A CA2M AFTER COVID-19
Museums were born of the need to preserve the material repositories of a cultural identity. They derived disciplinary authority from their ability to define a particular social group. A museum that assembles the constituent material legacy of a culture to reproduce it over time as something identical to itself is a conservative institution. Yet the legacy it houses can also be seen in another light, with another kind of potential: objects crystallise socio-historical relations of production, and when they are returned to their context, when they recover the experience of their meaning, they can become tools for devising new types of traditions which in turn give rise to new social forms. A contemporary art museum is defined by similar forces, but given its changing purpose, centred on an immediate present and necessarily open to the future, it is destined to be a social process in itself. A contemporary art museum is not one voice but a choir of voices. It is not a body but a choreographic ensemble.
At the CA2M we have always believed that, as an institution, we are a speculative fiction: we think about how we can be useful to artistic practices yet to come. So, what is art’s duty to future creation? If we want to consider the function of our institutions, it is essential to think about what art does to language, what art does to identity, and what art does to reality. And, most importantly, what it will be able to do to them.
When the virus’s contagion rate drops, it seems probable that a large segment of the population will still be more isolated than ever. As a public institution, we feel it is essential for us to become a place where people can shed the habits of confinement, find meaning as a community and engage in a fluid exchange of intangible assets: soft, light, living forms that will help to heal the invisible wounds of a shared trauma.
Here, participation has always been a full-body experience. Now the parameters of the human body mark a distance, a boundary of spatial separation. But as a place for reinventing a symbolic space of shared thought, do we not have the tools to bridge that gap? Our contemporary art museums do not become feminist or concerned with gender issues; they do not become interested in ethnic or racial diversity; they do not suddenly take an interest in certain social demands. These themes are at the heart of the artistic practices that define our institutional subject. Our institutions must define themselves as part of the material conditions of equality.
Striving to make sense of everything that has happened and is happening to us and to insert the problem in a larger circuit of coexistence beyond the human plane, one that includes other species and even things, is a fundamental undertaking. For instance, gardening and weaving are manual methods of building resilience: the human ability to flexibly adapt to extreme situations and overcome them. Resilience means developing immunisation as self-care; understanding how to protect oneself necessarily entails protecting one’s interactions with others, comprehending our vital interdependency. In other words, we must be able to put life at the centre of our practices.
The CA2M is a support structure for the local art scene and plays a fundamental role in connecting it with the international context. We believe that, in complex situations, we must embrace complexity as a programme; we are committed to becoming a space of positive, propositional initiatives, and we need to forge alliances that will make it comfortable again. New experiences are already showing us different paces, different times, and we must learn how to express them in new relational forms.
To read the rest of the document about our future programme, click here.