Contemporary Art Mediations as Collaboratives Practices in a University Art Gallery Setting
In this paper, we will investigate collective and oral contemporary art mediations in a university art gallery setting. By "mediations", we mean those interactions which take place between various non specialist art viewers and one specialized art mediator that lead to the activation of the artwork's meaning in the exhibition setting. As museum educators/art mediators, we are especially interested in the dynamics at play in these interactive, oral and ephemeral "in-between spaces" where social context — as represented by the viewers' experience —, the artwork's reality and art theory meet. What we want to address is how participatory action research — which is a process-oriented type of research — can be used as a tool of exploration, documentation, development and distribution of these collective contemporary art mediations?
In 2001, when we were both museum educators at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, we collaborated on an action research project. Later, we both returned to university — one of us, in order to finish her master's degree in art history, and the other to start a PhD in Communication Studies — with the desire to further investigate the action research process. We are currently directing an action research project at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery of Concordia University were one of us works as the Education and Public Programmes Coordinator. This particular project will be the focus of this proposal.
With our ten years experience as museum educators, both of us are convinced of the necessity of defining an approach to art that will allow a sharing of diversified experiences and interpretations of contemporary art, seen as a cultural object in it’s social environment. By the process of action research, we want to develop a coherent and structured approach for these mediations through a dynamic engagement with viewers either non specialized or specialized in contemporary art. Furthermore, the documentation and distribution of the content of these art mediations will make a unique and innovative contribution to academic research in art, culture and communications, as well as contribute to developing an inclusive approach to museology in the context of pluralist societies.
Keywords: Cultural Studies, organizational communication, aesthetics, contemporary art, museum pedagogy, sociocultural theory, action research, mediation.
Education and Public Programmes Coordinator & PhD candidate in Communication Studies, Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery of Concordia University, Concordia University
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal & Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)