Soukaina Aboulaoula

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Soukaina Aboulaoula, Curator and Co-founder, Untitled duo, Marrakech, Morocco

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.

Soukaina Aboulaoula's Conference Report

First of all, I would like to express my immense gratitude to the Getty Foundation and the CIMAM board members for making it possible for me to attend the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? in Sydney. As a young curator, it is very important for my professional and personal development to meet and engage with fellow young curators and museum professionals from different contexts and regions. I am very thankful for such an opportunity.

The three days of the conference were stimulating and quite diversified in terms of content and speakers. The keynotes, case studies, and panels discussed the future of collections, taking the museum outside its walls, and challenging the narratives in the process of decolonizing museums. I personally engaged more with day 3 keynote by Sally Tallant, Outside In: Inside Out about developing open, inclusive and empathic institutions. Sally Tallant shared her own experience working with Liverpool biennial and the Queens Museum, and how she uses the public space in her projects as a playground to develop educational and research projects. Her curatorial practice was an ideal representation of how to work with and within different contexts, and to consider gaps as tools for building connections between people, artists, and places.

This was followed by Anne Loxley and Tony Albert's case study Remembering and healing: The Blacktown Native Institution... Anne Loxley and Tony Albert's speech was very insightful; it has allowed us to have a glimpse of Native institutions and their engagements with the community in rewriting and telling history.

Also, the organized site visits represented a great occasion to get some sense of the artistic and cultural scene of Sydney, especially for first-time visitors, and those who could only be there on the conference days.

Is context everything? Yes, indeed context is all.

The common thread in all the discussions was the need to elevate the museum from a safe space to a brave space. To develop a museum model ready to foster, acknowledge and engage with different contexts and the diverse conversations they bring.

I can only finish by expressing my wish for CIMAM to continue serving as a valuable platform of discussions. To continue its encouragement and support to the new and emerging wave of Art professionals, and mostly to expand more in the upcoming editions and include the African continent more in the conversation.