C Magazine

Meaningful Inclusion

Meaningful inclusion necessitates investment in long-term interpersonal relationships, between artists, institutions, curators, educators, publics and surrounding communities. The interrelationships of the individuals within a space define the accessibility of the place, and these relationships are a product of lasting, intentional care. In the privileged arena of the museum, a radically new order can be created through a series of commitments that transfer value from objects to people, both as audience members and content-creators. Here, we focus on the responsibility of institutions and curators to activate these relationships so that individuals who are marginalized can claim access to cultural platforms.

This is the story of how we convened around these ideas and came to clarify how inclusion can be meaningful. We have been collaborating on a project that reimagines accessibility and challenges the visual primacy of art institutions, entitled (2016–present). Through the project, we are investigating non-visual learning and tactile aesthetics through the development of a methodology for haptic criticism, and publicly crowdsourcing vocabulary for tactile description of object-based art. The project has undergone two phases thus far; dialogue and participation have played key roles in both. Within the first phase, Whitney selected 16 artists whose work held an engaging tactile aesthetic, and Carmen contacted these artists, entering into dialogue about tactile access to their work. The resulting exhibition 1 presented: excerpts from these conversations in both printed and audible forms; two interactive sculptural works with complete tactile access ;2 and an opportunity for exhibition visitors to document their own descriptions of the works’ tactual qualities via writing or voice recording. The second phase, at the Queens Museum in New York City, centred youth input in the production of museum object descriptions. We shared a

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