Issue 01. Transitory Parerga: Access and Inclusion in Contemporary Art

Issue 01. Transitory Parerga: Access and Inclusion in Contemporary Art

Issue 01 (autumn 2020)


Edited by Vlad Strukov (University of Leeds), in consultation with Alexandra Philippovskaya (Garage Museum of Contemporary Art)


The discussion of access and inclusion in contemporary art is both topical and integral to Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, one of the backers of The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums & Culture (The Garage Journal, hereafter). Founded in 2019, The Garage Journal is an independent interdisciplinary platform that advances critical discussions about contemporary art, culture, and museum practice in the Russian and global contexts. It publishes empirical, theoretical, and speculative research in a variety of genres, celebrating innovative ways of presentation. Fully peer-reviewed and available in open access, it provides a source book of ideas for an international audience. The journal’s website was launched in May 2020, with the first issue planned for autumn 2020. 


Finding an approach to the problem of access and inclusion that would bypass an inside/outside, included/excluded dichotomy is the challenge we raise with this issue of The Garage Journal. Art in itself does not include or exclude. Contemporary art is often characterized by a lack of uniformity, an eclecticism that is reflective and responsive to changing ideologies, cultural diversity, and technological advancement. Defining it as an entity is only as transitory as identifying what influences it from what might seemingly be perceived as an outside. 


As a productive framework to reconsider access and inclusion in the arts, we suggest rethinking Derrida’s concept of parergon, first introduced in The Truth in Painting (1978). Derrida discusses the parergon as coming ‘against, beside, and in addition to the ergon, the work done [fait], the fact [le fait], the work, but it does not fall to one side, it touches and cooperates within the operation, from a certain outside. Neither simply outside nor simply inside’. The function of the parergon is thus to create a framework that re-contextualizes what is being framed.


Institutions (museums, art colleges), ideologies (value systems, canon), architecture (buildings, urban planning), curatorial paraphernalia (interpretation, frames, plinths) frame contemporary art. They include and exclude, give and withhold access by centralizing contemporary art in Eurocentric urban areas, by creating unpaid or poorly paid employment opportunities, and by catering mostly to non-diverse audiences. By looking at these entities that frame contemporary art, point to its significance, signal its value and move in and out of the transitory focus of art itself, we have a framework that allows us to discuss art and its boundaries without limiting our investigation of access and inclusion to intrinsic qualities of art. 


There is of course some value to the identification of variables that might alienate and welcome various individuals or communities. Some of the most cited issues are often lumped under cultural, economic, intellectual and/or physical barriers, perceived or actual. Unless this exercise is used to remove obstacles to engagement and participation, it can quickly become a mere snapshot of a time and place in the history of art. More conducive to an analysis of access and inclusion that is not as limited in time and reach is a conception of the art world as a moveable, permeable locus of attention and production, the center of which moves with external and internal factors that give shape to its periphery.


The issue was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite contributions that include but are not limited to:


• Access requirements in art institutions

• Diversity of labor (or lack thereof) in the art sector

• Limiting/enabling function of art education

• Gender and representation in contemporary art

• Race and representation in contemporary art

• Nationality and/or ethnicity in contemporary art

• Health and representation in contemporary art

• Socio-economic variables and representation in contemporary art

• Interpretation, language, and the semantics of access

• Critical discussion of the function of interpretation in art institutions

• Political implications of access to culture/art agenda

• Disability and access to contemporary art

• User-design and accessibility in exhibition design

• Outsider art


We invite contributions in English, Russian or German in the form of articles, visual essays, data essays, interviews, and archival materials. The Garage Journal does not publish unsolicited artworks. 


To submit a proposal, please provide the following information in English:


• Contribution type (e.g., article, visual essay, data essay, interview, etc.)

• Language of contribution (English, German or Russian)

• Title of contribution

• Abstract (300 words)

• Key words that indicate the focus of the contribution (e.g., access, diversity, education, museums, market, labor, curating, architecture, urban planning, user design, audiences, disability, gender, etc.)

• Biographical information: including a short biographical statement of maximum 100 words stating research interests and relevant professional experience, and a list of no more than 10 publications relevant to the themes of the special issue


Proposals for contributions are due on June 1, 2020. Send all the information requested above—as a single PDF document—to