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.
Beatriz Escudero's Conference Report
The CIMAM Annual Conference has allowed us to reflect on some of the most critical challenges the world faces. For three days, we have been able to experience "the urgency of being together and touching" again, as Alex Baczynski-Jenkins made evident in an inspiring presentation of his work. We have also learned from Pelin Tan that a " little scale" approach can be positive and beneficial when communities and territories are involved.
Many presentations reminded us of the relationship between "the one and the many", as Dipesh Chakrabarty pointed out. Or the need to be even more aware of our interdependence, a crucial fact to achieve a social and ecological transformation of our production models. In that sense, and during the last day of presentations, Maristella Svampa devoted her speech to stress the need to regard the pandemic and crisis scenarios we are experiencing as an opportunity to imagine and build up a complete transformation of the relationship between society and nature, which would place interdependency, sustainability and above all care at the core of it.
The pandemic has made visible the link between social inequalities and wealth concentration and the connections between zoonosis, pandemics, and socio-ecological crisis. Svampa insists that we must not only change our energy system from fossil to a more ecological source. We must also change our extractivist system and our production, consumption, and waste disposal models. Moreover, if we fail to articulate environmental and social justice, we will accelerate the ecological collapse and the inequalities we face.
And yet, it was the word "care" that overwhelmingly appeared in most speeches. As professionals working in museums, we must ask ourselves how care is integrated into our programs and our rapport with the communities we are inserted in, particularly with the staff and the people around our institutions. Museums may not be a factor of change, says Joanna Sokolowska. But, as reminded by Svampa, museums, as art does, can expand horizons and political imagination towards change.