2020 Annual Symposium

Cultural Alliances: The Imperatives and Challenges of Collaboration

December 5 – 6, 2020  |  Hosting Institution He Art Museum (HEM), Shunde, Guangdong

WATCH | Symposium Full Livestream (Skip to 0:12:27)

(Shunde–December 9, 2020) Cultural Alliances: The Imperatives And Challenges Of Collaboration took place at He Art Museum (HEM) from December 5-6 and featured a one-day conference and one day of workshops for Museum 2050 partnering institutions. The third edition of Museum 2050’s annual symposium continued important conversations about the future of China’s cultural landscape and attracted 72,680 international livestream viewers as well as an in person audience of 160 in Shunde over the course of the weekend. 

Focusing on the question of the concept of collaboration, both in its proliferation in recent partnerships amongst museums, particularly in China, and as a centerpiece of creative production, this year’s keynote presentations on December 5 by Daniel Arsham, a New York based artist, and Nikita Yingqian Cai, Chief Curator at Guangdong Times Museum, addressed different ways of approaching partnerships and fundamental questions of how museums will respond to post-pandemic realities respectively. Mr. Arsham concluded that “collaboration can always be challenging, but for me it’s about the people I’m working with, whether we share a similar work ethos. There are many more invitations to collaborate than I have taken up, but in some ways, the things that I’ve said no to…are as important to the world that I’m building as the things I did choose.”

Papers were presented both virtually and onsite by speakers of a broad range of backgrounds and this year’s sessions explored a wide range of future-facing issues. Brendan Ciecko, the founder and CEO of Cuseum, presented his insights into the emergent relationships between museums and brands, including tech companies and startups.

Adjunct Professor at Williams College, and Director Emeritus at Clark Art Institute, Michael Conforti, proposed the establishment of long-term institution to institution international partnerships that could result in institutional enhancement of all contributing partners through the exchange of people, objects and knowledge.

China Residencies ’s co-founder & director Kira Simon-Kennedy and cultural researcher Xiaoyao Xu presented an exploration of the collaborations between multinational individuals and institutions, while Yang Wang and Zhenzhen Qi from ZZYW, an art and research collective, pressed for the importance of computational simulation as collaborative making in the interdisciplinary space, and its implication on architecting emergence.

This symposium also featured Sissi Tang, a curator, art consultant and art writer who addressed the important role of public policy in developing and particularly shifting collaborations in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, while researcher Sophie Xiaofei Wang examined the phenomena of cross-border and cross-field partnerships within the art industry. 

Vicky Zeng Ying, a researcher from Central China Normal University National Cultural Industry Research Center, provided insights on the history of the art industry in Wuhan, while Sue Mengchen Xu, a Beijing based art educator, advisor and writer, considered the social responsibilities of art and the value of cross-community dialogues.

Interdisciplinary artist Anita Chen presented on contemporary art interventions located in the ocean, while Executive Director of Chronus Art Center, Bi Xin provided insights on the pairings between institutions and laboratories, technology companies and think tanks. 

London-based writer Sarah Forman presented her insights into the oft-neglected complications of interpersonal interactions, advocating for an active communication model through a brief survey of differing exhibition frameworks, while curator Sophie J. Williamson explored the concealed collaborations within the silent philanthropic turning of all matter: past, present and possible.

The day’s session closed with Lindsay Taylor from the University of Salford and Sarah Fisher, Director of Open Eye Gallery, who together shared their secret to successful collaborations, with a focus on the Peer to Peer model of distributed leadership they jointly developed and delivered in Liverpool and Shanghai in 2019, and a presentation by Emmanuelle Khoo Fong Yi, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, who examined how the production of hybrid museums, through a host of transnational actors, contribute to the process of branding of place. 

In addition to presentations, panel discussions responded to questions about the ways in which Covid-19 is impacting museums worldwide, how technology is dramatically altering public engagement and how small businesses and artists are collaborating to drive creativity and innovation. 

On December 6, Museum 2050 and Para Site in Hong Kong hosted a series of on-site and virtual workshops to allow for networking and provide professional training in China’s rapidly transforming cultural landscape. 

Ole Bouman, Founding Director of Design Society, and Huang Wenlong, Assistant Curator at Beijing Inside Out Museum led a workshop on the techniques and challenges of envisioning a creative enterprise and the Inside Out Museum’s publishing practice respectively, while Dane Currey, the Principal at UAP, and Chu Menger, Senior Curator at UAP,  gave attendees a unique perspective on developing commissioned public art works both in China and abroad. 

Museum 2050 is grateful to He Art Museum for serving as this year’s hosting institution and also thankful for the support of Para Site and Jing Culture and Commerce that made the symposium’s activities and success possible.

The forthcoming proceedings featuring all the papers presented during the conference as well as contributions from the workshops by Design Society, Beijing Inside Out Museum and UAP, will be launched in spring of 2021. The publication Cultural Alliances: The Imperatives And Challenges Of Collaboration will be Museum 2050’s second such undertaking and demonstrates the platform’s ongoing commitment to creating a discourse around institutional development in China. 


Saturday, December 5

Conference *Presented Virtually

09:00     | Opening Remarks

09:15     | International Keynote: Daniel Arsham*

Collaboration in 3020

10:00     | Brendan Ciecko*

Disrupting Museums: Innovative Trends in Partnerships Between Museums and Startups

10:15     | Michael Conforti*

Museum Cooperation in the 21st Century: International Partnerships and the Sharing of Resources

10:30     | Kira Simon-Kennedy & Xiaoyao Xu*

金兰之交:Forging Long-term Friendships, Sustaining Collaborative Exchanges

10:45     | Yang Wang & Zhenzhen Qi*

Designing Emergence: Computational Simulation as a Mode of Collaborative Making in Museum Space

11:00     | Panel Discussion + Q&A*

12:00     | Sissi Tang

Collaboration and Challenge: Multicultural Policy and Art Practice in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

12:15     | Sophie Xiaofei Wang

The Formation of Cultural Alliances

12:30     | Vicky Zeng Ying

A Brief Analysis of the Development Track and Opportunity Based on the History of Art Industry in Central China

12:45     | Panel Discussion + Q&A

13:45     | Keynote: Nikita Yingqian Cai

From Great Leap Forward to the Rerouting of Geo-infosphere

14:15     | Sue Mengchen Xu

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Museum Education for the Blind or Partially Sighted: Fieldwork in the United States and China

14:30     | Anita Chen

Waves and Change: Environmentalist Possibilities in Underwater Art

14:45     | Bi Xin

Out of the Box: &, × and @ in the Experimental Synergy of Art and Technology

15:00     | Panel Discussion + Q&A

15:30     | Short Break

16:00     | Sarah Forman*

An Active Communication Model for Transnational Institutional Collaboration: Presuppositions of Difference and Understanding Exhibition Histories

16:15     | Sophie J. Williamson*

Resurfacing Silences: Collaborations with Geology and Through Deep-Time

16:30     | Lindsay Taylor & Sarah Fisher*

What’s the Secret?

16:45     | Emmanuelle Khoo Fong Yi*

– The ‘Shekou Model’: Brandscaping the Museum-Mall in China

17:00     | Panel Discussion + Q&A*

17:45     | Concluding Remarks

Monday, April 29

Workshops | Co-hosted simultaneously with Para Site in Hong Kong

Workshop participation is open to independent art professionals and staff of Museum 2050 Partnering Institutions. If you’re interested in attending or have further questions, please email us at contact@museum2050.com

09:30     | Ole Bouman, Founding Director, Design Society

Culture Beyond Competition 

One can establish private museums, display personal collections, start single issue initiatives. One can envision a creative enterprise, based on meticulous market research and a thorough business case. But building a new public institution can never be an isolated endeavor, separated from the social-political dynamics of the time. So one must be aware of them, analyze them and galvanize them to propel a new visitor destination, a new creative platform, a new cultural brand to relevance. This workshop will explore the techniques and challenges of sensing, envisioning, piloting and scaling with respect to positioning design institutions, based on experiences of both the workshop host and participants.

11:15     | Huang Wenlong, Assistant Curator, Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum

Little Movements: Chinese Publishing Practices in Contemporary Art (Institutions)

This workshop looks at publishing practices in contemporary art. From the mid to late 1980s, Chinese art critics active at the forefront of contemporary art in China threw themselves into publishing of art theories and journals and writing of art histories as ways to mobilize artistic creations and to enable their opinions to become general knowledge. There was a great sense of urgency in their actions. These efforts were not just supplements to the dynamic of the art world in the 1980s but were actual substances and actions that constituted what was often described as New Wave Art Movement (xinchao meishu yundong). By revisiting these historical actions from the current perspective, we should look at them both as products of their time and as significant bodies of works that contributed to the formulation of generalized conceptions of contemporary art in China. This workshop will re-examine such historical practices in the first part. The second part of this workshop will introduce publishing practices at the Inside-Out Art Museum in relation to such historical precedents.

13:00     | Lunch

14:00     | Dane Currey, Principal, UAP & Chu Menger, Senior Curator, UAP

Developing Gallery Practices for the Public Sphere

Public art has a seemingly unlimited list of potential benefits, from fueling creativity and beautifying our cities, to improving our quality of life and adding value to assets. How these public pieces are curated, designed and fabricated plays a key factor in determining if the piece will be considered a worthwhile contribution to the public sphere. By exploring recent case studies of commissioned public art works both in China and abroad, this session will chart the progression of the formulation of artwork strategies, to the adaption of artist studio practices in a different medium and scale, and the eventual implementation in the built realm.

Afternoon at Leisure and/or cultural visits around Shunde

About He Art Museum (HEM)

Located in Shunde, Guangdong, He Art Museum (HEM) is a family established, non-profit private art museum designed by Tadao Ando. Focusing on the culture and arts in modern and contemporary period with an international vision, HEM is devoted to present compelling art exhibitions, as well as diverse and open cultural activities. With its unique qualities, HEM hopes to establish a hub of communication to explore the integral values of cross-cultural exchange.

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