2020.12.05 -2020.12.06


Cultural Alliances: The Imperatives And Challenges Of Collaboration took place at He Art Museum (HEM) from December 5-6 and featured a one-day conference and one day of workshops for Museum 2050 partnering institutions. The third edition of Museum 2050’s annual symposium continued important conversations about the future of China’s cultural landscape and attracted 72,680 international livestream viewers as well as an in person audience of 160 in Shunde over the course of the weekend. 

Focusing on the question of the concept of collaboration, both in its proliferation in recent partnerships amongst museums, particularly in China, and as a centerpiece of creative production, this year’s keynote presentations on December 5 by Daniel Arsham, a New York based artist, and Nikita Yingqian Cai, Chief Curator at Guangdong Times Museum, addressed different ways of approaching partnerships and fundamental questions of how museums will respond to post-pandemic realities respectively. 

Mr. Arsham concluded that “collaboration can always be challenging, but for me it's about the people I’m working with, whether we share a similar work ethos. There are many more invitations to collaborate than I have taken up, but in some ways, the things that I’ve said no to…are as important to the world that I’m building as the things I did choose.”

Papers were presented both virtually and onsite by speakers of a broad range of backgrounds and this year’s sessions explored a wide range of future-facing issues. Brendan Ciecko, the founder and CEO of Cuseum, presented his insights into the emergent relationships between museums and brands, including tech companies and startups.

Adjunct Professor at Williams College, and Director Emeritus at Clark Art Institute, Michael Conforti, proposed the establishment of long-term institution to institution international partnerships that could result in institutional enhancement of all contributing partners through the exchange of people, objects and knowledge.

China Residencies ’s co-founder & director Kira Simon-Kennedy and cultural researcher Xiaoyao Xu presented an exploration of the collaborations between multinational individuals and institutions, while Yang Wang and Zhenzhen Qi from ZZYW, an art and research collective, pressed for the importance of computational simulation as collaborative making in the interdisciplinary space, and its implication on architecting emergence.

This symposium also featured Sissi Tang, a curator, art consultant and art writer who addressed the important role of public policy in developing and particularly shifting collaborations in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, while researcher Sophie Xiaofei Wang examined the phenomena of cross-border and cross-field partnerships within the art industry. 

Vicky Zeng Ying, a researcher from Central China Normal University National Cultural Industry Research Center, provided insights on the history of the art industry in Wuhan, while Sue Mengchen Xu, a Beijing based art educator, advisor and writer, considered the social responsibilities of art and the value of cross-community dialogues.

Interdisciplinary artist Anita Chen presented on contemporary art interventions located in the ocean, while Executive Director of Chronus Art Center Bi Xin provided insights on the pairings between institutions and laboratories, technology companies and think tanks. 

London-based writer Sarah Forman presented her insights into the oft-neglected complications of interpersonal interactions, advocating for an active communication model through a brief survey of differing exhibition frameworks, while curator Sophie J. Williamson explored the concealed collaborations within the silent philanthropic turning of all matter: past, present and possible.

The day’s session closed with Lindsay Taylor from the University of Salford and Sarah Fisher, Director of Open Eye Gallery, who together shared their secret to successful collaborations, with a focus on the Peer to Peer model of distributed leadership they jointly developed and delivered in Liverpool and Shanghai in 2019, and a presentation by Emmanuelle Khoo Fong Yi, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, who examined how the production of hybrid museums, through a host of transnational actors, contribute to the process of branding of place. 

In addition to presentations, panel discussions responded to questions about the ways in which Covid-19 is impacting museums worldwide, how technology is dramatically altering public engagement and how small businesses and artists are collaborating to drive creativity and innovation. 

On December 6, Museum 2050 and Para Site in Hong Kong hosted a series of on-site and virtual workshops to allow for networking and provide professional training in China’s rapidly transforming cultural landscape. 

Ole Bouman, Founding Director of Design Society, and Huang Wenlong, Assistant Curator at Beijing Inside Out Museum led a workshop on the techniques and challenges of envisioning a creative enterprise and the Inside Out Museum’s publishing practice respectively, while Dane Currey, the Principal at UAP, and Chu Menger, Senior Curator at UAP,  gave attendees a unique perspective on developing commissioned public artworks both in China and abroad. 

Museum 2050 is grateful to He Art Museum for serving as this year’s hosting institution and also thankful for the support of Para Site and Jing Culture and Commerce that made the symposium’s activities and success possible.

The forthcoming proceedings featuring all the papers presented during the conference as well as contributions from the workshops by Design Society, Beijing Inside Out Museum and UAP, will be launched in spring of 2021. The publication Cultural Alliances: The Imperatives And Challenges Of Collaboration will be Museum 2050’s second such undertaking and demonstrates the platform’s ongoing commitment to creating a discourse around institutional development in China. 
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