Seeds of mediation. Workshop on mapping the art mediation work

Seeds of mediation. Workshop on mapping the art mediation work
Illustration by Vivianna Maria Staņislavska

Among the main aims of the project "From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures" is enhancing creative collaborations and synergies between its partner institutions, to co-create innovative art mediation approaches and to search for new ways how to bring closer art works and their audience. In order to engage with these approaches and ways, we organised a workshop on mapping the art mediation work. It was led by art mediator Fanny Hajdú from OFF-Biennale, and was later interpeted in form of a comics by artist Vivianna Maria Staņislavska.

When our collaboration was being developed, featuring five partners, sharing similarly complicated yet completely different pasts and paths, we had to think of how to find common ground between us. Not only do we come from different institutions and countries, which don’t share a common language, we are also taking on different roles in the contemporary arts scene, as either curators, educators, art mediators or artists. Our intention with our internal workshop exercise was to facilitate and explore at process whereby our art mediators and educators could connect with each other and for our partnership to offer insights into the work of the latter. In doing so, we hoped, to gain a better understanding of what our starting points are when creating an art mediation program and how each one of us can contribute to it.

Our collaborative process, which used Miro as an online platform to gather and structure our ideas, consisted of four steps, guiding us through the process of creating a mediation activity. For this, we chose not to work with an already existing exhibition, as our aim was to ensure a clean slate. Instead, the focus was not on the content, but on cooperation between partners.

For the first step, we looked at our pseudo-exhibition’s elements, which were collected by all partners independently. Our elements were: objects (paintings, statues and installations), along with some information on the selected art works and their creators; a space where the objects could be presented; a topic and key words for the exhibition; a topic and key words for the mediation; and target groups for the mediation activity, mentioning the age, background and number of participants.

The second—and longest—step was to brainstorm creating an art mediation event for the exhibition. The brainstorming happened individually, but simultaneously. Our tool, Miro, provided us with the opportunity to follow and draw further inspiration from each idea put on the board. We collected ideas based on the following questions:

• Which element(s) would you start from?

• Where do you imagine doing the programme?

• Name one activity that you would include in the programme.

After having collected our ideas and key words on the board, we took a look at each and every one and tried to put together our ideas into a rudimentary event plan. This third step was an opportunity to work from each other’s ideas, merging and further developing them into a rough structure. It also helped us to let go of our initial ideas, and by doing so, practice the act of collaboration.

The workshop resulted in a diverse range of ideas offered for different spaces and moments—before, during and after visiting the exhibition—for a variety of target groups. Although it was “only” a theoretical exercise, with both the exhibition and the planned activities remaining unrealised (for now!), we believe it was a useful way to create a bridge between us, regardless of our background, languages or roles.

In this way, it too, like art, might be considered a pass to cross the boundaries separating us all.

Text by Fanny Hajdu