• gerard van weyenbergh

2020, will be a dark year for the artworld.

Who would have predicted that culture would be paralyzed in Europe and in the world. Who had thought that museums, art centers, cinemas, and theaters would be closed, fairs and festivals canceled, art galleries prohibited from access, and artists, painters, photographers, musicians and actors locked away? What the art world is going through today is unprecedented, surreal even, in its capacity to go beyond the imagination. In mid-March, in a few hours, everything suddenly stopped, first for a while; then what seemed like a parenthesis ended up lasting and turning our lives upside down. "Nothing will ever be the same again", we hear all day long about health, human relations, but also culture. But what could change?

A/ To start, the means granted to culture: it is accepted that the bill left by the Covid-19 will be high, and no one sees how, in the months and years to come, cultural establishments and projects could pass between the mesh of budget restrictions.

B/ Then, attendance: the more than 80 million foreign tourists who visit France, its museums and monuments each year, will take time to come back. Simultaneously, the public of art and heritage lovers, such as school children, will see their visiting conditions change (by reservation, in small groups, etc.). For how long ? No one can say it today.

C/ Finally, the exhibitions: the postponement and cancellation of part of the spring and summer exhibitions creates a real headache in institutions' programming for the next twelve months and a slowdown in activity.

SURREAL - The Covid-19 pandemic plunged the world into a surreal situation that brought the art world to a standstill: artists, museums, galleries ...

But the crisis linked to Covid-19 reveals another truth, an older one: the race for major exhibitions and attendance records which has accelerated over the past twenty years, further unbalancing the cultural offer of major cities that cannot register in the circuits of international art loans. In truth, this crisis has long been identified by museum actors. In France, several curators and directors have been calling, for several years, for a return to the local, a return to permanent collections that are sometimes forgotten, if not neglected, by a system focused exclusively on events. How many still go to a museum to take the time to admire a painting? Experiments are being carried out in this direction in Rouen, Lille, Rennes, Grenoble, Orléans, and elsewhere to revitalize the collections and give meaning to the institution. The great Parisian museums have understood this, which today play on both sides simultaneously by being part of the program of major international exhibitions while seeking to improve the reception of visitors and by being united. That is why, without denying the dark years that will befall culture, this crisis can be an opportunity to rethink our relationship to museums and the history of art and artists. Let's have a more responsible and united relationship, also more individual, based on experience and knowledge, where longer and sometimes more demanding exhibitions would rely more on the richness of the French collections and the artists working in France. For Walter Benjamin, it is necessary to create the concept of progress based on the idea of ​​catastrophe. That "things continue as before," continues the philosopher, that is the catastrophe. " © Le Journal des arts