Conversations On The (Museum) Wall – From The Visitor’s Voice To a Visual Voice

Can a contemporary art museum have a “voice” of its own? And what type of voice would that be? What would contemporary art museums have to secretly tell the world?
This proposal rises from (my own) wide-ranging experience in art mediation practices in contemporary art museums, which gave shape to a set of research possibilities.
To look at art mediation practices not as something that is (often) trapped in the middle of art education and curating, but regarding at this “middle place” as one privileged location to search and reflect and to move on to an independent form of knowledge production.
It is well known that art mediators have a profound experience on the exhibited artworks and the possible contents that derive from there, but they do hold another type of knowledge within them, and that is not to be found anywhere else. This is something we could name as the visitor’s voice.
The nature of the work of conducting a “guided tour” with people from different backgrounds is actually similar to gathering them into a single conversation as if they were all in tune, which obviously contrasts with the most profound human nature: we all know that even on families there are major disagreements, and some actually reside at the core of individual’s beliefs.
So, one of the main premises here is that this “discipline” of art mediation is grounded on a contradiction of practices and behaviours, that increase its complexity as one tries to approach it (like a wall).
A “guided tour” in its definition (and historical background) is formally similar to a lecture where a docent expresses the knowledge he/she has on an exhibition or specific artwork, therefore guaranteeing verified sources and granting the visitors a sense of satisfaction by learning something they did not know before.
But the practice of art mediation today will dictate that this same individual (that transmits the information) will repeat this performance during the days, weeks and months that an exhibition lasts. We all know it is not simple to disclose a story about something that we did not experience ourselves neither to repeat that same story dozens or hundreds of times.
The most interesting possibilities in art mediation are precisely the ones that are unexpected: the introduction of new information expressed by elements of the public: whether in a claim or affirmation on as a question or uncertainty. Because what gives this “docent” the power is the same thing that makes him/her extremely exposed: art mediators are performing inside museum galleries, face-to-face to the artworks and visitors instead of having them comfortably sitting in an auditorium.
And if from the presentation of specific contents (and ideas) related to the artworks, individual visitors tend to listen to the mediator and reflect, sometimes they also share their own thoughts on the subject, producing a type of unnamed knowledge. And when this share happens, the only way that there is to preserve the information is through the memory of that mediator, which is a fallible and human-limited archive format.
The ambition of this work is to set stone to the construction of a collective memory, one from which the contemporary art museum is just an excuse to begin discussing, and therefore guaranteeing that the outcomes transcend the museum and go out there looking for connections in the streets, the squares, the parks, hoping that some of those ideas might get back to the museum, and change it.

Event Title European Conference on Educational Research - ECER2017
Comunication Title Conversations On The (Museum) Wall - From The Visitor’s Voice To a Visual Voice
Date 22 of August of 2017