Russian Deaf Culture: From Boarding School to Museum
This interdisciplinary research is conducted by the curatorial collective Council (f. 2013, Paris) in collaboration with artists Tarek Atoui (b. 1980, Beirut) and Alison O’Daniel (b. 1979, Miami).
Brought together by their shared interests, they look at how our idea of hearing is represented in the arts and how it is transformed by artistic practices. The investigation is unprecedented for both the Soviet and post-Soviet historical contexts, as it raises the question of access to archival documents and scientific research relating to “deaf culture.”
Exploring physiological, social, and artistic aspects of hearing, the project analyzes non-evident connections between society’s understanding of deafness; the development of academic music; the history of mime; the Soviet phenomenon of radio enthusiasts; the legacy of filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky; and sound art. As well as visiting museums and educational institutions relating to the culture of hearing, which are the main object of their study, the artists and curators visited the All-Russian Society for the Deaf; the Museum of Deaf Education; the E. T. Krenkel Museum of Radio and Radio Enthusiasts; and the M. I. Glinka Museum of Musical Culture. The research was organized in collaboration with Garage Inclusive Programs Department, the first museum department in the country to be dedicated to developing new interpretative and accessibility approaches for people with various forms of physical disabilities who wish to participate in museum activities and in culture at large.
Working within the local context and with the team at Garage, the researchers collected a number of important questions posed by deaf and hard of hearing artists, curators, museum staff, and potential visitors. These questions have been condensed into an interview and feature in the video A Portrait in Progress, presented here. The interviewee is Vlad Kolesnikov, manager of Inclusive Programs at Garage. A hard of hearing museum professional, deaf teacher, and signer, Kolesnikov shares his personal and professional views on different aspects of the project. Suggesting new approaches to understanding deafness and its connections to sonic culture, this first interview will eventually be one of five portraits that will be shown alongside the exhibition Infinite Ear, which will be presented at Garage in 2018. The series will lay the foundation for a discursive platform for the exchange of individual experiences of sound, hearing, and deafness.
This interdisciplinary research project is part of TACET—a long-term inquiry initiated by Council at the Sharjah Biennial in 2013, which continued with the exhibition Infinite Ear, developed in collaboration with Tarek Atoui’s project WITHIN and presented for the first time at Bergen Assembly in 2016.
Initiated in 2017.
Council (Sandra Terdjman and Grégory Castéra) & Tarek Atoui with Alison O’Daniel
E. T. Krenkel Museum of Radio and Radio Enthusiasts
All-Russian Society for the Deaf