A photograph looking down toward an auditorium stage on which seven people are seated. One person on the stage holds a microphone and addresses the room.

Musées partagés octobre 2022. Photo Anne Volery © Palais de la Porte Dorée

Stories & News / Partner Stories / Resources

Exchange and Dialogue: Supporting Practice Change in the Field

July 27, 2023

The Terra Foundation for American Art supports projects that reframe and expand notions of American art within global contexts, exploring topics important to the field at large. The foundation is partnering with organizations committed to engaging multiple perspectives for convenings that address relevant issues in the field. Recent supported convenings that facilitated exchange and dialogue to support systemic changes in museum practice include Sharing Museums (Paris, France), Tools for Demodernizing (Rotterdam, Netherlands), and IMU UR2: Art, Aesthetics, and Asian America (Palo Alto, California).

Sharing Museums, a conference held at Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris, on October 20–22, 2022, brought together museum directors, artists, thought leaders, and journalists, to discuss diversity, migrations and diaspora, colonial history, and restitutions impacting museums and cultural organizations. This international convening invited participants to offer their insights into site-specific and shared experiences and to explore different methods and practices intended to inform the field, prompting cultural institutions to engage with critical approaches and rethink their place and role in society.

“With Sharing Museums, we have collected and combined the views and practices of museums worldwide as they consider their societal role, focusing on three issues that are key to coexistence and remembrance: social cohesion, diversity, and relations between Western countries and former colonies. This international format allowed actors from the field of culture, students, academia, and, more generally, members of the public interested in heritage issues to share and contrast viewpoints and to imbue the mutual enrichment of the institutions’ practices with new ideas,” said Constance Rivière, CEO, Palais de la Porte Dorée – Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration – Aquarium tropical, and Sébastien Gökalp, Director, Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration.

Another initiative, Tools for Demodernizing, originated at the Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam on June 21–23, 2023. At the root of this project is the understanding that while Kunstinstituut Melly exists in a multi-ethnic metropole, its conceptual framework and space, like those of many other contemporary art institutions, are based on modernist principles, which can be seen as reproducing Eurocentric modernist beliefs such as the primacy of originality and autonomy.

Tools for Demodernizing brought together an international cohort of cultural partners—Artspace (Australia), the Initiating Council for the Museum of Contemporary Art (ICMoCA) (Kossovo), Javett-UP (South Africa), and Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín (MAMM) (Colombia), CUNY Graduate Center (United States), and Kunstinstituut Melly (The Netherlands)—for a training program focused on making transformative and sustainable change in arts organizations. The aim was to reflect upon and question the impact and exclusions of European-American modernism in museums and gallery spaces. The project was designed to address change at a structural level and to ensure the presence and welcoming of different forms of knowledge, spatial displays, and cultural platforms manifested in contemporary society. It is an experimental initiative, giving shape to knowledge sharing that relies on the co-creation, testing, and adaptation of ideas, as well as on the evolution of a community of thought and action that will inspire its constituencies and the field at large. Videos, reports, and reflections will be made available in the near future.

IMU UR2: Art, Aesthetics, and Asian America was a two-day convening at Stanford University on October 28–29, 2022, where scholars reimagined the histories and futures of artists of Asian descent. IMU UR2 (read “I am you, you are two/too/to”), coined by artist Martin Wong, encapsulates the convening’s aim of considering the countless ways Asian Americans and their work are interconnected and distinctive.

The convening encouraged dialogue, experimentation, and deep engagement with images. Each speaker centered their presentation around one image that spoke to their panel’s particular theme. Topics included Global Intimacies; Race & Aesthetics; Art & Activisms; History & Memory; Gender & Sexuality; and Institutional Interventions.

“IMU UR2: Art, Aesthetics, and Asian America brought together 40 Asian diaspora artists, makers, curators, and scholars to rethink and reimagine the pasts and futures of Asian American art. Hundreds of people gathered in person and virtually for this event, which fostered intergenerational conversations about activism, aesthetics, solidarity, and categorization, as well as the affordances and limitations of institutionalization,” said Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor, Art & Art History, Co-Director, Asian American Art Initiative, Cantor Arts Center.

These institutions are taking part in larger conversations on decolonization, representation, and dissonant heritage in the U.S. and around the world, working toward an inclusive, multivocal field. The foundation is committed to a new way of thinking about convenings that can effect change. We encourage you to contact us with ideas for rethinking methods, models, and systems in the field of American Art, as well as apply for support through our convening program.

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