Alexander Kolesin: The art therapist is a stalker of

Alexander Kolesin: The art therapist is a stalker of

The St. Petersburg art psychotherapist Alexander Kolesin works with disabled people more than 20 years. He is an author of several rehabilitation techniques connected with judgment of works of different types of art – painting, a sculpture, dramatic art, cinematography. The museum iskusstvoterapiya became a basis for Alexander Nikolaevich’s all work so it will be logical to begin about a series of detailed stories about his techniques with it.

Alexander Kolesin: From August to December of the 1993rd year I participated in the organisation of competition festival of the presented disabled children "Hope-2". That year in Russia the second time was noted the World day of protection of the rights of disabled people (on December 3), and the city hall of St. Petersburg has allocated solid funds for carrying out festive actions.

When holidays have died down, parents of the special children participating in concerts, and some leaders of the public organisations who have become interested in our cultural projects, offered further cooperation. Before me there was a dilemma – or to continue our meetings and to fill them with the new contents, or in general to stop this practice. Then such meetings did not enter into my official duties, and no structure which was engaged in the organisation of such meetings, existed. And here from the middle of December of the 1993rd year I began to meet weekly group of disabled children and their parents in the Hermitage. It was my personal initiative to which I devoted the days off. So it has turned out that these occupations proceed till today – 20 years with different children and groups, on different conditions and different museums. We do breaks only for the summer and for a while when I leave Petersburg.

How you had an idea of rehabilitation work on the basis of art?

And. To.: It is possible to call this way of interaction technology, its history totals more than two hundred years. The similar technology practises in Russia since the beginning of the XIX century. Has most accurately formulated principles of such interaction with a work of art (a picture, a sculpture, an architectural construction) at the beginning of the XX century the Petersburg regional specialist Nikolay Pavlovich Antsiferov. In the book «Soul of Petersburg» he writes about a spiritualizatsiya ("spiritualising") of an artistic image as a way of communication with lifeless object of art. Antsiferov considered as the main task of experts of museum and excursion work to fill space of the city, palace and park ensemble, a museum exposition with experiences of people which created this architectural complex, a sculptural masterpiece, a work of painting. The guide as the conductor on mysterious tracks of visual arts, telling about any artefact, should animate it, turning from object of perception in the subject of communication.

According to this concept, the real art activity is possible in conditions «the subject – subject» interactions, in the course of a dialogical exchange of valuable judgments and aesthetic estimates.

How vysheoznachenny umopostroyeniye are connected with practice of a museum iskusstvoterapiya?

A.K.: High-grade inclusion of any person in space of a museum means gradual complication of dialogue, increase of its "mnogosloynost". (To the viewer, the listener, the researcher – we will designate it as first participant of dialogue) it is necessary for visitor of a museum to enter into communication with a work of art (we will designate this system of artistic images as the second participant of dialogue). If the initial step of communication is passed by the first participants with the maximum positive experiences, there is a probability of emergence of dialogue with the author of work (the artist, the sculptor, art school – we will designate it as the third participant of communication).

Having reached a point триалога, «the advanced fan fine» will try to pass to the category of professional critics or dealers in antiques, and stops in confusion before a chasm of personal experiences, fleeting inspirations, deceptive and unsteady subjective enlightenments, more often. In my opinion, exactly in this point work of the art psychotherapist begins. Like the art critic and the scientific critic, the historian of arts and the culturologist, the conductor of a symphonic orchestra and the theatrical director the art psychotherapist acts as the conductor of special people in a shoreless sea of art, generally "stalker" in this unsafe space.

Record of a lesson of Alexander Kolesin

Alexander Kolesin: The art therapist is a stalker of

On whom I can rely at the moment of communication with masterpieces of the West European painting? On texts related to me on spirit of art critics, historical studies and svyatootechesky reflexions on plots of Shabby and New Precepts. For example, arguing on Rembrandt’s picture «Return of the prodigal son», I remember that historians of painting wrote about this picture and I give their options of treatment of characters. In this case and the sensible Bible is for me a source of someone’s thoughts and experiences because in interpretation of biblical scenes the centuries-old theological tradition has huge value.

But feelings of the first participants of dialogue – special children and teenagers – about the persons seen by them and subjects, about composite constructions and colour scores become the main moments of art and therapeutic occupation, after all. If to use an example from chemistry lessons, the role of the art psychotherapist during session can be compared to catalyst presence in the course of chemical reaction. He is (art psychotherapist) not the reason of "chemical" reaction, but indispensable a condition of its course. We by right can call him the fourth participant of art communication. Thus, interaction of four subjects makes a formula of the multilevel dialogue described by Mikhail Mikhaylovich Bakhtin as the classical polyravine. Having united experiences of domestic schools of psychology known to me and pedagogics with received on chair of ethics, an aesthetics and philosophy of culture of the Petersburg university theoretical concepts, I have started to practise occupations with special people on this system.

This process for you occurred on a course of your occupations? Or by the time of their beginning you already for yourselves have formulated, how will work?

And. To.: Before starting to be engaged with special children in the Hermitage, I fulfilled this technology on relatives and closest friends. And they very strongly resisted to it because not all can suffer how I within 20-30 minutes argue on something before a picture, to wait, while I completely "will fulfil" the experiences, involving in this process of passive listeners and the audience. I practised this technology from time to time, accumulating experience of safe interaction with brave volunteers. But when before me in the Hermitage there was a group of special children and teenagers (7-12 people, depending on circumstances), and also their parents and other relatives, I have understood that here they will listen to me up to the end. And if that, far they do not escape (laughs – And. L.).

So proceeded the first five years, since 1993. Someone came, someone left, but the steady group of 17 families was created. Then friends and acquaintances of these families began to join us. Within five years, communicating with special children and teenagers in the Hermitage, I gradually passed from an active monologizm, from stories that I see, to dialogue with special people. I began to listen to that they speak. Here then there was a possibility to create a certain system. I call it the program of a museum iskusstvoterapiya. It differs from art therapy in classical understanding, art therapy is use of drawing in dialogue of the psychologist and the client. The museum iskusstvoterapiya is a complex system of interaction of the special person and the helping expert in museum space. The museum can be local history, historical and memorial, art and architectural, it can be a museum of children’s creativity. Time has shown that is not important, in what museum there is an art and therapeutic session.

How you have agreed with Hermitage administration about carrying out your occupations?

And. To.: First us anybody about anything did not ask. Disabled people and persons accompanying them can go to the Hermitage free of charge. Our campaigns in a museum were a spontaneous private initiative – I did not represent any organisation. But in the Hermitage the order of the Academic Council that only regular employees of a museum can carry out excursions operated. To solve this problem, we in the 1994th year have addressed to museum administration with the letter from one of the organisations of parents of disabled children. In the letter the request has been stated to allow classes in the program of a museum iskusstvoterapiya with special children and adults accompanying them. So we arrive every year – till today – and to us annually authorise. After all harm from us is not present – we from halls do not take out a picture, a floor nails we do not scratch. Well, there are excesses – someone slept on a floor during session, someone has eaten somewhere in a corner (thus, did not leave after itself garbage). For the first years together with the benevolent staff of the Hermitage, using management permission, we have gradually changed the relation of all personnel of a museum to special people. In 20 years with us it has not been connected any excess, scandal, state of emergency. And for many employees we even welcome guests – us very well know and hospitably accept.

How you have new groups? From where they come?

And. To.: With the first group we were occupied five and a half years. After a while me have invited in the St. Petersburg association of public associations of parents of disabled children "GAOORDI". From 1996th year I did together with ГАООРДИ some projects, and from 1998th to the 2003rd year I was the regular employee of association, headed the working group on creation of the Center of creative rehabilitation of disabled children. For years of work in the Center we have created более10 the directions of art and therapeutic work and have brought together more than 30 experts. Each public organisation entering in ГАООРДИ, had the right to try all directions of creative rehabilitation. And they tried.

And what expected consequences? For that do you wait from the specific person?

And. To.: The purpose of any art psychotherapist – harmonisation of a psychoemotional condition of the client, the person which enters into space of creative rehabilitation.

This harmonisation – situational? Or the purpose – to affect human life in general?

And. To.: It is hard to say. Not everything depends on efforts of experts, we should understand that we are not omnipotent. If we meet interest of the special person and his family, results happen brilliant. A lot of things depends on understanding of a situation all her participants – not only the expert and the client. Here other experts participating in life of the client, both a family, and a near circle of a family are important also. When all, at least, do not disturb each other, then the good result will by all means be shown.

Harmonisation of a psychoemotional condition is a basis of personal structure. It is important to us to find that will help to find hidden in it feeling which were endured by the artist at the moment of work creation, and those feelings with which it has allocated heroes of work in a work of art. And as soon as we find it, the polyravine begins. Thus to us the primary context of work is not always important.

Except the Hermitage in what a museum you worked?

And. To.: The state Hermitage is for me, undoubtedly, a base museum. But I had to give classes and master classes in an anthropology and ethnography Museum of Peter the Great, in the State museum of history of religion. Outside of Petersburg I gave master classes in various museums of Krasnoyarsk, Norilsk, Tikhvin, Moscow, Neryungri.

You have much told about families of your clients. But after all you are engaged and with the people who are constantly living in various public institutions.

And. To.: They get on our classes in an initiative of those people which somehow unite them. Here example: I work as the volunteer in orphanage for children of preschool age, and children from there come on occupations to a museum together with tutors, logopedists and psychologists. Show interest to occupations specialised educational institutions and the regional centres of social service of the population. As a rule, orphans are accompanied by social workers, teachers or psychologists.

In 20 years of work you had with someone from your clients friendly relations? Whether you communicate with someone from them out of occupations?

And. To.: Certainly. With the former children and teenagers who became adults, I maintain the friendly relations. At my communication with them there is a teaching element, but I try to overcome it. With parents of these children I kept friendship, we meet, we celebrate any events, holidays, we know that at whom occurs in families. I know about dates of weddings and the births of children at the former wards. I am on friendly terms and with the majority of experts with which I worked for these 20 years.

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