Two middle aged women run into each other by coincidence.
“Our exhibition has broken all the records!”
“Such great things have been written about us in the media!”
The conversation continues.
“Yeah, and it’s nice to talk to people there. They’re interested in and excited about our show!”
These people are clearly talking about positive experiences with art, and about showing art publicly in some art establishment. Maybe not the most common conversation on the street: after all, it includes positivity, excitement, and good experiences. And culture.
As clearly as the conversation is about positive experiences with art, it also includes an experience of participation. The speakers feel like they’re a part of cultural activity. If we look through various definitions of involvement, this conversation represents experiences of social involvement: a person feels like an important part of the whole. Involvement can also be defined as an experience of “the meaning of life and shared purpose being built by interacting with people, art, or nature. These meanings are stored in our thoughts, experiences, and memories as words, pictures, melodies, feelings, and perceptions.” There can be other definitions and descriptions of involvement that are actually only connected by a statement from researchers: Involvement can be defined very widely within different concepts and drawing a line between the concepts and definitions can sometimes be hard.
”It’s so nice to go to the museum when you feel useful.” An indisputable, authentic statement about the experience of involvement and participation. An experience that we often miss in our everyday lives, and one that doesn’t happen frequently. It probably doesn’t have to be defined any further. It feels good to be involved in something meaningful. You and I become us, their exhibition becomes our exhibition.
I was one of these speakers. And that show of ours that we so enthusiastically talked about, was an exhibition at the Finnish National Gallery, where we got to volunteer in making installation art and offering workshops – voluntarily dedicated.
The writer is currently studying volunteer leadership at the HUMAK University of Applied Sciences.
Translation: Satu Puolitaival