Baby steps to ARS

Do you often get lost in Kiasma? Is there an exhibition here that is always on show? How long have you been working in Kiasma?

These tough questions were pencilled on pieces of paper by Kirsi, Kaisa and Teemu from Vironniemi kindergarten. Their expedition team ’Polly wants a chocolate biscuit’ came to Kiasma in May to interview for the kindergarten’s Viesti (Message) magazine.

The interview would be the first of many joint activities Kiasma and the kindergarten would undertake in connection with ARS. The children will delve deeply into contemporary art during the coming autumn and spring. The fruits of the project will be for all museum visitors to see in the forthcoming exhibition. A number of children from Vironniemi will serve as ARS guides assisted by adult guides as part of the children’s event of spring 2006.

But the Vironniemi children are not the only ones training as museum guides for ARS. Kiasma is also starting a project with art schools in Espoo and Vantaa, in which the young students will run ARS workshops for other children of their age.

REVERSING THE ROLES

So are ARS organisers short of competent staff, or why do they train so many new guides? Not really. Kiasma’s team of some twenty competent and inspired guides is still there, happy to tell all ARS visitors, regardless of age, about the works and discuss them. ’Peer guides’ will, how-ever, provide something extra to the interaction between art and the audience. For children to be guided by someone of their own age may help create a much more personal relationship with contemporary art as their experiential backgrounds and aesthetic development stages are closer to one another.

But the adult ARS audience is also offered a more pluralistic approach. This means that the art works are not just presented from the perspective of the established canon of art. Instead, new approaches to contemporary art and contemporary interpretations are actively sought. A philosopher, social scientist, psychologist, or why not even a clergyman, politician or a lay person, may take on the role of a guide and take visitors on a completely different kind of tour through the exhibition.

The guided tour programme for ARS may turn out to be an exploration into a new kind of museum talk, where the established expert’s voice is toned down. The themes of ARS are not exhausted by a single visit, its contents are in constant flux and take on different meanings, depending on the guide.

Riikka Haapalainen
Acting Head of Education