Save the date: CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference

27 April 2021

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Since 1962, the Annual Conference of CIMAM, the International Committee for Museums of Modern Art, has brought together prominent figures and opinion leaders in the contemporary art museum sphere in order to present, debate, and exchange ideas on the main topics of interest and current trends that have a direct influence on the professional management of museums.

Due to the pandemic, CIMAM postponed its 2020 Annual Conference to 2021. This important event will now be held on November 5-7, hosted as initially planned by the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz and the NOMUS Museum of New Art in Gdansk (Poland).

This year's conference will offer a hybrid format with the programs adapted to physical and virtual scenarios, to facilitate access and attendance for all CIMAM audiences to reflect on a keenly debated topic:

UNDER PRESSURE. 
MUSEUMS IN TIMES OF XENOPHOBIA AND CLIMATE EMERGENCY

Day 1: Conflicts, Crises, and the Politics of Growth 
Day 2: Museums as Spaces for Recognizing Differences
Day 3: New Perspectives on Climate and Commonality

While the pandemic appears to be the most pressing challenge today, it is merely a vector of more global political and environmental changes. The conference will address the roles of artists and museums in this dramatically changing global situation. How can artists be agents of change, and museums be places to test proposals for the communities of the future? Can museums guide processes of political and/or technological solutions?

During the three days of discussions, the conference will focus on the two interconnected current crises of Xenophobia and Climate Change, and the sometimes hidden or unexplored connections between the two.

Keynote speakers and relevant case-study presentations will show how institutions, artists, and thinkers working together can provide practical laboratories concerning these emerging issues and offer methodological tools to combat discriminatory and nationalistic tendencies in an increasingly divisive and divided world.

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Main topics of discussion

  • 1st Day / Friday: Conflicts, Crises, and the Politics of Growth

As a preview of the subjects to be debated, the first day of the conference will examine closely how xenophobia and the climate emergency are intertwined, their commonalities, and the most recent institutional and curatorial responses to them. If the Anthropocene has been born out of a capitalist acceleration that is reaching its peak, what will happen next, and how can museums further the process of rethinking their subjectivities?

  • 2nd Day / Saturday: Museums as Spaces for Recognizing Differences

The second day of the conference will shed light on the possible role of museums as spaces for recognizing differences and learning to respect them. Museums today face fierce xenophobic reactions and emotions fostered for political and economic reasons. Is there a way of addressing these reactions at the level of institutional programming? How can an art institution evolve to create platforms for a better understanding of difference?

  • 3rd Day / Sunday: New Perspectives on Climate and Commonality

The aim of the third day of the conference, to be held in Gdansk, is to go beyond disciplinary thinking in addressing the responsibility of museums in times of climate emergency, tackling not only the natural environment but also the atmospheres of the commonplace. Being aware that our material and social environments are not separate entities, it is essential to look towards unique research and practice fields that represent transdisciplinary approaches toward the environments we inhabit. How can we be more attentive, responsible, and engaged in the process of making museums more sustainable in the broadest sense?

Invited speakers

Alex Baczyński-Jenkins, artist and choreographer, Berlin/Warsaw; Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, The University of Chicago, Chicago; Binna Choi, Director, Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Amsterdam; T.J. Demos, Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in Art History and Visual Culture, and Director of the Center for Creative Ecologies, UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz; Jarosław Lubiak, Dr. Art College, Szczecin; Otobong Nkanga, visual artist, Antwerp; Oleksiy Radynski, filmmaker and writer, Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv; Joanna Sokołowska, Curator, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz; Maristella Svampa, writer, sociologist, Dina Huapi; Pelin Tan, Senior Researcher, Center for Arts, Design and Social Research, Mardin, and Hilke Wagner, Director Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden.


The CIMAM Annual Conference offers three days of keynote lectures on the most pressing issues facing the sector and presents a great opportunity to strengthen networking in a professional environment that promotes new projects and connections.

Besides the program of lectures, the museum team of Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz and the NOMUS Museum of New Art in Gdansk are organizing visits to local exhibitions to forge discussions away from the capital, helping to make the conference a space for intellectual exploration and research that more conservative venues are not always able to offer.