MUSEUM 2050 Dispatches

UPDATES FROM Q Contemporary

Eszter Csillag

The first thing we had to do when Covid-19 hit in early 2020 is to readjust our focuses and priorities. Founded by the Hong Kong born Queenie Rosita Law, Q Contemporary is an art space opening next year in Budapest with a focus on Central Eastern European contemporary art. While in a normal year we would spend months traveling around the region and working from Budapest, this year myself and our Hong Kong team shifted our attention towards local engagement. We organized talks, and presentations and worked on future collaborative projects within the dynamics of the Belt and Road Initiative. This period indeed turned out to be a very useful time to spread word and let people know about Central Eastern European contemporary art which is often not part of the international mainstream conversation.

Yet, in the recent years there has been artists from the region who got rediscovered, but still many of them with an amazing body of work are totally neglected. Some of those rediscovered are by now represented by international galleries and so we started a series of talks in Hong Kong with Hauser & Wirth on Central Eastern European female artists we are both engaged with. This allowed us to educate collectors, and art lovers and talk to curators. On one hand the pattern we set up for these talks is that myself and the director of Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong, Ying Yue Li give a presentation on an artist in focus such as Geta Bratescu, Alina Szapocznikow or Rita Ackermann to name but three. On the other, it is followed by a workshop which gives a first-hand experience to our guests as an integral part of knowledge generation.

In addition, this period was good to engage with curators and institutions from Hong Kong and China to explore collaborations and shared projects. The similar political systems of the post war period in China and most of the Central Eastern European countries allow to open up dialogues and find similarities and differences between the two regions. While we planned to create cultural exchanges as a later step only after opening our space in Budapest, we started to work on it this year already and so far we met open doors for future dialogues.

Finally, we used this year to research on some of the artists who are totally out of the radar. It is very normal that they do not have English publications, whose body of work is scattered in their home country without a well-organized estate to look after them. To find their works, to do research on them and to start systematizing their oeuvre takes time, and this year turned out to be very useful for that. Probably with a normal year full of traveling, this kind of work which requires time, focus and plenty of attention would have not been possible. Our team in Budapest is working on getting ready with the building and with our opening exhibition so in that sense we found a good balance on continuing working hard but also adjusting ourselves to the limitations and the restrictions of the current situation.

About the Author:

Hong Kong based Eszter Csillag (@eszter.csillag) is the Artistic Director of Q Contemporary since it’s foundation in 2018. She is responsible for the Q Contemporary collection, programming and collaborations.

About the Series:

Museum 2050 has always been about bringing people together through our community’s shared passion for museums and institutional development. As the world slowly and carefully starts reopening, we are checking in weekly with various members of our broader network to share personal reflections, anecdotes and musings about how they and their institutions have been operating in the face of this pandemic. In these incredibly difficult times for all, we hope that these brief vignettes from around the world bring us closer together, and remind us that even when the world stops and museum doors close, we still persevere.