Priscila Arantes

Chief curator and Artistic director, Paço das Artes, Sao Paulo, Brazil

The theme of the CIMAM this year touched on a fundamental point in what concerns the responsibilities, function and role of museums. The event took place over three days and was marked by a broad and variegated set of lectures, talks and roundtable discussions formed largely by museum directors and curators, but also by artists and theorists. The diversity of discourses was further marked by the speakers’ place of origin: Spain, England, Italy, Paraguay, Australia, France, among others.

The opening roundtable event, which included a lecture delivered by the thinker and professor of the University of Barcelona, Marina Garcés, set the tone of the event to a certain extent. In a clear address, Garcés presented with a clear address the trajectory of culture, its role and function, from modernity to contemporaneity, underscoring its importance in the construction of subjectivities. It could be said that although Garcés’ speech didn’t focus specifically on museum-related issues, it shed light on a moment of crisis and change in the field of culture and consequently on the role of institutions, such as the museum.

Therefore, many of the key issues addressed in the event related to rethinking and creating new strategies for action within the scope of the museum, be it by means of new curatorial formats and projects, by opening dialogues with the context, and also through the creation of new documentation and archive strategies.

On the other hand, albeit not less importantly, the possibility of meeting and coming into contact with so many museum colleagues who work in museums set in very different realities and bring a wealth of experience to the table was greatly enriching, not only for exchanging experiences and for establishing contacts, but above all to foster the awareness that the museum institution does not have to follow a universal model, but is actually an apparatus that comes into being through the relation with the reality and cultural context of each particular country.

I am deeply grateful to the Getty Foundation Award for providing me the opportunity of attending the event, which, as curator of a Brazilian institution, was extremely enriching and stimulating.