CAPOinGIRO, performance by Sergio Breviario curated by Z.E.A. Zone di Esplorazione Artistica for associazione alzhalarte, in the exhibition “Con straordinario trasporto”, Studio Museo Francesco Messina, Milano 2020

Strategy type (tool, event, training course, etc.)
Designing museum experiences for people with Alzheimer and their caregivers, in collaboration with artists and designers.

Scope of the practice (local, national, international level)
Local networking, partnerships and collaborations, are crucial for our project, e.g. the social services network devoted to dementia (Rete Alzheimer del Comune di Milano), in order to reach a constantly increasing number of families living with Alzheimer’s in our city. However, our aim is to link with other cultural organisations raising awareness about the need of similar practice spread in every institution, or collaborating with museums wherever in Italy. On a national level we invoke a supportive political will, to stress, among the priorities, that Italian population counts an always larger number of elderly, fragile, isolated who most of the time are living with dementia. Moreover, since the beginning of the project, we have been working with international artists, organizations and museums to exchange visions, modus operandi and inspiring collaborations on a larger scale.


When did it start/end?
2016 - ongoing

Organization and person of reference
Associazione alzhalarte

City and country
Milan, Italy

 

Ива Младенова

LUCI RIFLESSE, art experience curated by Z.E.A. Zone di Esplorazione Artistica for associazione alzhalarte, in Cerith Wyn Evans’s exhibition “…the Illuminanting Gas”, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milano 2020

1. Describe your project briefly
"alzhalarte" is the project started in 2016 by Michele Porcu and Mary Zurigo, (Z.E.A. Zone di Esplorazione Artistica, independent group for experimental projects and interdisciplinary research in the fields of arts, design and architecture), which is dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. "alzhalarte" includes people with dementia and their caregivers in art and design practices, focusing on their residual abilities and unexpressed individualities, through emotion and experience. It involves museums and the whole cultural system, by linking the various stakeholders: a large amount of time is invested in networking, advocacy and fundraising, or planning activities in cooperation with other cultural associations, charities and caregivers. Our organization "Associazione alzhalarte" was founded in 2017 to carry on, among the others, the homonymous project.

2. What is the aim of the project? 

The ultimate mission of "alzhalarte" is to strive against the social stigma associated with dementia, which is a cause of isolation, suffering and exacerbation of people ‘s health conditions. This may mean that people (included family members and caregivers) are represented by stereotype, discriminated against, treated separately because of their cognitive decline or even for their link with this disease, facing everyday a loss of status and self-esteem. In other words: our aim is to stimulate a collective commitment to wellbeing or “better being” and social inclusion.

3. Who was involved in designing process?

Artists, architects, designers, art mediators, museum directors, curators, psychologists, neuroscientists, charity organisations, caregivers, public social services network.


4. If you could change something, what would you change?
Our relationship with museums was not always easy: we hope that their business plans will devote in the future much more funds to public programmes and mediation. We also would like to find in museums adequate spaces (in term of: accessibility, size, light, architectural quality, location, furniture and equipment) dedicated to diverse type of public. On our side we should create new engaging strategies to stimulate and make museums more sensitive to the approach and the quality of programmes designed -beside ours- by a variety of small organisations which know very well their target public and can deliver tailor-made activities, bringing more diversity inside the cultural offer of institutions.


5. How do the project impact on civil society? 
Each of the experiences designed within the frame of this project proved to the cultural institutions (and to the general visitors at the same time) that people with dementia can walk around in a museum, can enjoy art with their family or caregivers, can feel emotions, which - despite being expressed with fragmented sentences – can add significance to the art exhibition itself. Our work also has been proving to caregiver with very different backgrounds that arts and culture can be a tool to become more resilient or to empower themselves and find a welcoming community.

 

6. How do you evaluate the project’s impact?
We collect participants' feedbacks and their requests for being invited to upcoming museum visits, and the feedbacks of other partner organisations too. We consider the increasing number of caregivers in our mailing list. From caregivers we also get suggestions about which exhibitions go to see together, as a proof of how engaged and proactive they have become.

7. Is there anything else would you like to share with us? 
associazione alzhalarte is funded by Fondazione Cariplo - iC3 Innovazione Culturale grant.