Migration symposium 24 january

Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Rythme couleur, 1952. Photo: Helene Toresdotter/Malmö Konstmuseum.

With Beatrice von Bismarck, Manuel Borja-Villel, Charles Esche, Tone Hansen, Temi Odumosu and Cecilia Widenheim.

In conjunction with the exhibition Migration: Traces in an Art Collection at Malmö Konstmuseum, the museum will host a symposium on Friday 24 January 2020. The aim of the symposium is to propose and discuss new and innovative ways of presenting and otherwise mediating public art collections. Beatrice von Bismarck, Manuel Borja-Villel, Charles Esche, Tone Hansen, Temi Odumosu and Cecilia Widenheim have been invited to share case studies and thoughts on the topic.

Migration: Traces in an Art Collection is based on a selection of artworks from the collection of Malmö Konstmuseum. By applying migration as a lens, the exhibition frames the collection from one particular point of view; yet, at the same time, the artworks present a diversity of approaches to the experiences of migration and exile. Ranging from the 1880s to the present day, they convey a multitude of complex stories, as does the collection overall. Over the years, the artworks themselves have been dealt with in a variety of ways: some of the works have become beloved “classics,” whereas others have not been exhibited since they first entered the collection. 

The symposium centres questions of curatorial method and modes of presentation: How have curators and art historians engaged collections to discuss contemporary societal issues? How can temporary exhibitions reinvent permanent ones, and vice versa? What are the latent possibilities in and around art collections? While exhibition and mediation practices in public art museums will be considered, it is case studies, exhibition theory and art history that form the core of the symposium.

Symposium curated by Maria Lind and produced by Malmö Konstmuseum

Exhibition curated by Maria Lind and Cecilia Widenheim

Preliminary schedule (with reservation for changes)

Final schedule will be sent out to all registered participants Monday 20 January 2020

08.45-09.15 Registration and coffee
09.15-10.00 Presentation by Cecilia Widenheim 
10.15-11.00 Presentation by Charles Esche
11.15-12.00 Presentation by Beatrice von Bismarck
12.00-13.00 Lunch
13.05-13.50 Presentation by Temi Odumosu
14.00-14.45 Presentation by Tone Hansen
14.45-15.00 Coffee break
15.05-15.50 Presentation by Manuel Borja-Villel
16.00-16.45 Panel discussion
The presentations and panel is moderated by Maria Lind
17.00 Guided tour of the exhibition Migration: Traces in an Art Collection 

Location: Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmöhusvägen 6

Presentation abstracts

If you enter a museum’s storage and ask a question, the collection will answer you.
The hybrid museum and art in service of a municipality.

Cecilia Widenheim Director, Tensta Konsthall

The museum of art in Malmö is situated within a unique context that since the 1930s brings together natural history, military history, aquariums and fine arts under one roof, for good or for bad. In the late 90s the art department was turned into a separate institution: Malmö Konstmuseum. Despite many efforts to find a new separate location for its extensive collections of around 40.000 objects, the art department still remains within the hybrid museum.

Cecilia Widenheim will give a background to the events of 1945 when the museum was closed for ordinary visitors and turned into a refugee shelter hosting individuals coming from the German concentration camps to Malmö after the end of WWII. She will also give some examples of projects contextualising the collection in different formats as research, mediation, exhibitions and other modes of presentation realised during her time as museum director 2012-2018.

Collecting, using, demodernising in a modern art museum

Charles Esche Director of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

The talk will focus on the uses to which the Van Abbemuseum has put the collection over the past decade. Bringing examples together from different places - Eindhoven, Ramallah, Quizhuang - it will address the problems and potentials of the modern art collection. It starts by looking at the Dutch historical and colonial perspective and what that legacy means for the museum’s collection. From there, the display of modernist artworks in different contexts will be analysed and ways to relate it to recent art and social changes will be discussed. Other areas covered include ways to share the collection, the protocols around adding new works to an existing body of art and how we can create more plural and empathic narratives about art in the world.

Guesting Relations

Beatrice von Bismarck Professor of art history at the Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst) Leipzig

Museum collections not only follow the archival logic of de-contextualizing the items it assembles but also the logic of hospitality: They offer space, time and other resources while simultaneously subjecting the collected objects to their rules and conditions. In this context they allow, but also regulate the encounters among the human and non-human participants of the museum situation including their respective biographies and social histories. The talk will address the dynamics that structure these encounters with a focus on their political implications and investigate the formative potentials of artistic and curatorial practices dealing with collections from the perspective of "guesting".

On Facing Silences
Cultural intervening during Denmark’s 2017 commemorations

Temi Odumosu
Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, Malmö University

This presentation provides posthumous reflections on a collaborative project I initiated in Copenhagen, as part of the commemorative activities surrounding “Transfer Day” during 2017. That year Denmark commemorated 100 years from the sale and transfer of its former Caribbean sugar colonies (St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John) to the United States for 25 million dollars in gold. What Lies Unspoken: Sounding the colonial archivewas a sound intervention installed in exhibitions at the SMK and Royal Library of Denmark. The aim of the project was to address the uncomfortable silences surrounding institutional and societal engagements with colonialism. Byenabling polyphonic interpretations of artworks, the recordings were a means to express (and question) the affects/effects of images, which usually go unaddressed. However, rather than focus on the project’s outcomes (the installations), this presentation will reconsider the intervening process; to demonstrate what is at stake, what emerges, what shifts, and what resists when external actors are called in to address institutional blind spots.

Looters, smugglers, and collectors: Rethinking models of provenance research and how to mediate it through the format of the exhibition

Tone Hansen
Director, Heine Onstad Kunstsenter

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter decided to confront these issues when in 2012 we were faced with a claim that a Henri Matisse (1869– 1954) painting in our collection, known as Profi l bleu devant la chemin é e (Woman in Profile in Front of the Fireplace), 1937, was a work looted by the Nazis. From the start, we saw the project as an opportunity for new possibilities in academic research and curatorial practice. The project took the form of a search for a curatorial as well as artistic approach, where artists were invited to research the collection in parallel to our own provenance research. The question asked was: How can we broaden the historical concept of provenance by opening up the process to contemporary artists’ own experimental take on the materials researched?

Towards a situated museum

Manuel Borja-Villel
Director, Museo Reina Sofía

We often imagine an artistic construct in which the other speaks with us, when that is not really the case. It is not enough to represent the other; we must seek out forms of mediation that are simultaneously examples and concrete practices of new forms of solidarity and relation. This implies replacing the linear, one-way, and exclusive narration with one that is plural and rhizomatic, where differences are not only annulled but interlaced. It also implies transgressing established genres and canons, as well as extending the artistic experience beyond contemplation and including projects that are not limited to the context of the art world or reduced to established institutional settings. If the main objective of cultural and even artistic institutions is to seek beyond, seeking out innovation and what emerges anywhere in order to tame it and transform it into merchandise, then the new institutional sphere should have an open and explicitly political dimension. It should be open to this multiplicity, simultaneously protecting its interests and favoring ethical, political, and creative surpluses that are antagonistic in a shared space.

We do not advocate for a collection which is just a hodgepodge of multiculturalism, but one characterized by multiple forms of relation that question our mental structures and established hierarchies. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is as its title claims a “national” museum and it necessarily refers to the notion of identity. This for us is always relational. It is neither unique nor atavistic, but instead has multiple roots. This permits, even invites, an openness to others and to the presence of other cultures and ways of doing things in our own praxis without fear of a hypothetical loss of identity. Of course, the poetics of the relation cannot be understood without a notion of place. A dependence on the concept of center and periphery no longer makes sense, and the periphery's claim to the center no longer holds. Relations no longer run from the particular to the general, or vice versa, but instead from the local to the world in its totality, which is not a universal, homogeneous reality but instead a plural one. In this context, art simultaneously seeks the absolute and its opposite--that is, the written and the oral.

This implies breaking with the notion of the museum as owner. Rather, the institution should be considered a custodian of goods that belong to all. Of course, making this happen involves making them available to the community of users. But it goes further than that, because there is also a sharing of opinions, commentaries, and judgments, as well as of the norms underlying such opinions. That is how a choral history is constructed, one in which we can offer our version of the history and others can also explain their perception of themselves and of us. It is important that these histories multiply and circulate as much as possible. If our society's economic system is based on scarcity, allowing artworks to attain stratospheric values, then the universal archive is based on excess, an ordering that escapes accounting criteria. Here, the richest are those who receive the stories--but those who give or narrate them are none the poorer.

For more information, and to register, contact: 

Sofia Landström, curator (education & program) sofia.landstrom@malmo.se 

RSVP: Please register before 17 January 2020 (Limited amout of seats) 

Senast ändrad: 2020-01-10 11:37