Launch of the first Russian dictionary of contemporary art terms in Russian Sign Language


From 20 September 2016




Garage Education Center


Thanks to the work of the Inclusive Department team at Garage, Russian Sign Language now has thirty-six new terms from the field of contemporary art.

As part of the training session Museum of Senses: the Deaf, a contemporary art dictionary will be presented in a video-course format, accessible to all deaf and hard of hearing visitors. Garage’s experience of working in this field demonstrated that typical literature on art is not accessible to all deaf visitors, and many contemporary art terms, such as, ‘abstraction,’ ‘pop-art,’ ‘concept art,’ etc., do not have equivalents in Russian Sign Language.

Russian Sign Language is a specific linguistic system with particular grammar and vocabulary rules that has developed over centuries. During the Soviet period, linguists ignored sign language as it was unofficially banned in schools for deaf and hard of hearing students. At the end of the twentieth century, growing interest in sign language, as well as its acknowledgement both by the government and the academic milieu, was caused by a number of factors—general changes in society towards people with disabilities, scientific acceptance of the idea that cognitive processes take place both in oral and sign languages, and the development of the bilingual method of teaching the deaf in Europe and the USA.

The video-course on the key terms of twentieth-century art in Russian Sign Language will give the deaf and hard of hearing an opportunity to gain new knowledge about art and broaden their cultural experience—with the help of the Internet. The dictionary will be available for all on Garage’s YouTube channel—garagemca.

In order to create the dictionary, Garage collaborated with a panel of experts for whom Russian Sign Language is their mother-tongue—professional interpreter for the deaf Arkadiy Belozovskiy, artist Aleksander Martyanov, actress Antonina Pichugina, journalist Aleksandr Sidelnikov, and TV-presenter and photographer Tatyana Birs.

In the year since their formation, the team from the first Inclusive Programs Department in Russia has designed educational programs for people with disabilities as a support to eleven exhibitions. They give tours on a regular basis for deaf and hard of hearing, vision-impaired, and developmentally disabled visitors and have adapted Irina Kulik’s lecture cycle Dissymmetrical Similarities for deaf and vision-impaired visitors. Co-Thinkers—part the summer exhibition season at Garage—demonstrated a brand new approach to the concept of accessibility. A group of four Museum visitors with various disabilities collaborated with the team from Garage in the process of creating the exhibition. The group influenced the choice of tone for the show and the formation of the interactive solutions that broadened the usual range of the viewers’ experience. Co-Thinkers featured sculptures, paintings, and installations by outstanding artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries such as Antony Gormley, Maurizio Cattelan, Jenny Saville, Robert Rauschenberg, James Turrell, among others.



Tatyana Birs was born during the time of perestroika in the USSR. She was raised in a family with deaf parents, where books were a priority. Graduated from the Mikaelyan Boarding School #30. Graduated from Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism as a Specialist in Adaptive Physical Culture. Currently works in the video studio as Head of the Mir Glukhikh project, also creates photo reports.


Aleksandr Sidelnikov has been deaf since childhood and grew up with deaf parents. He completed sign language instructors’ courses (in the Zaitseva Sign Language Education Center for Deaf), graduated from Vladimir State University. Took part in the film Tribe by Ukranian director Miroslav Slaboshpitskiy. Currently Sidelnikov is a reporter for the Internet sites of Central Administration of All-Russian Society of the Deaf,, also participates in organization of various public events and projects aimed at promoting sign language and deaf actors.


Antonina Pichugina was born in the Moscow region, to a family of deaf parents. A theatre and cinema artist, she works at NEDOSLOV theatre project for deaf actors. This year Pichugina finishes her internship and assistant position in The Russian State Specialized Academy of Arts as a specialist in Acting. Currently teaches the sign speech technique for theatre performances at the Faculty of Drama, as well as sign language at the Faculty of Visual Arts in The Russian State Specialized Academy of Arts.


Arkadiy Belozovskiy grew up in the USSR. As a teenager he emigrated to the USA with his family. Graduated with BA and MA degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Taught ASL and sign language interpreting at the Rochester Institute of Technology, The University of New Hampshire, and Brown University.
He currently works as a sign language interpreter, also gives lectures dedicated to various aspects of translation into sign language, questions of identity and migration, ethnicity and entrepreneurship in the context of deafness, deafness in history and culture, and accessibility.


Aleksander Martyanov was born in 1960 in the Kirov region. At the end of the 1990s he graduated from the Russian State Specialized Institute of Arts as a specialist in painting, graphics, and sculpture. He sees his creative work as close to the world of the deaf and deaf culture, and in his works he expresses images of the gestures. Currently lives and works in Moscow at the Integration Cultural Center. Martyanov is head of the art studio Palitra and HanDei drama studio for gestured miniatures.

Anastasiya Mityushina—art historian, curator, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

Maria Sarycheva—expert in cultural studies, Inclusive Programs Department coordinator, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

Vlad Kolesnikov—sign language instructor and therapist, sign language interpreter, manager of inclusive programs, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

how to take part

Free admission with advance registration.
The course will be interpreted into Russian Sign Language.