3 Questions to Yoeri Meessen, Head of Education Manifesta 9
Mediation is more than ever important for the success of Manifesta. More then 20.000 tickets have already been booked and sold to groups. Three questions to Yoeri Meessen, Education & External Relations Coordinator Manifesta Foundation since 2009, Head of Education Manifesta 9.
What are the highlights of this Manifesta edition's Art Mediation and Education program?
That depends on who you are. The Manifesta 9 Art Mediation and Education programs are as diverse as our audience is. We realize that in order to enable every individual visitor and participant to explore, experience and interact with the vision and context of Manifesta 9, further resources are needed. These resources are made available in a personalised way, for no two people have the same question or needs. So, what the highlights are depends on who you are. Besides advising everyone to meet up with one of our Art Mediators during their visit to Manifesta 9, I would for instance advise visitors from outside the region of Limburg to participate to the Manifesta 9 Mine-area Tour or to do the 'Searching for Parrots' sound walk. If you are from the region of Limburg or from Genk, i'd say absolutely drop by during one of our 4x9 Special Tours, Family Days or come and say hello at our Workshop on Wheels.
How do you see the role of Art Education / Art Mediation in an exhibition like Manifesta?
The most interesting attempts to answer this question repeatedly turn to the question regarding the function of art. Which is not surprising if one takes into consideration that the question ‘what something is or should be’ is not very far removed from the question ‘how something works’. Recent thought in art philosophy has moved further and further away from the autonomous concept of art. Artistic value can no longer be considered extrinsic to everyday life and general culture. It has been argued that the assumption that artistic value can be realized autonomously, independently of the patronage of arts consumers, is no longer valid. Where the creation of artistic value is concerned the role of the audience is by no means restricted to that of a passive recipient, rather it’s role is that of co producer. In this sense the role of education could perhaps best be described as that of facilitator in this process of co-production.
What do you mean by Art Mediation?
The concept of mediation itself is nothing new, it is as old as the hills. The concept already appeared in ancient times as a form of dispute resolution. Basically a mediator is a person who positions him or herself in between two parties without taking sides, or passing judgement on either of them. A mediator facilitates dialogue and the exchange of knowledge. In relation to art the term has only come to use fairly recently, basically since the post-modern turn. It relates directly to new viewpoints on the creation of artistic value. In the context of contemporary art the role of the mediator is that of facilitating the dialogue between the audience and the art. If we understand art production as a form of language construction by means of creating new aesthetic metaphors the role of the ‘arts educator’ in exhibition settings could better be described as that of a mediator. A mediator between these new metaphor systems and the various dispositions - including but in no way limited to: acquired taste, knowledge and perception - of each member of the audience. Information is not an end in its own; we do not want to restrict the role of the audience to the receiving end of a monologue. With the aid of background information, whether supplied or already internalized, we want to stimulate dialogue and enable audiences to articulate their own well founded opinion about contemporary art and its role in society.
Read more about the activities of the Manifesta 9 Art Mediation and Education department on the BLOG