Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar. Photo: Kiem-Lian The.
We are happy to share the Doha 2014 Annual Conference report with information about the delegates, the budget, the travel grantees’ reports, the press clipping and the result of the evaluation survey. You can also watch the conference sessions at CIMAM TV.
→ CIMAM 2014 Conference Report
→ CIMAM TV
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As we begin a new year, we want to extend our warmest wishes for an exciting and successful 2015 to all our Members and the Museum community. It is our priority now to publish the outcome of our 2014 Annual Conference, which was held from the 9th to the 11th of November in Doha, Qatar.
The 2014 CIMAM Annual Conference has been an inspiring experience, full of discoveries, new perspectives and insights for many of us. This was the first of a series of debates designed to explore the evolving relation between public interest and private resources in the field of museums of modern and contemporary art. What we call “evolving relations” has been in the making for many years but only now does the museum community feel that it is necessary to address these many challenges of deep significance. To embrace this situation while devising new opportunities to fulfill the mission of our institutions is the task of the CIMAM Conferences during the three-year exercise of the current Board and Presidency of our organization.
The contents of the 2015 and 2016 Conferences, to be held respectively in Tokyo and Barcelona, will be established as a continuity of the debates initiated in Doha.
We were honoured to have the 2014 Conference officially opened by H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, the organization that manages the institutional platform for art and culture in Qatar. Qatar Museums was a crucial support to the Conference, which was brilliantly hosted by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Hereby, our thanks to Abdellah Karroum, Board Member of CIMAM and Director of Mathaf, with our gratitude to the staff and crew of Mathaf for their precision and kindness. We also need to thank the University College of London Doha, the Qatar National Convention Center and the Qatar Foundation for their hospitality in Doha.
This was the first time that the CIMAM Conference was held in the Gulf Region. We were fortunate to assemble a brilliant group of speakers that addressed a rich range of topics pertaining to both a theoretical sphere of concern and to very practical, institutional cases. The voice(s) of artists, researchers, directors and curators, collectors and patrons contributed to one of the most lively and stimulating encounters in CIMAM’s recent history. It was our intention to find a new balance between the theoretical approaches of the keynote speeches with the presentation of the “perspective” interventions (formerly “case studies”) and to address issues of general, global interest with presentations linked to the local or regional context. It was relevant to see how many cultural initiatives and projects within the GCC States have diversified beyond the large institutional impulse of the different Government structures.
A reduced group of fifty delegates embarked after the three-day Doha conference on a post-conference tour to Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to experience the very different and complementary ways in which each of the Emirates brings contemporary art into its cultural scene. Sharjah has based its model in a bottom-up strategy engaging the Sharjah Art Foundation in a non-spectacular but solid anchorage of art in its social and creative tissue. The exhibition facilities at the Heritage Area, in the centre of the city speak of a beautiful harmony between locality, tradition, modern culture and contemporary debate. Sharjah is known for its dynamic and now pioneer Biennial (now on its 12th edition) while under the direction of Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, a vibrant exhibition program develops all year long with educational programs, commissions, productions and publications. Our group could further enjoy other cultural institutions in Sharjah that are proof of the Emirate’s involvement with nature, sustainability and a wider concept of material, natural and immaterial heritage.
The visit to Dubai was centered on its strength within the art market: galleries, artists’ studios and the Dubai Art Fair are intent on positioning Dubai’s identity in the global field. The complementary role of Abu Dhabi is to be found essentially in the construction of major institutions based on franchises of well-known institutions such is the Louvre or the Guggenheim Museum. We visited the exhibition Seeing through light
with new acquisitions of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and could hear explanations of the development plans of the Saadiyat Island where we were hosted by the Sheika Salama Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.
We cannot ignore that the institutional dynamism and accelerated development of the cultural infrastructure in cities like Doha and Abu Dhabi does not go without sharp criticism of the conditions of workers in the construction sector. We encourage the contributions made to the debate around the issues of gender and freedom of speech, both of which are essential implications for contemporary cultural maturity. It is our hope that the values that we believe art brings into the public sphere will eventually contribute to re-enforce the amazing effort that is already in motion within the GCC countries.
Barcelona, January 2015
Bartomeu Marí, President of CIMAM