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IncontrArti - Art for Intercultural integration

Type of tool: 
Energizer - Icebreaker
Duration: 
90-120 min
Topics addressed: 
Intercultural learning
Migrants
Social inclusion
The project IncontrArti is an educational project about interculturality. Its aim is to favour integration among children coming from different cultures, through art potentialities.
Aim: 

To promote integration among people coming from different countries through art potentialities and through creative action. Sensitise to cultural diversity and elaborate a relativistic approach to our political, social and cultural beliefs.

Methodology: 

If we consider a method as a “stable complex of ways to act, behave, interact, situate and intervene in different contingencies of educative theory and praxis” (R.Massa, 1991. Personal Translation) we recognize in the following points the keystones of IncontrArti project:-      Multimedia Apprach: the concept of multimedia jumped into our reality more then 20 years ago, i.e. when lots of different ways of communication started to be available, especially with Internet. Hovewer, multimedia can easily refers to an educative approach which promotes the research and the use of communicative and expressive tools, different from ordinariness. First of all, it is important to realize the necessity to develop a more organic knowledge of our world, eradicating the primacy of eyes in favor of other senses. Multimedia become polisensory, in the research of a total and complete perception, especially through the touch and the hearing, but even through emotions. Sinaesthesia, phenomenon that we often know only in his poetic meaning, in this context means cooperative unions of senses which riverberate our perception. But a knowledge which end in itself is useless: it is important to share. Being the project IncontrArti a proposal for intercultural education which pretend to work in groups mixed for cultures, the first problem to be faced is the linguistic barriers. There is the necessity to search for other way to communicate, alternative to verbal one. In light of this, the visual language become foundamental: we receive daily lots of images often being passive bystanders, but visual communication, in addition to be immediate and easily decoded, is especially usable by everyone, not being connected with any specific culture. It is an universal language, that with gesture, musics, dramas represents a valid tool to build bridges between cultures and to create occasions of vital and interactive contacts among people different for culture. Concretely, topics discussed by IncontrArti could be various and often not directly connected with interculture. They are presented by different materials: books, leporellos, maps, movies, musics, artworks, photos, in order to underline the specific power of each tools.- Provocation, estrangement and fracture of preconceived knowledge: if we really want to go deeper into reality and to look at it from a different perspective, if we really want to modify our mental assumptions about the “different” we must start from our identity.To consider our social, political and cultural beliefs the only valuable and correct means not being able to admit that different societies could have develop different constructions. For this reason, IncontrArti will offer different and unusual interpretations of everyday life and divergent points of view about realities considered as obvious.This lead to techniques of perception which allow to think in a lateral (E.De Bono) and divergent (J. Guilfor) way, to develop alternative solutions to solve a problem or to go beyond an obstacle.It is particularly important if we consider the complexity of the world where we live and the enormity of moral and practical questions raised about the interculturality. It is necessary to find new roads and it is possible only accepting to be shaken on our certainties.-      Risemantization: it seams to be a difficult word, but at the same time it is easily to give an example. It consists on the attribution of new meanings to objects and realities of the world where we live. It is what Picasso, Duchamp, Ray and in general the Dadaism did. They found some objects retained interesting and they gave a new interpretation, let it become something else. So that the bicycle seat became a bull’s head, an urinal a fountains. Reality is so full of stiuli and ideas: it is just necessary to find the correct aptitude to discover the unsual, the new, the alternative and to convert this “found object” in an original ready-made. -      Research of variation and analogies:: partially connected with the risematization process, it consists on “changing systematically the features which normally define an object, a figure or a reality” (M.Nocchi Croccolo), in order to test the limit of its identity conservation. It is a kind of elasticity proof: discover how many types can exist of the same reality. This was one of the favorite activity of Bruno Munari, who invited children to experiment different ways to mark a line, to draw a face, to print a track. It is possible to search the variation of colours, of dimension, of shape. In this project, variation means not only search for the difference, but produce and promote it. A starting point for the valorization of cultures and identities which moreover lead to recognize the analogies and the costants of our being all equally humans. The keystones overlisted converge is a cross process of IncontrArti: the creativity, considered as “the ability to produce something new” (L.S.Vygotskij. Personal Translation) and to "have original ideas which have value" (K.Robinson). Often we think not to be creative and that only artists or genius are creative. Actually, creativity is a mental rule, which allow to structure the information we receive.We have just to recover it and to act in a conscious, real and active creative way, because as D.Fabbri e A.Munari said “creativity is intelligence” and “a creative child is an happy child” (B.Munari).  

Step by step process: 

IncontrArti uses to have this structure:-      Presentation of topic: as we said before, subjects can be different, from identities to places, from journeys to colours, from emotions to fairy tales. Using the methodology shown earlier, every theme can be disclosed in an intercultural perspective, using visual language, multimedia, polisensory in order to search and promote the cultural diversity. The topic is presented by different materials through an interactive and participative way. We believe in the importance of informal learning, of knowledge by chance as in the serendipity process, of errors converted into new stimuli as in Gianni Rodari works. Everyone can participate has he/she can, in order to build a “group knowledge”.-      Artistic and creative laboratory: the laboratory is the sacral space in which experiment first hand the topic disclosed. Some different activities are arranged: any artistic/manual requirements are requested.We will work with different materials to realize a project that can be individual or of group.The activity is aimed to reflect on the shown topic, but is especially an occasion to express ourselves in a context of intercultural sharing.It is the space to rediscover our creative part, to experiment different languages, to play with various materials, to get involved first hand in our learning processes. Considering his intercultural nature, the laboratory wants to sensitize about the importance of putting knowledge, stimuli, curiosities in common and share with others. We want to valorize the value of every cultural, artistical and symbolic heritage, in order to search new points of contact, to work together in order to reach the same goal, to eradicate preconceived ideas and prejudices. It is necessary to valorize cultures, in order to avoid the risk that if in one side we build bridges, in the other we weaken the identities.In this kind of laboratory, everyone can express himself in a not valued activity, where everyone move from the same possibilities.For us it is not important the result of the laboratory, the beauty or the precision of the artifact, but the process done to obtain it: we hope that participants can learn a behavior replicable in different contexts.-      Exposition of artifacts and reflection: it is important to reflect about the activity done, even sharing with others. Confrontation allows us to valorize and interpret from a different point of view our product and to share ideas, stimuli, wills. We can discover and focus on aspects that we did not consider before. 

Materials and resources: 

It depends on the typology of laboratory, but the following are the basic materials:-      Different kind of paper.-      Glues.-      Scissors.-      Pastels.-      Sheets.

Outcomes: 

Referring to previous experience of IncontrArti project, first of all we wish that participants can understand the importance to look critically to the basic principles of our everyday life, in order to develop a new point of view on the reality. Deconstructing and demolishing or certainties could appear as dangerous, as well as counterproductive, but we must accept to be "shaken" in order to come to another perspective. It is a kind of price that has to be paid to acquire more awareness of our world and to get free from prejudices. We wish that participants will become aware that alternative and various codes, languages, alphabets, different from the ones learnt at school, can be used to express ourselves. Independently from the topic disclosed in the meetings, we believe in the power of the story-making as a skill to build a story starting from various stimuli put in common. The eredity that we want to consign to partiipants is a lace, part of a bond aimed at building bridges between cultures. 

Evaluation: 

 The advantage of this kind of project consists on the fact that everyone can get involved, not being necessary any kind of requirements.We address to mental and cultural resources which are very basic and simple, somehow innate or acquired by education since early childhood. Topics disclosed are basilar – especially because set for children – so that it is not necessary to be informed on this topic or subject to take part at the laboratory.Even materials are very habitual, therefore we exclude the possibility that someone can feel not properly confident.Among the potentialities there is the fact that we address to different tools of knowledge and communication, among which everyone can find the one that fit better for himself.The previous experimentations of the project underlined the aggregative nature of art and the natural tendency of participants to share, confront and work together.Being IncontrArti an initiative set in order to favor the integration among children of different cultures, it is possible that some adults show resistance or unsuitableness on being involved in activities that can seem to much puerile. However, we think that our laboratory can be stimulating for everyone that has the good disposition to get something new and useful.

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