"It is necessary to bring to the consciousness of state institutions that art is one way of articulating and processing problems"

3 January 2022

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In 2021, 50 contemporary art curators, researchers, and museum professionals from 32 different countries were awarded support to attend the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference, in-person and online.

For the first time, and thanks to the generous support of The Getty Foundation who sponsored the virtual platform, 27 grantees attended the conference online, while 23 attended onsite.

Launched in 2005, CIMAM’s Travel Grant Program is designed to foster cooperation and cultural exchange between contemporary art curators and museum directors in emerging and developing economies and their counterparts in other regions of the world.

This grant was generously funded by Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow.

Lilit Hovhannisyan's Conference Report

It was a great honor for me to participate in the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference "Under Pressure. Museums in Times of Xenophobia and Climate Emergency" this year. First of all, I would like to thank you for organizing everything at a high level, inviting exciting speakers, and raising such essential questions. Personally, all the speakers' presentations were very interesting for me, but I especially want to single out a few.

First of all, I was pretty impressed by visual artist Otobang Nkanga's presentation. It showed how art could voice serious environmental issues and make your message more influential and heart-touching through performance. The speeches of professor Dipesh Chakrabarty, T. J. Demos, visual artist Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, curator Joanna Sokolowska contain crucial statements. It was precious to communicate with other conference participants online, make new contacts, listen to the opinions of other experts.

It is indescribable how important it was for my professional career to participate in this conference, to address the issues under discussion more seriously and in-depth. It became more evident to me that the challenges that the climate emergency creates also provides opportunities, for instance, to deal with inequalities and build healthier, more resilient communities, to address intergenerational and global injustices associated with the emergency, to change current levels of consumerism and excessive use of resources. We need to decide what vision of the future we hold in our society. Can we find ways of living that protect both the planet and our health? It is necessary to bring to the consciousness of state institutions that art is one way of articulating and processing problems with xenophobia and climate emergency and sharing envisaged solutions. In my museum activities, I will try to increase the number of educational programs on environmental issues and tolerance, help the young generation understand the impact of global warming today, and increase "climate literacy" among them.

It's worth mentioning that Armenia has faced xenophobia and environmental problems during the 44-day war in September this year. There is ample evidence that Azerbaijan used phosphorus and incendiary munitions to start large forest fires in Armenian-controlled areas in Karabakh. Videos of the use of white phosphorous started appearing on social media outlets in early November. From time to time, xenophobic statements are made by the country leader about the removal of Armenians from the face of the earth․ I have to confess that when it comes to awareness of severe environmental and xenophobic issues, public support of the international community can be pretty essential. I realized during this conference that only by uniting our efforts and supporting each other can we meet the global challenges we all face.