Valentinas Klimašauskas

Valentinas Klimašauskas.jpg
CIMAM 2021 grantee Valentinas Klimašauskas, Curator, writer, Vilnius, Lithuania.

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.

Valentinas Klimašauskas' Conference Report

The times are alarming as I write this report as they were when the conference took place and as they will be when you are going to read this text. And the title of the conference – “Under Pressure. Museums in Times of Xenophobia and Climate Emergency” – perfectly touches upon this urgency.

As someone coming from Central and Eastern Europe, from Lithuania, to be exact, I felt personally obliged to attend the conference and its various programs (workshops and tours) so I could finally understand the situation in the museum sector of Poland where the radical right is taking a stronger position than ever before. The exhibition we saw at Zamok Ujazdowsky Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw titled “Political Art” and showing pro-nazi, antisemitic, antimuslim, and other disturbing work, reminded us how culture and contemporary art could be used as a weapon of propaganda and ongoing cultural war.

In this context, meeting local and international museum workers who come from various problematic regions of the world and discussing the issues of xenophobia, propaganda, and ecology helped to understand how we are all connected and what threats surround us and our colleagues. Ecology discussions helped me to rethink the projects I work on and also how to reorganise the future institutions so we all reduce the carbon footprint and become more sustainable than ever.

The multiple meetings and discussions we had were more than relevant in shaping my future curatorial practice in regional museums and beyond. Think of the recent Afghanistan situation, the so-called Belarussian migrant crisis at the Belarussian, Lithuanian and Polish borders, the state of democracy in Belarus, Russia, Poland, or Hungary but also how society is polarized regarding issues of gender, nationalism, or even vaccination. Therefore, the take on the region engages with its composite constitution, highlighting transnational connections but also having global issues that do not stop at ecology and xenophobia.

The other reason to attend the conference also is connected to the curatorial research - professionally I only visited Warsaw in 2015 while the whole Polish artistic scene is very interesting, dynamically changing, and motivating to work together.

And lastly, the conference helped me to meet people I admire and also to get connected with new colleagues and partners.