meeting gathered a panel of bloggers from different backgrounds but with a shared
interest in contemporary art around Marc Sanchez Artistic Director of the CNAP
–the National Center for Fine Arts which organisesmajor cultural events for the Ministry of Culture - and Aurélie Lesous, who is in charge of
mediation and educational programmes for Monumenta.
On at the moment is a piece much talked of : Christian Boltanski’s installation entitled « Personnes » for Monumenta, a widely acclaimed yearly artistic confrontation between the 13,500 squ. meters of the Nave of the Grand Palais and a internationally renowned artist creating a piece for the occasion.
Monumenta’s main focus is to promote contemporary art beyond its usual fanbase, reaching out to wider audiences to fullfill the gap in understanding that exists between audiences and contemporary art, changing typical reactions such as « How should I interpret this ?», or « I could do that myself ! » into a dialogue.
We were all gathered to discuss the reception of contemporary art amongst audiences and the work Monumenta achieves in this respect and had a very thought-provoking exchange on the conditions required to engage audiences online as well.
first discussed the philosophy of cultural mediation, Aurelie insisted that the
first goal of mediation is to propose and not to impose. The interesting thing
about initiatives like that is that the Grand Palais is not filled with guards
at the moment but with mediation-trained agents, not a familiar sight in a usual museum in
France. If the visitor wishses to, he can then engage in a dialogue with
mediators about the particulars of the work presented and thus start to work on
his own impressions.
With that in mind, a discussion about the online translation of this belief in dialogue started.
Why not extending these precisous dialogues and personal impressions beyond Monumenta ? Why not having a blog to communicate on this, or more genrally a job done with participation of staff to enhance Monumenta?
The reason why Monumenta has chosen not to engage in a full online development says Marc Sanchez is because he does not necessarily feel comfortable with talking about an arts event while organising it. What is the role the staff would endorse ? Could it be perceived as mere advertising ? In this regard, Marc Sanchez discussed some past experiences, some of them when he was a manager of the Palais de Tokyo which spoke in favour of his doubts, typically some mediators who took part to the dialogue being quite violently bashed for being bound to be biased and do sheer promotion of the work. The way I personnaly see this issue is about finding your own voice. If staff engages in a conversation about Monumenta and are criticised for that, it can be because they haven’t yet their own space of expression where they would be asolutely legitimate in launching and framing debates and collecting some testimonies. In Monumenta's case, creating a space where the mediation-trained staff can interact with audiences seems more relevant.
What are your thoughts on the subject ? Are those fears legitimate and how do you swiftly accompany the change in the way staff and audiences interact ?
Thanks to the Cnap for receiving us and for being open to discussion, this is much appreciated.
Photo credit : Alexandra Rigaud