Junhui:

We're talking about the Deaf Museum project and I'm Interviewing Miriam Grottanelli from Italy.

Your exhibition, when you planned it, did your plans remain the same or did you have to change your plans?

Miriam:

Hello Junhui,  and thank you and thank you for the question.

I'll quickly say who I am. My name is Miriam my sign name is this and I am the Director of the Siena School in Italy, in Siena. To come to your question. So what did we plan for our exhibition?

We are working, we're going to be working within the Pendola Institute, which is the old residential School for the Deaf in Siena. Now closed, operational until the 80s. Because the story of that Institute has mostly been told by hearing people, we decided that it would be very important to use this opportunity for that story to be told by the Deaf community.

We have given this task to a number of Deaf artists who are a mixture of poets and storytellers and actors. Basically we have asked them to come to Siena, because they come from all different parts of Italy, and immerse themselves in the history of the Institute. So more than a change in plans, this is how the plans have evolved.

We started knowing that we would do something about the Institute and then we gradually decided that we wanted to involve artists. We have now invited them to Siena.

The time that they will spend in Siena will be dedicated to exploring the spaces of the Institute, interviewing former students from the Institute and also investigating the photographic archive that the Institute has. Many many photographs of what the life of the students was like. 

Out of those explorations, these artists will produce their own interpretation of the memories of the Institute. And that will be the core of the exhibition.

Junhui:

Oh, that's really interesting.

Who is the target audience, who you would like to come and see the exhibition?

Miriam:

Yes, of course, a very good question.

So the way that we came about how to organize and who to involve in the exhibition was that, right from the beginning, we started collaborating with the president of the National Association for the Deaf here in Siena. So with their local branch and they are very supportive. They love the idea of using Deaf artists within this exhibition.

So of course, our first target audience is the Deaf community. The local Deaf community, but I would say the national Deaf community too, because this Institute was famous nationally. And also at a European level.

That is our primary audience. But of course together with our primary audience, we very much want to invite - within the space of the institute, to enjoy the exhibition -

anybody who is interested in what we are talking about, from all kinds of point of views.

So the residents of our city, anybody who had any involvement with the Institute, people that are involved with sign language and Deaf Heritage at the moment, so ‚Äčteachers of sign language, learners of sign language, people from the university and then of course anybody who thinks this is an interesting topic and wants to learn more.

Junhui:

Oh, good!

Have you had discussions and collaborations did you say, with people outside of your organization, so the Deaf community perhaps? And if so, what shape  did those conversations take?

Miriam:

Yes, every single step that we have taken so far has been taken together, mostly in conversation with the president of the local branch of the ENS, the National Association of the Deaf. His name is Paolo.

Most of the conversations that we've had with the artists, we have also conducted with him. In fact, it was his idea that we invite the artist to Siena and organize for them a series of visits and meetings so that they can truly immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the Institute.

Junhui:

Oh very good! Thank you!

Tell me, what has been the challenges, if any, in the planning of this?

Miriam:

Yes, good question, because we had not thought about this at the beginning you know, this is a work in progress. So it's very interesting to discuss it right now.

I think after our discussions with the artists, the main issue is a curatorial one. We have a big space in the Institute and probably we will have between two and four artists working in the space.

So this poses the question: where should we place our artists? Which are the best locations that will give most visibility to their work, to their performances. This is one issue.

And then the second issue that has to do with curatorship and how we curate the whole design of the of the exhibition is  - it sounds very simple but it needs a lot of thinking - where shall we let the audience in from? And how will we direct the audience through the spaces? You know, which space do we want them to visit first and last, and what kind of signage will we choose to facilitate exactly that journey through the space?

So this I think is a very important challenge that has to be discussed with the artists and with our Deaf colleagues in Siena, in a co-design perspective.

It is something that has to be decided together because it's an important part of the exhibition and has to be rewarding and agreed upon by everybody. Rewarding for everybody, agreed upon by everybody.

Junhui:

Oh, good! That's really interesting and I look forward to being able to see your exhibition sometimes in the future!

Will you be providing International Sign, when it is completed?

Miriam:

Well that is also up for discussion. We want to provide the most amount of accessibility as possible, so we will certainly do our best. I think this is another very important challenge that needs to be discussed, not simply for our exhibition but within our partnership when we discuss everybody's exhibition, because of course that depends on the target audience that we want to bring in. But of course it also depends on the amount of funding that one is able to find, in order to provide that accessibility.

So it's a very good question. For sure, our exhibition will focus on Italian sign language, but who knows, you know, depending on the budget, we may - that would of course be our hope - be able to provide an even wider kind of accessibility.

And you have to come and see it!

Junhui:

Oh absolutely, absolutely, yes yes! I'd love to go and see you.

Miriam:

Thank you, Junhui.

Junhui:

Thank you too and thank you for your time and the conversation. And thank you to our international interpreter Eddie.

Miriam:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bye bye.

Miriam:

Bye bye, thank you

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