Museums in Eastern Europe Under Pressure?

Jaroslaw Suchan, November 2021, Lodz. Photo by HAWA.

PR 27 July 2021

Introduction to the topics to be discussed during the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference

On September 2 – CIMAM will hold a webinar to introduce and present the main topics that will be discussed during the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference, which will take place from November 5–7 at the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz and NOMUS New Art Museum / Branch of the National Museum in Gdansk, Poland.

This year's conference, to be held in a hybrid format, will invite attendees to reflect on an urgent debated topic, "Under Pressure: Museums in Times of Xenophobia and Climate Emergency," and the Webinar will address the critical issue of modern and contemporary art as an object of xenophobia by populist politicians, with a particular focus on recent developments in the cultural landscape in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, the host country of the upcoming CIMAM Annual Conference.

Are modern and contemporary art subject to xenophobia by populist politicians?

The online meeting will introduce the local context and some of the key issues that will unfold in November 2021. The Webinar will feature museum directors and former directors who will showcase the changing types of political and economic pressures imposed on institutions in the region. The overview will be rounded out by Mikołaj Iwański, an academic and social activist committed to fighting for the welfare of artists in Poland.

Invited speakers to this webinar will be Zdenka Badovinac, curator and writer, former director of Moderna galerija, Ljubljana; Barnabás Bencsik, curator and founding director at ACAX | Agency for Contemporary Art Exchange, Budapest; Mikołaj Iwański, director of the Department of History and Art Theory in the Faculty of Painting and New Media, Academy of Art, Szczecin and Jaroslaw Suchan, director of Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, Lodz. The panel will be moderated by Malgorzata Ludwisiak, CIMAM Board Member and Independent Art Critic and Curator, Ph. D. Warsaw.

This Webinar will serve as an introduction to the topics to be discussed during the CIMAM Annual Conference.

Although the pandemic seems to be the most pressing challenge today, it is but a vector for more global political and environmental changes. The conference will address the role of artists and museums in this 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 the conference, discussions will focus on the two interconnected current crises of xenophobia and climate change, and the sometimes hidden or unexplored connections between the two.

Day 1: Conflict, Crisis and the Politics of Growth

Day 2: Museums as spaces for acknowledging differences

Day 3: New Perspectives on Climate and the Commons

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

This webinar and the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference have been thought and organized by members of the Board of CIMAM and both hosting museums:

From the CIMAM Board:

  • Malgorzata Ludwisiak (Chair), Independent Art Critic, Curator, Ph.D, Warsaw.
  • Saskia Bos Independent Curator and Critic, Amsterdam.
  • Victoria Noorthoorn, Director, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.
  • Agustín Pérez-Rubio, Independent Curator, Madrid.
  • Eugene Tan, Director, National Gallery Singapore and The Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.

From the hosting museums in Lodz and Gdansk:

  • Daniel Muzyczuk, Head of Modern Art Department, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz.
  • Jaroslaw Suchan, Director, Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, Lodz.
  • Aneta Szylak, Curator, NOMUS New Art Museum / Branch of the National Museum in Gdansk, Poland, Gdansk.