Human Commonalities. Public programme

The language of contemporary culture, the inclusion of people with disabilities in the cultural process, the reception of artworks in an inclusive society were topics of discussion for participants in the Human Commonalities project.

The project at the Vadim Sidur Museum in Moscow was inaugurated by a film screening of Emanuel Almborg’s Talking Hands atthe Zagorsk boarding school for blind and deaf children. It was the visits of pupils and graduates of that school to the workshop and museum of Vadim Sidur that became one of the first attempts in Russia to introduce people with disabilities to contemporary art.

The artist Fayenne d'Evie also talks about the perception of artistic works by such people. She presents two thematic performances based on the observations and testimonies of the blind French Resistance fighter Jacques Lusseyran and the blind mathematician Bernard Morin. “I turn traditional excursion for blind people into a meeting between complex bodies (‘tactile witnesses’) and works of art that act as choreographic objects,” the artist says.

The philosopher and teacher Simon Hayhoe wonders why it is assumed that blind people cannot understand fine art. The psychologist Tatiana Basilova who works with deaf and blind people talks about how drawing, sculpting and other creative practices are used in their learning. Alexander Kondakov,  deputy editor of The Journal of Social Policy Studies, further expands the topic: he presents the results of a study on how the experience of disability and stigmatized sexuality affects a person’s self-perception, as well as their self-awareness.

The independent curator Amanda Cachia proposes to look at the problem of the so-called “curation of disability”. Based on her experience, she proposes developing a new vocabulary and a new methodology for working with topics of physical and mental disabilities, and of creating an accessible environment.

A philosophical view of the issue has been put forward by Valery Podoroga and Keti Chukhrov. The former speaker addresses himself to the ‘speech culture’ of Soviet Marxism and to the problem of personality in post-war Soviet philosophy. Keti Chukhrov analyses the concept of the ideal in Evald Ilyenkov, the author of significant texts for Soviet humanitarian thought, including works in the field of the philosophy of art.

Emanuel Almborg, Tatyana Basilova, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Amanda Cachia, Alexander Kondakov, Andrey Maidansky, Robert McRuer, David Mitchell, Valery Podoroga, Sharon Snyder, Alexander Suvorov, Sadie Wilcox, Simon Hayhoe, Maria Chekhonadskih, Keti Chukhrov, Fayen D’Evie, Elena Yarskaia-Smirnova.

Events of the Human Commonalities research programme

The history and evidence of the Zagorsky Experiment.
Talking Hands (2016)
Film screening and open talk with Alexander Suvorov, Emanuel Almborg and Maria Chekhonadskih.

Prologue to Handing (Vadim Sidur)
Performance by Fayen D’Evie (in collaboration with Sophie Takach). With the participation of Irina Povolotskaya.

Tactile Dialogue (Collective Action)
Performance by Fayen D’Evie (in collaboration with Shelley Lasica). With the participation of Irina Povolotskaya.

Arts and Disability
Open talk with Fayen D’Evie and Amanda Cachia.

Identity politics: Attempts at Critical Reevaluation
Open talk. Participants: David Mitchell and Sharon Sneyder. Elena Yarskaia-Smirnova, Robert McRuer, Alexander Kondakov.

Talking Hands
Film screening.

Cultural production (the production of man)
Open talk with Tatyana Basilova, Simon Hayhoe and Sadie Wilcox.

Radical Humanism: Post-War Soviet Philosophy and the Problem of Personality
Open talk with Valery Podoroga, Andrey Maidansky and Keti Chukhrov.