The Sanhedrin conference wishes to question the connection between the museum and the nation state, through the examination of divergent museum models, at a time when the status of the nation state is being undermined by influences of neo-liberal economics. We wish to ask: how do museums function as distributors of political ideology in this paradigm shift between national and neo-liberal economies? How do museums construct a representation of the past while the present stands in ideological contradiction to it (especially in former communists countries)? In what manner can museums be critical of the state or the politics of corporate funding, and is this mode of institutional critique from within the institution is relevant today? This questions was the starting point and framework for this conference.
Click here for the video documentation of the Conference first day and second day
Participants include: Mordechi Omer, the general director and curator of the Tel Aviv Museum, a senior professor at the Tel Aviv University, and the initiator and director of the University Gallery. Charles Esche, the director of the Van AbbeMuseum in Eindhoven and co-editor of Afterall books and journals. Ana Jenevski, curator at the MOMA Museum, Warsaw. Ariella Azoulay, lecturer of contemporary philosophy and visual culture at the Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies Program at Bar Ilan University, and a curator and documentary filmmaker. Galia Bar Or, the director and curator of the Museum of Art, Ein Harod. Zdenka Badovinac, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana. Rona Sela, a curator and researcher of local photography. Nina Möntmann, the head of the History and Theory Department at the Royal Academy for Art, Stockholm and independent curator and critic. Dalia Levin, the director and curator of the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art.
Click here for the conference program
WEDNESDAY | 18.06.08
14:00 – 14:15 >> Welcoming Remarks by Galit Eilat. Eilat is the director and curator of the Israeli Center for Digital Art and the chief editor of Maarav online magazine.
14:15 – 15:00 >> Nina Möntmann: Post-National Narratives of Belonging. In the beginning of the public museum in the 18th century, the Museum was a national project. Functioning alongside the state in forming the social order, its mission was to create the narrative of a representative national history and heritage. Today the situation of art institutions mirrors the general power relations of a late capitalist, neo-liberal constitution. But how can an art institution abandon its political strategic function and instead act out of reach of governmental influence? And how does this influence actually look in the age of global capitalism that produces free-market global managerial states merely led by economic interests? Nina Möntmann is head of the History and Theory Department at the Royal Academy for Art, Stockholm and an independent curator and critic.
15:00 – 15:45 >> Rona Sela: Clashed Histories; the Role of the Municipal Museum in a Mixed City. The Case of the Haifa City Museum, Israel. History is a natural selection. Mutant versions of the past struggle for dominance; new species of fact arise, and old saurian truths go the wall, blindfolded and smoking last cigarettes. Only the mutations of the strong survive. The weak, the anonymous, the defeated leave few marks… History loves only those who dominate her: it is a relationship of mutual enslavement.” (Salman Rushdie, Shame, 1983, 133-134) Rona Sela is a curator and researcher, focusing on the visual history of the Israeli-Palestinian national conflict.
15:45 – 16:15 >> Break
16:15 – 17:00 >> Ana Janevski: New Territories in the Museum. Museum on New Territories. The Case of MOMA Warsaw. The lecture will deal with the history of the competition for the building of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, designed by Christian Kerez, and its rebounds in the public sphere. It will also give an overview of the present activities in the temporary exhibition spaces of the Museum. Ana Janevski is a curator at the MOMA Museum, Warsaw
17:00 – 17:45 >> Dalia Levin: From Municipal Museum to Contemporary Art Museum. The year 2000 marked the break of Herzliya Museum from its physical and conceptual past. The physical separation from Yad Labanim House, a memorial site for Herzliya’s fallen soldiers (once used as the main entrance of the museum), freed the museum to make curatorial decisions based solely on artistic considerations. At the same time the museum officially changed its name to Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, the final step in its transformation into a museum dedicated to contemporary Israeli and International art. These steps had significant ramifications on the interrelations of the museum with the municipality of Herzliya as well as with the financial powers at play in the Israeli art world. Dalia Levin is the director of the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art.
17:45- 18:30 >> Zdenka Badovinac: Informal Matrices of Work of Moderna Galerija and Some Other Art Spaces in Slovenia. Similary as elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Slovenia still doesn’t have an art system that would function on par with the one in the west, which makes the various associations and bonds of solidarity between artists, art spaces, and the interested public all the more important. They have led to informal matrices of work. The last example of these kinds of initiatives was a project called, Hosting Moderna Galerija, which involves more than twenty art spaces in Slovenia supporting Moderna Galerija that underwent serious political preasure in the last four years. Zdenka Badovinac is the director of the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana.
18:30 – 20:00 >> Panel Discussion: The Museum as a De / Re Constructor of Ideology. Zdenka Badovinac, Ana Jenevski and Dalia Levin. Moderator: Nina Möntmann
THURSDAY | 19.06.08
15:00 – 15:15 >> Welcoming Remarks by Eyal Danon. Eyal Danon is a curator at the Israeli Center for Digital Art and co-founder of the Ayam Foundation which is focusing on narratives as tools for social change.
15:15 – 16:00 >> Ariella Azoulay: The Spectator of Photography can Undermine the National Foundations of the Modern Museum. In Azoulay’s presentation, she will draw the contours of the civil spectator and will ask what makes possible a civil point of view upon images. Her presupposition will be that such a point of view refuses to see photographed persons as mere objects of photographs, and will argue that this is not enough. In the context of the occupation – which will be her case study – a civil spectator should transcend not only the rules of the professional space but also those of the national space. Transcending these rules she will find herself in the space of photography where those who have been forced into statelessness and deprived of citizenship, become citizens – citizens of the citizenry of photography. Through photography, the photographed persons demand their right to political speech, gaze and action and invite the spectators to reinstate with them the political space of which they have been dispossessed. Ariella Azoulay teaches contemporary philosophy and visual culture at the Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies Program at Bar Ilan University, Israel, and is a curator and documentary filmmaker.
16:00 – 16:45 >> Galia Bar Or: The Museum and Alternative History. The lecture will deal with the meaning of the museum, the collection and the exhibition as a space for alternative memory that enables a renewed encounter with past historical intersections from a present day perspective. Galia Bar Or is the director and curator of the Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel.
16:45 – 17:15 >> Break
17:15 – 18:00 >> Charles Esche: A Possible Museum; a Look at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. Esche will provide an introduction to the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and will look at certain radical moments in the history of the museum. He will explain aspects of his current exhibition and collection policy guided by ideas of radical hospitality and critical memory. Charles Esche is the director of the Van AbbeMuseum in Eindhoven and co-editor of “Afterall” books and journals.
18:00 – 18:45 >> Mordechai Omer: The Curator as an Interpreter and the Exhibition as the Interpretations’ Resonance. Mordechai Omer is the general director and curator of the Tel-Aviv Museum, a senior professor at the Tel-Aviv University, the initiator and director of the University Gallery.
18:45 – 20:15 >> Closing Panel: Collections as a “Tool Box” for the Designing of Narratives. Charles Esche, Mordechai Omer, Galia Bar Or and Nina Möntmann. Moderator: Galit Eilat