Svetlana Sequeira Costa
Arts Cabinet’s work was presented in the context of a Seminar Series developed by ARVIMM (Research group into the visual arts of the Muslim, Maghreb and Middle-East worlds from the 19th to 21st centuries), which took place in Paris on 18 November 2016.
Our aim was to give an insight into Arts Cabinet’s history of forming links, connections and cooperation with partners in North Africa and in the MENA region – with particular emphasis on different models that Arts Cabinet developed in the course of its 3 years of existence.
The presentation described our initial proposal for a model of exchange that identified the artistic residency space as the node from which a process of collaboration could evolve particularly with the higher education sector in Europe. This proposal aimed to respond to European cultural policies and offered what was perceived then as an opportunity to protect artistic expression by carefully identifying nuclei of exchange that would safeguard experimentation, research and engagement.
Subsequently, Arts Cabinet presented its current model which positions Arts Cabinet as an independent platform that asks questions through art, facilitates exchange, brokers encounters, documents and disseminated new knowledge. This model evolved from a critique of the previous processes which recognised the artistic values of the proposition, but pointed to the fact that these were still inscribed in a system of exchange that augmented asymmetries, established clearly the boundaries imposed by traditional ‘centres of power’, depended too much on support for mobility and functioned essentially as an academic institutional framework.
A rich debate followed the presentation during which extremely important questions were raised, including issues of authorship when a body of artistic work is formed between artists and researchers, about the limits and the in-betweens of research practices and methodologies, as well as criteria for selecting artists and projects.
Arts Cabinet is very grateful to ARVIMM for having hosted this Seminar which shed light into the opportunities and problematics that an independent, small and flexible organisation can face as it sets itself out as a platform for the enquiry into art, operating globally in today’s complex environment.
As one of our main tasks is to examine and interrogate our work critically, these questions are welcomed and fundamental for the improvement of our offer and progress towards what we hope will become a new ethics in cultural cooperation.