• Issue
  • Jan 01, 2022

Antwerp: Multipolar Horizon

Installation view of JUMANA MANNA

There are organizational “nuts-and-bolts” questions, and there are artistic ones. Let’s start with the practicalities of functioning in 2021. Unlike their Dutch and German neighbors, Belgian museums kept their doors open the whole year, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA), where I work. We had to deal day-to-day with the pandemic, though a lot of scenario planning the year previous went into making a safe environment to activate programs again. It felt good, as well as symbolic, that visitors trusted museums, and museum-going lends itself to social distancing. Conferring with our peers in Asia, my colleagues and I at M HKA asked, for instance, how the National Gallery of Singapore designed its new signage and what measures the Mori Art Museum had taken leading up to its reopening. These transcontinental exchanges gave us a chance to underpin our museum’s increasingly Eurasian trajectory, which we have developed over time through artistic dialogues, historical research, exhibitions, and acquisitions. Despite the concerns about globalization’s ecological and socioeconomic impacts, multipolar dialogues for the cultural sphere are as vital as ever.