Introduction

Between mediation and education: creating bows, undoing knots

Imanol Aguirre
President of the Scientific Committee

Childhood relationships with arts and contemporary visual culture are progressively more intense and complex. In previous editions of the Conference different aspects related to the diverse connections between art, visual culture and childhood have been examined. This edition aims to tackle aspects concerning educational mediation that implies an increasing attention to children’s art and visual culture context and vice-versa.

This phenomenon includes what is usually known in the world of visual arts as educational change, highlighting at least two questions: on one hand the awareness of the educational dimension that the artistic action entails which has been very probably ignored in the past. In consequence, on the other hand, the opening of a new field of activity for artists, designers, illustrators, children’s publishers and cultural institutions that find in this way to perceive art a spur to renew their proposals.

All of us are aware of the significance of the changes that the social habits, the new interactions with culture supported by the current technologies or determinate pedagogical trends just arrived at schools mean for this new way of relating childhood with arts and visual culture. Therefore, we have also considered that this edition of the conference could not avoid trying to analyze the complexity of this situation. As well we wanted to take advantage of the collaboration in the conference of a new cultural project very linked to this phenomenon, Tabakalera of Donostia.

To start with, it is interesting to observe that, especially in the context of museums and cultural institutions, the term of mediation is the one to have crystallized. This fact is understandable if we bear in mind that as a result of this educational change these institutions can be seen as the link between population and culture producers. However, at the educational context, we rather talk about education, stressing the purpose of the cultural activity that we carry out instead of the role that we play in it. This terminological discrepancy is the reflection of the positions and the cultural politics that are boosted from each institutional field. For this reason, we think that it is important to tackle in this edition of the Conference reflections on conceptions on mediation, art, visual culture, education or childhood that underlie in these actions.

It is also interesting to observe the phenomenon from the point of view of the topics and individuals of the proposals of educational mediation: who are the actors, who are the recipients, who or what remains excluded. In this regard, we could not avoid such present phenomena like the discussion about the identity of the artist as educator or the educator as artist, as well as the questions that arise about the place that children occupy in the curator practices, activities of museums, art institutions or visual proposals in the field of illustration.

Talking about mediation necessarily involves a careful study of the type of processes that such activity involves. For that purpose, the Conference offers an opportunity to explore the connections that can be settled among artistic institutions, publishing proposals and educational institutions. The division of roles between the cultural institutions and the school, among commissioners, museum educators, illustrators, artists and faculty entails the coexistence of a large disparity of educational strategies and methodological perspectives in the acts of mediation that need to be critically assessed. Thus, this is the moment to display the current experiences and practices of mediation that are being developed at art institutions, schools, publishing projects or daily activities of artists and educators. This is pertinent in order to better evaluate the interactions that occur amongst all the agents that take part in these actions of mediation, the proposed programs, the processes that are generated and the obtained results.

The task that we pose, as it is evident, is as ambitious as it is necessary. It will not be easy to answer all these questions, but we are sure that the Conference will contribute to clear many of them.

 

TO WHOM IT IS DIRECTED?

Teachers of pre-school and primary education.

Specialists in art and artistic education fields, including artists, teachers (pre-school/ primary/ secondary/ university education), future teachers, researchers and other people with an interest in artistic education.

Educators and mediators in art institutions and cultural services.

Specialists in the illustration field, including artists, editors and professionals in the area of language and literature.

Specialists in the analysis of images for children, including professionals linked to the study of visual culture and media.

WHICH ARE THE WORK AREAS?

The conference poses three work areas:

1. Reflection on the proposed topics, together with a group of invited specialists.

2. Dissemination and discussion of experiences and investigations on the topics covered by the participants.

3. Implementation of workshops with specialists.

 

WHICH TOPICS ARE CONSIDERED?

See Topics.

 

WHICH IS THE FORMAT OF THE CONFERENCE?

See Format of the conference.

 

WHAT IS THE ORGANIZATIONAL METHODOLOGY?

The conference creates spaces for exchange and collaborative work avoiding unidirectional speeches.

As mentioned before, plenary meetings’ talks will be complemented with exchange sessions or panel discussions where those who are interested will be able to start discussions with the speakers.

The panel discussions will be guided by a specialist in different fields who will moderate the topics included in the discussions.

The workshops will be directed by the specialists that will carry them out.