Transitory Parerga: Access and Inclusion in Contemporary Art
edited by Dr Martine Rouleau (University College London) and Dr Vlad Strukov (University of Leeds)
The discussion of access and inclusion in contemporary art is both topical and integral to Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia), one of the backers of The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums & Culture (The Garage Journal, hereafter). Founded in 2019, The Garage Journal is an independent interdisciplinary platform that advances critical discussions about contemporary art, culture, and museum practice in the Russian and global contexts. It publishes empirical, theoretical, and speculative research in a variety of genres, celebrating innovative ways of presentation. Fully peer-reviewed and available in open access, it provides a sourcebook of ideas for an international audience. The journal’s website will be launched in May 2020, with the first issue planned for autumn 2020.
Finding an approach to the problem of access and inclusion that would bypass an inside/outside, included/excluded dichotomy is the challenge we raise with this issue of The Garage Journal. Art in itself does not include or exclude. Contemporary art is often characterized by a lack of uniformity, an eclecticism that is reflective and responsive to changing ideologies, cultural diversity, and technological advancement. Defining it as an entity is only as transitory as identifying what influences it from what might seemingly be perceived as an outside.
As a productive framework to reconsider access and inclusion in the arts, we suggest a rethinking of Derrida’s concept of parergon, first introduced in The Truth in Painting (1978). Derrida discusses the parergon as coming ‘against, beside, and in addition to the ergon, the work done [fait], the fact [le fait], the work, but it does not fall to one side, it touches and cooperates within the operation, from a certain outside. Neither simply outside nor simply inside’. The function of the parergon is thus to create a framework that recontextualizes what is being framed.
Institutions (museums, art colleges), ideologies (value systems, canon), architecture (buildings, urban planning), curatorial paraphernalia (interpretation, frames, plinths) frame contemporary art. They include and exclude, give and withhold access by centralizing contemporary art in Euro-centric urban areas, by creating unpaid or poorly paid employment opportunities, and by catering mostly to non-diverse audiences. By looking at these entities that frame contemporary art, point to its significance, signal its value and move in and out of the transitory focus of art itself, we have a framework that allows us to discuss art and its boundaries without limiting our investigation of access and inclusion to intrinsic qualities of art.
There is of course some value to the identification of variables that might alienate and welcome various individuals or communities. Some of the most cited issues are often lumped under cultural, economic, intellectual and/or physical barriers, perceived or actual. Unless this exercise is used to remove obstacles to engagement and participation, it can quickly become a mere snapshot of a time and place in the history of art. More conducive to an analysis of access and inclusion that is not as limited in time and reach is a conception of the art world as a moveable, permeable locus of attention and production, the centre of which moves with external and internal factors that give shape to its periphery.
The issue was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite contributions that include but are not limited to:
- Access requirements in art institutions
- Diversity of labour (or lack thereof) in the art sector
- Limiting/enabling function of art education
- Gender and representation in contemporary art
- Race and representation in contemporary art
- Nationality and/or ethnicity in contemporary art
- Health and representation in contemporary art
- Socio-economic variables and representation in contemporary art
- Interpretation, language and the semantics of access
- Critical discussion of the function of interpretation in art institutions
- Political implications of access to culture/art agenda
- Disability and access to contemporary art
- User-design and accessibility in exhibition design
- Outsider art
We invite contributions in English, Russian or German in the form of articles, visual essays, data essays, interviews, and archival materials. The Garage Journal does not commission artworks.
Proposals for contributions are due on May 10, 2020.
To submit a proposal, please provide the following information in English:
- Contribution type (e.g., article, visual essay, data essay, interview, etc.)
- Language of contribution (English, German or Russian)
- Title of contribution
- Abstract (300 words)
- Key words that indicate the focus of the contribution (e.g., Access, Diversity, Education, Museums, Market, Labour, Curating, Architecture, Urban Planning, User Design, Audiences, Disability, Gender, etc.)
- Biographical information: including a short biographical statement of maximum 100 words stating research interests and relevant professional experience, and a list of no more than 10 publications relevant to the themes of the special issue
- Send all the information requested above—as a single PDF document—to editor Andrei Zavadski at email@example.com.
For more details, please write to Dr. des. Andrei Zavadski.