On 4 May, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, hosted the conference “In the Face of Natural Disasters, War, and Pandemics: What is the Therapeutic Potential of Art?”
The conference “In the Face of Natural Disasters, War, and Pandemics: What is the Therapeutic Potential of Art?” at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, prompted a constructive dialogue, exchange of experience and further cooperation between institutions and scientists, which will contribute to the development of ongoing and future projects and initiatives to be implemented in Ukraine and worldwide.
Yoann Gourmel, a French writer and art critic, lecturer and curator at Palais de Tokyo, shared his experience on making mediation spaces inclusive through art. He covered what it means to be engaged in cultural mediation, how to find ways for engaging adult guests and children, and provide analytical work on issues to make the space available for people with disabilities. As he uncovered the ambitious plan, the mediation started in performance halls, and sometimes in hospitals, and in autumn, they will open a separate space for research in practice within the walls of the Palais de Tokyo. Laurence Raineau, a socio-anthropologist with a doctorate in economics, conducting research in sociology at Cetcopra (Centre d'Étude des Techniques, des Connaissances et des Pratiques) at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, referred to prominent artists, such as Olafur Eliasson and Marina Abramovic, who use art as a means of transforming the world and making a difference. Victor Sydorenko, the President of the National Academy of Art of Ukraine, and an artist himself, spoke about the challenges that Ukraine and the world had to face and the new mission of art as a tool for overcoming psychological trauma, as well as the creative freedom that is the root of art's therapeutic potential. The speech of Natalia Shpytkovska, a representative of the Art Support Fund, Director of the M17 Contemporary Art Centre, DPhil in Cultural Studies, Advisor to the President of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, art consultant, art manager, curator and researcher, was focused on the role of art and the contribution of artists and the cultural sector to the victory of Ukraine.
Yana Barinova and Olga Kisseleva, an artist, and a member of the High Scientific Committee of Sorbonne, mentioned the project in Babi Yar and the art of researching trees as witnesses to Nazi terror. Yana Barinova, a Sorbonne University graduate with a PhD in Arts and Sciences, talked about implemented and upcoming projects in her current role at the ERSTE Foundation for European Policy and Relations with Ukraine. Marie-Laure Desjardins, a journalist and art critic, a PhD in Arts, an associate researcher at the MICA, University of Bordeaux Montaigne Research Department, and also at the ACTE Institute, Paris І Pantheon-Sorbonne, provided results of her research and polls on the importance of art and how it can change the world for the better, and presented the book “How Art Can Fix the World?”. Taisiya Savchuk-Polishchuk, the President of the Aleksandr Savchuk Foundation and honorary patron and ambassador of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, philanthropist for culture, healthcare and environment, and Svitlana Meteleva, a journalist and psychologist, presented a book on art therapy for children, and shared the success and affirmative impact of this publication among children with disabilities and war victims. Oleksandra Khalepa, an architect, art researcher, founder of Carbon Art Residency and curator of the Carbon Community, spoke about the projects of the Carbon and her own experience of collaboration with Villa Arson. Christelle Abou Jawdeh, PhD from the Sorbonne University of Paris, co-founder of Alamna, presented evidence and statistics on how artistic practices have affected people during disasters: earthquakes in Sri Lanka and China, conflicts in Lebanon, Vietnam, and other countries throughout history. Nata Katerynenko, editor at the NGO Art Initiative for Temporary Unification of Values, organiser of the project "Artist. Rehabilitation Space" project, an artistic and psychotherapeutic rehabilitation programme for ATO/JFO veterans and former prisoners of the so-called DPR/LPR, and Yuliya Medynska, a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst at the Lviv Psychoanalytic Institute of Mental Health, joined the conference remotely, presenting a video presentation of the Rehabilitation: Art Therapy project. The conference sowed the seeds of new views on the functionality of art, revealed the versatility of the scientific approach to the cultural component and provided fertile ground for further cooperation in science and rehabilitation projects.