On December 16, 2021, an online workshop "How can art mediation engage vulnerable audiences and help to communicate difficult pasts" was organized as part of the collaborative project "From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures", which was broadcasted live on Facebook. Here we are offering to read a short description and to watch video recordings of the presentations and discussion.
How can art contribute to a more inclusive society by taking into account the needs and interests of a wide range of audiences, such as children, young people, seniors, or people from socially excluded groups? How can we share our experiences and learn from and with those audiences? How can we engage in dialogue through art and collaborate with people from communities we do not encounter on a daily basis? And how can alternative strategies in art mediation help to communicate questions related to complicated pasts and work on critical memory?
The participants of the seminar—exhibition curators, museum educators, and artists—share their experiences of how mediation and new forms of audience collaboration can not only help to create a socially responsible and inclusive environment, but also reflect on and address issues that are related to the uneasy relations between past and present, their entangled nature in the twentieth century, and the consequences that difficult pasts have had for contemporary realities in Europe.
Ieva Astahovska, Māra Žeikare (LCCA);
Agnieszka Wojciechowska-Sej (Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź);
Eglė Nedzinskaitė (NGA);
Virág Lődi, Nikolett Erőss (OFF-Biennale);
Szilvia Szénási (Uccu Roma Informal Educational Foundation);
Mimmi Sjö (Malmö Art Museum);
Jenny Kagan (artist, “Big Action");
Katarzyna Bojarska (assistant professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw);
Anna Priedola (artist, Data Recipes for Short-Term Memories).
More information about the workshop is available here.
Ieva Astahovska and Māra Žeikare, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA)
These presentations introduce two recent LCCA projects which aim to find new ways of approaching issues related to difficult pasts and to recognize art mediation as a powerful tool to make our societies more open and inclusive. “Communicating Difficult Pasts” (2018–21) is a transdisciplinary project that aims to understand how violent pasts have transformed in the Baltic States and acquired new forms.
The second project, “Agents of Change: Mediating Minorities” (2020–22), is wider in scope and unites five cultural and civic organizations from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Sweden. Together they seek to test new models of interaction between minorities, cultural institutions, and civic organizations to contribute and shape policies supporting cultural diversity, inclusion, and societal integration.
Eglė Nedzinskaitė, curator of educational programs at the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius
In her presentation, Eglė Nedzinskaitė introduces two recent projects at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius. Both projects aim to open up possibilities for people with various disabilities to experience art according to their needs and to legitimize them as just another group of gallery visitors.
Katarzyna Bojarska, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw
How do artistic interventions create space for communication and transmission, allow for the working through and negotiation of public memory, create forms of memory activism and dissidence, or depart from hegemonic forms of commemoration to perform memory in public space? Katarzyna Bojarska will lead a brief discussion on how art mediates troubled pasts and offers future forms of collectivity, multi-directionality, and solidarities of memory based on research carried out in Poland, Germany, Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Greece, Cyprus, and Spain.
Jenny Kagan, artist
This presentation will introduce a project made for Kaunas Biennial in 2017. The brief was to consider and create new monuments. The Big Action was a selection which took place in the Kaunas ghetto in 1941 during which almost 10,000 people were murdered on one day. There was no marker on the site and no record of the event. Jenny Kagan’s response to the brief was a community intervention in the form of 26,652 custom printed carrier bags, created in collaboration with the students from the local high school. The project sought to create an active monument, with the intent to engage the residents in cross generational conversation, about a story which had taken place on the ground beneath their feet, but of which many knew nothing.
Agnieszka Wojciechowska-Sej, educator of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź
Art mediation and education means being sensitive to the local aspect of our actions, an openness to the involvement of the inhabitants. That’s why Agnieszka has chosen two projects to display: the first is a cooperation with the Szczekociny community focused on the city’s Jewish past, and the second is the “Coco and Vinci” project with proteges of the Correctional Centre for Youngsters in Łódź, which ran from 2015 to 2016.
Mimmi Sjö, curator for mediation and education at Malmö Art Museum
History through Art is an innovative project for high school students that takes its starting point in an investigation on how to activate, make relevant, and renegotiate history – through looking at art.History education today focuses more on the uses of history than repeating the same chronicles as the generations before, and as a museum we have to be relevant and transparent when mediating history through our collections and exhibitions.
Virág Lődi, head of the mediation working group, Nikolett Erőss, curator, OFF-Biennale Budapest, and Szilvia Szénási, Uccu Roma Informal Educational Foundation
Within the framework of the third edition of the OFF-Biennale (2021), the project RomaMoMA has presented some untold and unheard histories of the Roma in form of performative actions and workshops, as well as an exhibition. Among them, the first public presentation of the legendary pannea of Tamás Péli became a particularly important project milestone. Originally painted on the wall of the dining room of the orphanage in Tiszadob (1983), the painting is an outstanding landmark of contemporary Roma culture, an act of collective creation, and a transmission of a creation myth.
Anna Priedola, artist
During her latest art project “Dairy Diaries” Anna Priedola has explored dementia and memory loss in older age using a material that is just as ephemeral and does not keep long—dairy products and freshly cut vegetables—inviting seniors and their relatives to join the cooking workshops, to taste the statistics about cognitive health and to create their own data recipes for long lasting mental agility.
Food brings people together and sparks the conversation but cooking workshops create also challenges in the art context and especially working with various audiences (dementia patients / seniors that are in the risk age group / relatives of dementia patients) which will be discussed in artist’s presentation, as well as the used methods and creative outcomes of the workshops (not published before).
Dairy Diaries is created together with the LCCA mediators and will be on view in an exhibition at the Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum in 2022. Audiovisual diaries and data visualizations introduce and depict the daily life and perception of seniors with dementia, their socio-political realities, and their human relationships. This work is part of the project “Agents of Change,” which aims to promote understanding about contemporary art as a creative process that engages society and is based on conversation—attuning to the needs of local society and raising topics of significance to it.