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A Brief Review of the Preparatory Art Mediation Workshops for Dhaka Art Summit 2018

by Dr. Rachel Mader, Head of the Competence Centre for Art and Design in Public Space, HSLU in Lucerne, Switzerland

 
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Most, if not all of the participants of the workshop on art mediation in Dhaka were hearing this term for the first time. Their persistent questioning of what exactly the term art mediation meant, was therefore not only an expression of a deep interest in the subject, but proved to be a fruitful start to discussing how art mediation could be practiced in a context like the Dhaka Art Summit.

The point of departure for our workshop wasn’t to explain or clarify what art mediation is, or should be - although we obviously intended to initiate a couple of discussions on what it could be. Our discussions were primarily based around insights into practical experiences on a variety of chosen tools already existing, tested and adopted during our first workshop on art mediation, implemented during the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016. The intention of the tools developed were not to teach people about art, or specific art works, but to enable and foster each individual's perspective. This approach was not obvious to the participants at first, and took some time to communicate, but when we were concerned with trying to situate our attitude, which obviously is nurtured by a critique on traditional formats of art mediation (e.g. guided tours), the participants began to get more of an idea of what should (and could) be mediated.

The participants came from very different professional backgrounds, which composed a multi-vocal set of ideas, and nourished the debate and activities in a most fruitful way. With a total of 25 participants, the group was rather big, but this made the discussions lively and every once in a while, a little bit wild. The enthusiasm about the idea of offering the Summit's visitors the possibility of engaging with the exhibited works in a more direct and individual way was overwhelming. Quite a few of the participants formulated proposals on how they could adopt art mediation strategies within their professional contexts. It was this kind of engagement, not at all limited to performing as an art mediator during the art summit, but re-appropriating the exchange for all different kinds of activities, which was an inspiring experience and an aspect of our time in Dhaka that I will include in future initiatives on art mediation.

This series of workshops was collaboratively organised by Lena Eriksson (Lucerne), Ruxmini Choudhury (Dhaka), Rachel Mader (Lucerne).