We tend to consider aesthetic experiences as the most complete because of the unique operation of emotions and intellect. Here, the emotions function cognitively. Aesthetic experiences offer a productive terrain for questioning and shaping individual and collective perceptions, representations and attitudes. We have initiated the project with the following questions:
How does an encounter with a work of art – an individual experience in itself – create a possibility of relating and attuning to others?
How can our rich and complex cultural heritages offer foundations for shared symbolic worlds in our increasingly diverse societies?
How can the critical examination of difficult pasts lead not to separations and mutual amputations, but to possibilities of thinking together?
Can an emotional and sensitive understanding offer stronger and more inclusive insights into what brings us together and what drives us apart?
Finally, do our gallery education and mediation practices fully consider the cognitive and empathic potential of the aesthetic experience?
These questions were submitted to our partners, major cultural institutions such as the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the Pompidou Center. Together with their educational teams, we started to reflect on concrete and experimental projects that could generate possible responses to these questions. Two distinct but complementary projects have been designed as a result: Museum in dialoog/Musée en dialogue and La Tablée, each with a specific focus and several overarching concerns. More information about these projects will be shared soon.
With our third partner, Theatrum Mundi, a research center founded by sociologist Richard Sennett, we have initiated and commissioned a research fellowship Voi[e,x,s]. Starting from an observational study of a participatory artistic project Chapelle-Charbon, the researchers will explore how a shared sensory experience affects people’s relationship with each other and their environment.