Marie Helene Pereira

PEREIRA; Marie Helene.jpg
CIMAM 2021 grantee Marie Helene Pereira, Director of Programs, RAW Material Company, Dakar, Senegal.

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.

This grant was generously funded by Mercedes Vilardell.

Marie Helene Pereira's Conference Report

Working under pressure is a day-to-day reality for a “small-scale” art institution like RAW Material Company, operating from Senegal on the African continent. We are in a constant, never-ending survival mode. Thus, we perpetuate the quest for sustainability for ourselves, our institutions, and our ecosystems.

Having heard from CIMAM for years and have followed from afar how it constitutes a worldwide community of practitioners who take dedicated time for sharing present issues and tools to support artistic practices and institutions globally, I felt the need to be part of this journey of reflections and experience sharing around the theme proposed as “Under Pressure: Museums in Times of Xenophobia and Climate Emergency”.

It’s been interesting to see how many have developed strategies of resistance to be able to face periods of crisis in different contexts. The current situation in Poland, paired with the dedication of its art practitioners and activists (Laznia art center, Joanna Sokolowska, to name a few…) reinforced my belief in the forces of art and its related practices.

Solidarnosc, Laboratoire Agit’art. Issa Samb’s courtyard, 17 Rue Jules Ferry Dakar, Senegal

Visiting the memorial of Solidarnosc was a highlight after seeing how artists from Senegal, especially the Laboratoire Agit’art with its central figure Issa Samb a.k.a Joe Ouakam, portrayed their solidarity to the movement in different manners. I’m sharing this one attached to give an example.

The conference was a breathing moment from which one would be more equipped to continue dealing with the ongoing pressure that we feel as art institutions and practitioners in our daily routines and mission.

Day 3 was particularly touching as it allows practitioners who convene the effect to take part in the conference and create an emotional communion between us all who shared the room at that particular moment.

Under Pressure, it’s essential for us to feel and move together to heal mental and emotional pressure. When artist Otobong Nkanga read her poem took us in real harmony in the now.

I left the conference keeping this sentence of Binna Choi in mind: How can we do what we do in a different way that encompasses as many realities as possible? Or maybe how can we do it differently to integrate the commons better?

I want to express my gratitude to Mercedes Villardel and the whole CIMAM team for making my participation in the conference possible and extending a call for more speakers from the African continent in future editions.