A total of 24 modern and contemporary art museum professionals residing in 19 different cities have been awarded support to attend the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? that will be held in Sydney, Australia 15–17 November 2019 hosted jointly by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
Launched in 2005, CIMAM’s Travel Grant Program is designed to foster cooperation and cultural exchange between contemporary art curators and museums directors in emerging and developing economies and their counterparts in other regions of the world.
Siham Belkhadir's Conference Report
Working as an independent writer and curator implies dealing with and taming an acute sense of solitude. Though this loneliness is necessary to think, to write and to step back from the urgency and hotness of daily life information, routine and habits, it is always fruitful to break it by facing other colleagues and institutions, enriching oneself with new perspectives, goals, practices, attitudes… CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? held in Australia this year shifted the focus on the context as a unit of analysis and explored the different problematics this in-construction definition withholds.
The Keynote session I enjoyed the most was the case study on The Future of Collections about the performing art by Hannah Mathews, Senior Curator, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, Australia. Her preciseness and hands-on approach is for me a winning formula when dealing with a field of research as thorny as the context. From the various museum professionals and speakers who graced the stage, I especially recollect their interest and care about the pressing climate change issues, which prompt me to entangle it with my curatorial approach, instead of delineating my practice from the environment and enclosing it in a clear-cut definition.
More generally, as an independent curator, I was very pleased and happy with the great capacities of CIMAM on building a strong and generous network of solidarity. As an ‘outsider’ from the institution, I learned a great deal about the necessities, agendas, and goals of the museum, which in return made me feel more empathetic towards these structures that unfortunately appear oftentimes as our best, intimate enemies. I read this conference, in that sense, as a symbolic repair or reconciliation…
My expectations, as a newcomer and non-western member of this great organization, are linked to the challenges brought by this year’s election of a new board’s president. For the first time, the position is held by a person who neither identifies with the Western scene nor belongs to a hegemonic culture - Mami Kataoka.
The challenge is to now follow in and concretely work on the issues raised by the result of the election. I particularly noted the promise of developing interest and collaboration opportunities with the African continent, where I come from and which is at the center of my expertise and field of research. I was moved by this election and anticipate it to be a momentum for cultural exchange and knowledge production. Last, as a new member of CIMAM’s network and grantee, I wish for an upcoming edition of the Annual Conference to be held in Africa, focusing on it as a site of complex historical and visual development. I would be delighted and honored to partake, along with CIMAM’s cohort, in making this project a reality.