the General Assembly of our organization took place on the morning of November 9. The members were informed about the registration process of CIMAM as a cultural association under Spanish law and our new status as Affiliated Organization of ICOM. Regarding the registration, I reported that the procedure is being monitored by the Spanish authorities and depends on administrative documentation to be completed. We are somewhat later than anticipated but with the help of former Board members Manuel Borja-Villel and María de Corral, we look forward to a successful conclusion. I should remind our membership that this new platform will allow CIMAM to provide legal employment for the CIMAM office and the professionalization of our management. It will also then be the possible for CIMAM to receive economic donations, in order to strengthen its long term sustainability. As explained by the President of ICOM, Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz, our previous status as an International Committee of ICOM did not permit the self-administration of our resources.

At the conclusion of the conference the resignations of Charles Esche and Vasif Kortun as Board members of CIMAM were made public. Before the Conference they were invited to participate by Skype on the Board meeting of November 8 where they complied with the Board’s request to withhold the announcement of their decision until after the conclusion of the Conference. Abdellah Karroum also tendered his resignation as the Conference reached its end. Their reasons and motivations were communicated through the CIMAM web page. In the discussions that followed, Kathy Halbreich and Ann Goldstein also tendered their resignations as members of the CIMAM Board, which is now composed by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Philipp Kaiser, Mami Kataoka, Kian Chow Kwok, Elizabeth Ann MacGregor, Frances Morris, Marcela Römer, Jaroslaw Suchan, Patricia Sloane as Secretary-Treasurer and myself as President. We deeply regret and lament each and every one these resignations and this unfortunate turn of events.

Barcelona, February 2016
Bartomeu Marí, President of CIMAM