ICA-Sofia Gallery
34, Vasil Levski Blvd Sofia, Bulgaria, CO 1504

Museum - what, for whom and how?

Experts' Round Table, February 7 – 6, 2011, ICA Gallery, Sofia
Alexander Kiossev, Angel Angelov, Boryana Rossa, Iara Boubnova (moderator), Irina Genova, Kiril Prashkov, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Nadezhda Dzhakova, Svetla Kazalarska, Vessela Hristova-Radoeva, Vessela Nozharova, Vladya Mihaylova

The debate concerning the museum for contemporary art continues to be relevant for our professional community in the last years. The so called Museum Reform initiated by the Ministry of Culture was added recently to our questions, dreams and hopes.

In spite of the fact that the Ministry of Culture does not offer us a professional dialogue, we in ICA-Sofia think that such a dialogue is extremely important. The active, concerned and competent people in the professional field of contemporary art in Bulgaria should try and specify the principles on which we could, we should or we would like to see such a museum being formed and working on the basis of. Until now there is no such, even if summarized, professional platform based on the wide participation of professionals. The lack of voiced out professional position existing in the public space creates a fertile environment for populist gestures and mistrust of the professionals in the country.

In view of all of the above we have invited you to a round table for experts organized away from the media attention and the sensational interpretations. Its subject is "The Museum – what, for whom and how?" We hope that this meeting will help our professional community to clarify those aspects without which it is impossible for a museum to exist nowadays, especially in Bulgaria.

Of course, the lack or the presence of a museum is not the only problem of our contemporary art scene... However, we hope that this somewhat traditional genre of professional communication will open possibilities for future debates on a number of painful and relevant problems.

We have defined these thematic clusters:

А/ Do we need a museum of contemporary art? Who are the "we" who need it? Is it possible to define different groups (for example – politicians, artists, historians...) and their specific interests in the establishment of such a museum? Is it possible to search for compromises?

B/ The museum and the politics of memory in our present day society – what we would like the museum to be presenting tomorrow? What kind of Bulgaria would enter the museum (for example – a static one or one in development); what would be the policies of representation? What kind of a viewer do we imagine – a tourist, an admirer (pilgrim), a collaborator, a compatriot and/or an alien?

C/ The collection – its time frames, its geography and perspectives in dialogue with the public space. Selection strategies. What must and what could be done? At what moment does the "counting" of the history of contemporary art start here – from the beginning of the art practice or from the beginning of the reflection on it?

D/ The ideal museum of contemporary art in Bulgaria. Let's dream, let's talk, let's write down our ideas...

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