4 December, 2022
With Suhanya Raffel (Executive Director, M+, Hong Kong), Aaron Seeto (Director, Museum MACAN, Jakarta) and Zoe Butt (Founder/Director, in-tangible institute). Moderated by Maud Page (Deputy Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney)
Sydney Modern, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
For the inaugural opening week of ‘Sydney Modern’, Maud Page gathered particular curatorial minds leading public and private art institutions across Asia, of how they conceive a future for their artistic communities. What this discussion revealed was how the built environment can catalyze the accrual of cultural knowledge, but also of how such ambition can draw the ire of political jurisdiction. While collection building was highlighted by Suhanya as instrumental in giving meaning to collective memory for a museum’s target audience; Aaron Seeto emphasized the disparity in access for audiences due to economic or cultural disenfranchisement, thus the need to take the museum to the people; while I chose to share my own relationship to museums since I was a child, of my asking ‘where do I belong?’ in the visualization of history, reminding the diversity of museum ethos across the world that is sometimes a site of great historical trauma, a family-run momento of the past, a multi-conglomerate consumer experience or an artist-run initiative. What we all agreed was the need to produce museums for our future that encourage audiences to attend to what they do not know, that our museums must be inclusive of the diversity of human and non-human actors, as safe spaces of tolerance and respect.