Membranes Out Of Order was created as a safe and inviting environment where visitors can come not only to look at things but also to talk with us and each other. The programme of guided tours, talks and discussions promoted the fostering of dialogue with various audiences. Similarly, as it was our intention to unveil the processes of our work practice and to afford an insight into rarely, if ever, seen research materials, we decided to extend our disclosure approach to the accessibility of the exhibition. For us, this also involved highly welcome procedures of metaphorical reflection on the nature and materiality of our works.
Conceiving accessibility for the show confronted us with some areas of friction with which we worked. One of them concerned the limited resources of an independent project that lacked the structure to establish fully accessible practices. However, as practitioners with varied professional experiences, we combined the insider’s understanding of the field with the valuable experience of one team member. Karolina Żyniewicz had previously worked at the education departments of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, where she had facilitated accessibility for audiences with visual and cognitive impairments. She could thus weave together the insider’s understanding of artistic practice and the requisite skills to curate the accessibility of the show.
A meaningful critique of ableism calls for the involvement of disabled communities. Therefore, we established a collaboration with the Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband e.V. (DBSV; German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted) and consulted Reiner Delgado, a DBCV official, at each stage of developing our show. He reviewed the guided tour script and transcribed the written exhibition materials into Braille. Liza Vasiljeva collaborated on the process as an assistant. It was a unique chance for the entire Membranes artistic team to learn new methods of making visual arts accessible to visually impaired visitors.
The accessibility of the Membranes out of Order exhibition was founded on three elements:
1. Direct experience of the show: on Fridays and Sundays, Karolina Żyniewicz and Liza Vasiljeva had shifts in the gallery dedicated to visually impaired visitors. A special guided tour was based on the oral description and provided an opportunity to touch selected exhibits and tactile representations prepared by Żyniewicz.
2. Materials printed in Braille, in German and English: the flyer with the descriptions of the rooms and the projects on display; a tactile map of the show, with a short legend. Visually impaired visitors could either check out these materials to visit the exhibition independently or take them home.
3. Audio description of the exhibition available on the project website: a guided tour with audio description for visually impaired visitors has been recorded and uploaded to the Membranes out of Order website to make it possible to experience the show after it closed.
Guided tours with accessibility
December 11th / 16th / 18th / 30th