Human Commonalities. Exhibiton

A joint project between the V–A–C Foundation and the Manege Moscow Museum and Exhibition Hall explores how people with disabilities perceive art and what can help to include them in the contemporary art process.

Human Commonalities is an interdisciplinary study which includes an exhibition, performances, film screenings and open talks. Its aim is not just to discuss how to integrate people with disabilities into the cultural process, but also to form a theoretical basis for artistic practices linked to the topic of disability or aimed at an audience of people with disabilities, and also to find strategies to help make artistic sense of these issues. In addition, the project should also be a step towards creating a truly accessible cultural space, one of the key principles behind the conception of GES-2.

The Vadim Sidur Museum was not randomly selected as the venue for this project: the theme of disability and trauma occupies one of the central places in the works of this sculptor. At the end of the 1980s they brought pupils and graduates of the Zagorsk boarding school for the blind and deaf children to Sidur's atelier and museum. Thus the museum became one of the first Russian cultural institution where people with visual and hearing impairments could become acquainted with contemporary art.

As part of the research part of the project, the Vadim Sidur Museum hosts a series of talks in which Russian and foreign art theorists, philosophers, teachers, psychologists, historians, sociologists, artists and curators take part. They discuss the specifics of working with the topic of disability, the history of its representation in art, the search for alternative forms of understanding it in terms of new artistic practices, as well as the interpretation of this problem in the 20th century philosophy, economics and other contexts.

The exhibition combines the works of Yuri Albert, Asta Gröting, Darrin Martin, Vadim Sidur, Alexandra Sukhareva, Fayen d’Evie, Sadie Wilcox. It helps to make sense of the perception of an artistic work and the process of creation in the face of physical differences between people.

The project also includes two performances by Fayen d’Evie, developed in the course of the artist’s interaction with deafblind people. The joint work of d’Evie along with Australian artist Sophie Takach, Prologue to the Contact with the Works of Vadim Sidur, is an attempt to adjust the mechanisms of the tactile perception of sculptures. And the performance Tactile Dialogue (Collective Action), created together with choreographer Shelley Lasica, is based on the idea of the physical interaction between the artist and participants, which occurs when they explore works of art together.

Specially for the project inauguration, the Vadim Sidur Museum creates an accessible environment for the blind and hard of hearing. With the assistance of specialists of the Con-nection deaf-blind support foundation, excursions for people with disabilities are be organized during the exhibition, and specially trained mediators participate in all the events.

Curators: Anna Ilchenko and Yaroslav Alyoshin.

Participating artists

Emanuel Almborg, Yuri Albert, Tatiana Basilova, Amanda Cachia, Maria Chekhonadskih, Keti Chukhrov, Fayen d’Evie, Asta Gröting, Simon Hayhoe, Alexander Kondakov, Andrey Maidanskiy, Darrin Martin, David Mitchell, Valery Podoroga, Irina Povolotskaya, Robert McRuer, Sharon Snyder, Alexandra Sukhareva, Alexander Suvorov, Sadie Wilcox, Elena Yarskaia-Smirnova.

Each project of the V–A–C Foundation is designed to contribute to the development of a more "adult", more conscious, and therefore more modern society. With the project at the Sidur Museum, we hope to combat the wording about "limited potential", common, but completely unacceptable in 2016. The anticipated restraints are just other possibilities, and they need to be treated as a resource for which conditions must be created. You can’t see the most important things with your eyes. Our perception is so blunted that we are ready to take the boundaries of our horizon for the boundaries of the entire world! Life proves every day that sight and vision are not identical. The real limitation is precisely the lack of vision, and I am deeply convinced that art is able to form it, regardless of any physical attributes.

— Teresa Iarocci Mavica, Director of the V–A–C Foundation