Nadejda Cervinscaia

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.

Nadejda Cervinscaia's Conference Report

CIMAM is about the discovery of people and their professional habitats

It's not a secret that any young expert will benefit from professional development outside the work from diverse perspectives: be it conferences and events, reading, and, definitely, networking. However, different challenges may appear to access certain resources, and it usually takes time to reach the right place. After curating several exhibitions of Zaharia Cusnir archive since 2016, reaching out to institutions for more projects, I have now been facing a slowed-down phase in our activities. This is why I was particularly motivated to apply to CIMAM and get there. For me, CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference has indeed tele-ported me right into the middle of a very professional, yearly summit of a tight network of museum professionals, experienced and young curators very eager to learn, share and in-clude you into the benefits and secrets of this special group of people and knowledge.

I want to present my highlights. First, CIMAM has been a 'sparkling water' space: there are so many brilliant professionals with their shaped views on the meaning of art in educating society, presenting different perspectives, and engaging artists worldwide. The program was jam-packed, but that's the perk, I would say. The participants would get inspired by speech-es and presentations and exchange passionately with different people during the breaks. I believe that initiating or joining different discussions during coffee breaks is the hidden par-allel conference, unplanned, unstructured, and so much needed. Never forget your business cards, and have a handy brochure/book to present right away!

The second highlight has been the exhibitions which we visited. Among all the magnificent ones, I would like to highlight the curatorship of Aneta Szylak and her devoted explanation of the shows, which she delivered to all the participants. I would also like to emphasize the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz. The topics, artists, and exhibitions are top-notch. For example, I discovered the solo-exhibition of Agnieszka Kurant "Errorism" curated by Jakub Gawkowski in Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz. Agnieszka is a modern artist who approaches socio-political is-sues through the artistic prism and, to me, ordinary objects that bridge the message to the public. Particularly, I was impressed by the juxtaposition of 'entirely unaware worker socie-ty of millions of termites specimen' building up hills from the artist's materials: colored sand, crystals, and gold. In my understanding, the three displayed hills in violet-green and red represent the joint social forces of contribution to something much bigger than ourselves, that it is difficult to grasp the tower we have just built. Notably, the curator Jakub Gawkow-ski has also kindly walked the CIMAM participants through his habitat, his show. It is a higher level of perceiving the show when the curator himself/herself delivers the message. As an amateur curator, I could learn a few techniques that will be definitive assets in my future exhibitions.

To sum up, CIMAM has been the environment where I discovered a tight, friendly, and mu-tually-supportive network of high-class museum professionals and independent curators, happy to share resources, establish potential collaborations, and are very approachable. You may drink a coffee next to some modern art museum director without knowing it, so I high-ly advise all young curators to jump into conversations, present your ideas, get connected, and flourish this unique fruitful circle of art professionals. I am highly thankful to CIMAM for the grant. I am happy to say that CIMAM is also very actionable: just by sharing about our Zaharia Cusnir archive, I got to know two other grants which may support our project. Additionally, I have connected to around six institutions whose workers I met, and now we are discussing our further collaborations. Lastly, CIMAM doesn't end on the last conference day. I am now granted access to unique online materials and partner institutions all around the Globe. It boosts my professional development and the development of our Zaharia Cusnir photo archive.