The travel grant of the Getty Foundation enabled me to attend the CIMAM 2014 Annual Conference on a very significant theme Museums in Progress: Public interest, private resources?
Contemporary art is booming in India but it is primarily because of private initiatives, as a result its impact on national life is negligible. People’s engagement with public museums and institution is much higher than their engagement with private sector. For the majority, contemporary art remains irrelevant. In recent years, there have been several private initiatives which intend to focus on knowledge dissemination and engagement with communities apart from looking into the economic pursuits. Despite this, common people find it difficult to connect with the private museums and galleries. In order to develop wider public participation in contemporary art, a partnership between the public and private, is extremely needed. In fact, contemporary art can touch people’s life in a real and meaningful way in India only if public and private works in collaboration and not see each other in suspicion.
The exposure to the wide range of perspectives at CIMAM conference made me aware of how professionals, from different countries and regions, are tackling different issues in their distinctive socio-political and economic situations. Their goal, however, is common i.e public benefit. I have been immensely benefited from the ideas shared at the CIMAM conference and look forward to tailor them to meet requirements of my own institution in the said field.
Olav Velthuis and Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas’ talks were particularly significant because of their analogy with Indian contemporary art scenario. Olav Velthuis rightly pointed that the benefits of current boom in global art markets is reaching to a very few; this is particularly true in India.
Disparity between the public and private investment in contemporary art is leading to the exploitation of emerging professionals as well as artists in the country. The imbalance is also hampering research in the field for many private galleries as the collector would not allow the scholars to access their collection. The issue raised by Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas about the malpractices proliferating in the art market is also a matter of concern and needs more deliberation.
CIMAM’s Annaul Conference has broadened my worldview on contemporary world art. I got to know about art scene in many other countries which does not form a part of our curriculum but is extremely important for a better understanding of global contemporary art scenarios.