The third time, the Balkan Museum Network will be holding its regional museum conference “Meet, See (critically), Do”. This year, we will gather in Novi Sad (Serbia), on April 15-17. The host of the conference will be the Museum of Vojvodina. Throughout the conference, we will be taking a critical look at museums in the Balkans, asking ourselves, what can we do better? How can we engage with the community around us? Should museums take sides in contemporary debates? What are the best approaches to interpretation and storytelling?
Workshop: Consciousness of the Shared – Anna Viola Hallberg, (Museum of Vojvodina – Ground floor, (April 16, 11.00-12.00)
The session “ Consciousness of the Shared” is a workshop to explore potential geopolitical critical contingencies. The attending group performed an intervention in public space called “Breaking Bread”
Keynote: ART AND ACTIVISM – Anna Viola Hallberg
(Museum of Vojvodina – Main hall, April 17, 9.30 – 10.30)
We can think of art as something that is provoking but it can also be facilitated to construct micro realities, or platforms, to think about so- city or a specific collection or topic. This keynote will pinpoint some experiences working with friction as method towards an emancipatory strategy.
Conference program >>>
Balkan Museum Networks Pre Conference Web Questions to Anna Viola Hallberg
BMN: What can a museum offer to artists? And, on the other hand, how an artists can contribute to the work of a museum?
AV: Artists can contribute by meditations of and critical approaches to personal experience, collective memory and narratives as well as detect tangible connections between the layers of and the structuring of time: the past, the present, and the future. Depending on the modality of the work, artists can create convincing temporalities, perhaps also unexpected narratives. Museums are charged spaces as it comes to collections, topics, and history, but also the space itself. These circumstances are great assets to work with for artists. It is also an opportunity to access knowledge and resources from the staff. And off course a production budget!
BMN: What are the relations between cultural heritage and contemporary arts?
AV: It’s funny! Sometimes the shortest questions are the most complex ones. The relations…. as in what links us… or in how we feel and behave or act towards each other? I’ll respond to the first interpretation. I think what links us is that we both explore how we live life and that we work with mediated realities. Perhaps the one thing that differs us is our relation to if we need to show an actual reality or not. Heritage is very serious about authenticity and the arts happily play with it.
BMN: Cultural heritage is sometimes recognized as something old and boring. How can an artist or a museum change public opinion in order to promote valuable heritage and arts?
AV: Its not the public opinion we need to change, I think its the systems that evaluate us. We need to come up with an alternative way of measuring what we do. We are driven to think lager audiences, new target groups etc. It would be very interesting if we could work together on ways of evaluating the importance of what we do instead of getting trapped in the Neo-Liberal wave hitting arts, academia and museums. Cultural heritage museum visits or the experiences of art working in a critical modality might not be block buster material but it is quite relevant to how societies are shaped so they do not become absolutely totalitarian. The potential visitor already have what they need the palm. Phones are access points to piles of information, but not how to interpret it, not to have challenging dialogues or even to maintain a conversation. Museums foster us to think in reflective ways, they are spaces with high ceilings – this is important. And artists are not the only ones that love high ceilings both in a physical and metaphorical way.
BMN: From your perspective, what would you recommend museums so they become more socially relevant?
AV: I think the coalition between artists and a museum can provide new attitudes and by this reach both a momentum and a sensation of something interesting going on. By this the museum gets a spark from the artist and the artist is sanctioned by the institution. An example of what can be brought to the plate is challenging ways to address one of the greater issues with cultural heritage, as I see it, the tentative link between cultural heritage and nationalism. Something quite acute not only for the Balkan region but in Europe at large, in times of conflicts and migration.