Personal Museum supports a more personal engagement with artworks in museums. Flooded with online information, people are seeking more intimate, physical and often collective experiences; many want to be participants rather than spectators. Personal Museum responds to these longings. It aims to create space for meaningful experiences, reflection, and exchange. It is designed to let the visitor spend time in a museum with a higher level of attention and engage with works of art through direct association with one’s life experiences.
Resonating with Luis Camnitzer, we are interested in three perspectives of engaging with artworks: looking at an artwork (admiring the craft), looking around an artwork (the context where it comes from), and looking through an artwork (relating what you see to your own life, rather than speculating around what we think the artist wanted to say, bringing the experience to a more personal level: what you see, what you choose to pay attention to, what it makes you think of, how it makes you feel). We facilitate such engagement through embodied inquiry and slow art experiences.
Background thinking. Cultures of inclusion
Museum space feels like a modern temple: a collection of sacred objects, a place of connection to past generations, a learning ground to enrich one’s horizon about cultures, places and people. It is a place that is sharing the love for art, and offers to spark visitor’s imagination and creativity. Traditionally the visitors are seen as recipients of content, and more often than not find themselves on a rather standardised journey, keeping an outer as well as inner distance from the surrounding objects and people.
What if a museum could transform itself? What if, through art, it could invite and facilitate a more profound connection to oneself and to others? The idea of “Personal Museum” is to facilitate a more dynamic and creative way for a museum to engage its audiences, to become a catalyst rather than a preserver, to be actively creating new cultural landmarks that might reach and touch people in a more profound way. We feel a need for a museum to become a more lively place, involving more of a human being beside their ability to look at the artwork and receive factual information about it. Rather than staying a passive recipient we invite people to research their own perception, and different ways to gain knowledge, to interact with other museum visitors, to connect to the artworks through involving different senses.
Personal Museum is an exploration of our own stories and imagination reflected by the works of art. An art object becomes a guide into multitudes of our inner experiences. Going beyond a theoretical discussion educating our knowledge of art history and aesthetic taste, we let the artworks to touch us and we find ourselves reflected in them. This process becomes a research into ourselves. We learn to let go of habitual patterns of being in a museum, to come closer to the artwork and to our own sensitivity in front of it, to reflect on human experience and exchange with others, to trust our perception and personal vision, to stretch our creativity and awareness. Such an experience offers us to be both receptive and creative: to perceive and to respond, to take in and to express. We engage in a process that can be associated with a path of shaping life itself into a work of art.
Modules of the programme
EMBODIED VISION is an experience connecting art history and the practice of embodiment. It aims to shift the habit of treating the world as a place that can be looked at from the outside but not lived in, sensed and felt. Inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and his work on embodiment, perception, and ontology. This module is offered in the format that can be described as a mix between a tour and a workshop guided by an art historian and an embodied learning facilitator. Embodiment practices support us in approaching the artworks closer, to sense and feel them, to let them reflect our own lives back to us.
This experience creates a reflective space to increase self-awareness, to notice inner resonance with the artworks, to exchange with others. We develop an ability to notice and reflect upon our feelings and motivations without the immediate need to act upon them, as a real-life situation would require.
Museum through a book
This experience is built around a simple book that we design for a specific museum. The books are thematic and also specific to a museum. Themes include “Art as Poetry”, “Art as Experiment”, “Art as Philosophy”, “Art as Storytelling”, “Art as Paying Attention”, and “Portraiture and Gesture”. This module opens a space, in our busy world, to stand still in front of an artwork, to take time, to pay attention, to develop qualities of receptivity, to see the world through the eyes of an artist, and at the same time to pay attention to our own response, to how it affects us, and then each can leave traces of it in one’s personal book. At the end of the journey participants come together and exchange experience with each other.
Exploring the senses
In a world where we find ourselves living in the digital and the virtual so much, we are interested in returning to multi-sensory perspectives on life — and this way also moving back into our bodies through sensory perceptions. Our senses allow us to perceive reality around on multiple levels, to develop attention and experience the world around through the integral relation of senses with each other, as well as experience how they are allied with the notions of the body, emotion and cultural memory. Looking at the paintings or sculpture or other artworks is only one part of the experience. What olfactory memories do artworks evoke in us? Can we even interpret artworks in smells? How about sounds? This module is designed in collaboration with olfactory and sound artists.
This module is designed as a playful journey through a museum alone, in pairs, in trios and together as a group coming back at the end of the itinerary. It is designed for a more present attention, playful interaction, and space for own creation in a museum. The entire experience can be for a group between 3 to 20 people, and last between 2 and 3 hours. There is an exhibition of participants’ improvised works at the end of each journey. The process is summarised in pictures below.
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