Marta Mestre

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Marta Mestre, Independent Curator, São Paulo, Brazil

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.

Marta Mestre's Conference Report

I would like to thanks the Getty Foundation for the generous grant allowing me to participate in the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? in Sydney, enabling most challenging cultural encounters with inspiring speakers, colleagues, and local museums.

“Is context everything?” was the question that guided the Sydney debates, a question linked to the Australian colonial history and cultural context. The debate moved beyond the mere recognition of traditional cultures and crossed themes such as climate change, the right to land, water, participation, museum policies, social awareness, etc.… Confined for centuries to the anthropological eye, aboriginal cultures are now an important part of the art historical narratives, challenging the way we look to them. For that reason, I was particularly struck by the display of art from aboriginal cultures in the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, which contributed to my further understanding of the art histories from the region as well as creating regional visibilities and transregional dialogues.

I was particularly interested in the discussion held on day 1, entitled Challenging the Narrative: Indigenous Perspectives – How and to what effect are museums in the 21st century recognizing and incorporating the cultural leadership of First Peoples? –Wesley Enoch’s speech on the Australian indigenous perspectives highlighted the complexity of the category “Australian art”.

One final word, it was great to meet grantees from the different regions and with varied ranges of curatorial practice (institution-based, freelance, academics, etc.…). Besides networking, one of the greatest elements of the CIMAM Conference is the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences, to learn “in situ” with museum practices, to share knowledge, etc.