Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 | penelope
This fall, several students in a cross-cultural art and aesthetics class worked with a group of women that have recently immigrated to Waltham, Massachusetts to develop the first, “experimental” cell phone tour at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum. The women, students in a local ESL school, participated in several classroom sessions discussing some of the works in the Rose’s current show, and visited the museum twice to engage with the art and develop their responses and ideas, which they then recorded, in their native languages, as part of the cell phone tour.
Throughout the collaboration, the use of technology (such as a cell phone-based tour) and its ability to engage the women and their responses raised questions about the use of such technology as a vehicle for meaningful voice and agency at an (sometimes in accessible) institution, and in the educational process and engagement with the women. Our role as facilitators and people “in the know” at the Rose Art Museum raised questions about the transmission of knowledge, privilege and social positioning as it relates to developing and sharing knowledge at a contemporary art museum. I’m hoping to share the feedback from the women, some pieces of the tour, and address some concerns about accessibility that have been raised and either ameliorated or exacerbated by the experience.