Jiaxing Chao

Chao, Jiaxing.jpg
Jiaxing Chao, Independent Curator and Consultant Curator, Start Museum (West Bund), Shanghai, China

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.

Jiaxing Chao's Conference Report

Thanks to the CIMAM 2019 Travel Grant program for allowing me to participate in the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? It is a rather difficult topic to reach consensus, because it is quite general and also involves the differences in definitions and development stages of art museums in different countries, which makes the context complicated and also interesting and challenging.

First of all, this meeting is an excellent extension of my social network. Whether experienced independent curators or directors at big art museums in the world, there is no gap or aphasia, or awkwardness in this temporary gathering. From "censorship" to "climate warming", the discussion of universal values would seem pale, however, since the conference was intensively organized, everyone was able to open their minds and enter the topic from their perspective, expressing the deep understanding of his/her professional area. This is indeed the way to achieve consensus and extend ongoing dialogues.

In addition to this, the topic distribution in the three-day conference is very organic, with a wide range of perspectives and caring for the local. From the in-depth curatorial case study on day 1, Challenging the Narrative: Indigenous Perspectives research by Ngahiraka Mason, Independent Indigenous Curator & Visual Historian at Hira, Honolulu, Hawaii, to the keynote speech on day 3, Beyond the Walls by Sally Tallant, Director of The Queens Museum, New York, Outside in : Inside Out, passionate and encouraging community network vitality. Among these topics, the indigenous issue is an issue that is unfamiliar and inaccessible to the Chinese society I cultivate. Because in our country, the concepts of nationality and indigenous even climate issues people are first overshadowed with politics. Only when this level of politics is revealed we can enter a track of fair discussion. What impressed me was that in the final General Assembly, the speech of the CIMAM committee, Calin Dan, Director, National Museum of Contemporary Art - MNAC Bucharest, opened up my mind. The artists would be very lonely without censorship. Just as if not for the extreme censorship in the Italian film industry, perhaps there would be no such masterpiece as Cinema Paradiso. That is the freedom within restrictions. All these have given me the reference and ideas for local curation from an international perspective and given me great confidence.

Actually, I have to say that another unexpected feeling for the whole event is that the perfect operation of organizational details of the CIMAM is because of its values and humanistic concern. Considering the psychology of people from various contexts, I would like to thank the people who worked hard during the whole event, which I did not expect. All these details contribute to the significance of the existence of the entire organization. Respect, communication, expansion, self-reflection and care, these may also be the basis of the existence of any international organization. This makes me look forward to the next year's conference in Warsaw, and I feel lucky and free to a part of it.