"We should find a way to unite, that seems to be the only solution"

26 January 2022

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CIMAM 2021 Duygu Barlas, Founder Narmanlı Sanat, Istanbul, Turkey.

In 2021, 50 contemporary art curators, researchers, and museum professionals from 32 different countries were awarded support to attend the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference, in-person and online.

For the first time, and thanks to the generous support of The Getty Foundation who sponsored the virtual platform, 27 grantees attended the conference online, while 23 attended onsite.

Launched in 2005, CIMAM’s Travel Grant Program is designed to foster cooperation and cultural exchange between contemporary art curators and museum directors in emerging and developing economies and their counterparts in other regions of the world.

Duygu Barlas's Conference Report

I have been developing a curriculum on subjects related to arts and culture, freedom of speech, and gender equality. My focus group is a selected group of young women from disadvantaged Turkey regions, aged between 18 to 22. Thus, I found Joanna Sokolowska's take on the subject exceedingly inspiring. 'Denaturalization of women as an available natural resource; capitalism demanding cheap-nature'. The question arising from this observation is how to overcome it. Maybe as she suggested, all men [should] become sisters! Without any segregation, we all have to play an active role in reaching an effective solution. My program, as mentioned before, is solely for young women, but I am aware that educational programs for young men must be designed as soon as possible. Realistically, we live in a male-dominant culture; hence, changing the male perspective on gender is necessary; otherwise, empowered women might even suffer more in barren lands. As T. J. Demos noted, we all need to play an active role to achieve D.E.A. and social justice in a broader scope.

Dipesh Chakrabarty's distinction of global and planetary was also eye-opening. Especially worldwide reactions: passivity and rejection, delayed action towards global heating within the historical frame were gripping. Unfortunately, capitalism does not comprehend "earth as a system". Mostly everything is about short-term profit-making. This shortsightedness may be due to humanity's talent for ignoring death. (Which actually may be a curse.) We never live today as if this is our last day. Days seem to be infinite. We are selfish.

In summary, we should find a way to unite. That seems to be the only solution. But the unfortunate reality is that with increasing authoritarianism, we are headed/dragged in the opposite direction.

As Sokolowska stated at the very beginning of her speech, "I don't feel like an agent of change."… Somedays I agree, someday's I don't. But however we feel, we must act and act fast.