RE-DEFINING POWER: Contemporary Conversations on the Role of Museums in Re-writing Histories

19 August 2020

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Join CIMAM's #4 webinar on Thursday 27 August 2020.

5:00 pm CEST

  • Malgorzata Ludwisiak, CIMAM Board Member, Independent Art Critic, Curator, Ph.D., Warsaw, Poland
  • Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy, Director of the institution formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
  • Wandile Kasibe, Public Programmes Coordinator of the Iziko Museums of South Africa, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Sethembile Msezane, Multi-award-winning Artist, Masters in Fine Arts, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Moderated by Ernestine White-Mifetu, CIMAM Board Member, and Director of the William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley, South Africa.

In the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States, arose a national and global call for justice to end the victimization and killing of black and brown people. Global movements such as BLACK LIVES MATTER and RHODES MUST FALL have been at the forefront of the current wave of protests calling out in their masses for a global reckoning of historical wrongs that continue to impinge on individuals and communities across all levels of contemporary society.

With this as its backdrop, museums and cultural institutions have been called upon to be proactive players in the call for change – to assist in correcting the skewed narratives that have for far too long left only one side of the story told, prompting renewed debates over the ethics of representing and glorifying (in the form of a public sculpture), a singular historical narrative of national identity and heroic leadership.

Colonial histories, notions of power and privilege, racism and the violence experienced by black and brown bodies are crucial subjects to define a discourse on historical politics and to provoke changes in the symbolic field. How should Museums and cultural institutions respond to these unprecedented global movements? How should Museums respond to the call to serve as custodians of these symbols of empire and oppression? How might the concept of decolonization contribute to the process of redefining the notion of history, memory, commemoration and the museum practice?

Malgorzata Ludwisiak, Ernestine White-Mifetu, Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy, Wandile Kasibe and Sethembile Msezane will talk about their recent experiences and challenges in the artistic and museum field and engage with the possibilities of imagining different models and modes of representing and interpreting histories, memories and collections.


  • Malgorzata Ludwisiak

Malgorzata Ludwisiak, Ph.D., Independent art critic and curator, member of CIMAM board – Chair of the Scientific Committee. She was a director of Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw (2014-2019), a vice-director of the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz (2008-2014), director of the International Łódź Biennale (2006) and initiator and director of Łódź Design Festival (2007). She curated a.o. El Hadji Sy. At First I Thought I Was Dancing (2016, CCA in Warsaw) and Correspondences. Modern Art and Universalism (with J. Lubiak; 2012-13, Muzeum Sztuki). As a lecturer and writer she focuses on the social role of contemporary art and its institutions.

  • Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy is director of the institution formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, as well as board member of Council in Paris and Creative Time in New York. Previously, she was curator of contemporary art at Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in Caracas and New York. Sofia has guest curated exhibitions for The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Kadist Art Foundation; she served as an agent in Documenta 13 (2012) in Kassel and artistic director of 9a Bienal do Mercosul (2013) in Porto Alegre.

  • Wandile Kasibe

Wandile Kasibe is a UCT PhD Candidate in Sociology, his research focuses on “Museums and the Construction of Race Ideologies”. As a student, Kasibe was involved in the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF), Fees Must Fall (FMF) movements which sought to inject ‘decolonial’ thinking within the context of the University. Kasibe is a Chevening scholar who holds a B-Tech Degree in Fine Art (Border Technikon), Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Art (University of Cape Town), MFA, MA in World Heritage (International Training Centre/ILO), and has graduated with a Masters Degree in Museum Studies at the School of Museum Studies at Leicester in the United Kingdom. He has published in various publications, served on numerious boards including the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) and travelled quite extensively in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Kasibe is currently a Public Programmes Coordinator of the Iziko Museums of South Africa.

  • Sethembile Msezane

Msezane holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. She is a multi-award winning artist whose work sits in prominent collections such as Iziko South African National Gallery (South Africa), Zeitz Mocaa (South Africa) and Royal Ontario Museum (Canada) amongst others. She has participated in major exhibitions such as Fotofest Biennial, Houston, USA (2020), 14th Curitiba International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Brazil (2019), Documenta 14, Greece & Germany ( 2017).

Rapid Response Webinars are free of cost and accessible only for CIMAM Members. Sessions are recorded and posted at the Members Only section of the CIMAM website for those who missed the time.

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