“How Global Can Museums Be?”
CIMAM 2015 Annual Conference Tokyo November 2015
Within this question lie very relevant issues and challenges for museums of modern and contemporary art as institutions dedicated to public service: locality, nationality, internationality, exhaustive universalism, decolonization, global democracy, and economic dependence, among others. The question does not only refer to the ambition of encompassing the entire world with all its differences; it interrogates if and how one single institutional model can be valid for the world’s diversity of contexts. Is the Museum as we know it the most appropriate institution to transmit the concept of freedom of expression?
Is the museum the entity most capable of rewriting and modifying Art History? What alternative models have been tested to be effective and useful agencies in different communities? Is there a fixed protocol for the museum world that can be true and applied in global terms? Differences in economies, (modern) development, industrialization, education, traditions, cultural and/or religious contexts create a very diverse global landscape for the making, presentation and reception of art. Beyond stylistic or material specificities, symbolic and factual/historical issues will necessarily determine how the messages produced by artists are received through time, space, and generations. Censorship, freedom of expression, institutional fragility, and responsibility are conditions and values constantly being rearticulated and questioned in the different contexts that compose our globe.
How can museums negotiate a radical, innovative position within cultural tolerance/sensitivity, within the dominating conventions of service to the public, or within the dichotomy of public interests/private resources? Evolving from previous Conferences, these are some of the questions we would like to address during the 2015 CIMAM Conference in Tokyo. The Conference will break down these major questions into thematic areas of discussion around which the three daily sessions will rotate.
Is the museum still a place for debate? Is freedom of expression up for debate within museums? Is it possible for museums to establish a universal deontological code, with a common set of values, rules or norms that are acceptable for all of us to envision an actual global exchange?
From the CIMAM booklet, available to download here.
TABOO, 2012 Installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
CIMAM is the ICOM International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, is an international forum of professional character for the discussion of theoretical, ethical and practical issues concerning the collection and exhibition of modern and contemporary art.