Satisfying material and spiritual needs marks the eternal fight of the blind and partially sighted for a life worth living. That kind of life can only be enabled through education, work, and the acknowledgment of the community. Today, more than ever, we speak of the rights and abilities of the visually impaired. The collective awareness of the achievements of the blind man results from a long effort to encourage a positive attitude in the society through various forms of social activities. We are witnessing increasing equality of the blind in everyday life. Each of their appearances in public reminds us that they are people first and foremost, and people with a disability second.
This exhibition presents people who live passionately in spite of everyone and everything, enriching life with their artistic expression that we can all enjoy in. With their universal language of art, understandable to everyone, they teach us about themselves. They reach fulfillment through music, sculpting, acting… By seamlessly infiltrating our affective lives, they become part of our reality and contribute to our feeling of excitement while consuming art.
The SeeTheArt exhibition aims to present the public with blind and partially sighted Croatian artists and their literary, music, art, and scene works and to show the wealth and strength of their artistic expression. The idea of equality and the right to artistic creation we are spreading awareness among the public and promoting tolerance. In the year when the Croatian Association of the Blind is celebrating its 70th anniversary and to mark White Cane Day, the Typhlological Museum is gathering similar institutions that care and enrich the life of the visually impaired. The Museum is joined by the Croatian Association of the Blind, the Zagreb Association of the Blind, the Croatian Library for the Blind, and the Drama Studio of Blind and Visually Impaired Persons “New Life” in the joint project titled Exhibiting Blind Authors. To remind the public of the problems that we tackle and the rights, abilities, and talents of the visually impaired, we’ll offer the public a concert, a play, a literary evening, and an exhibition of blind and visually impaired artists.
ART OF THE BLIND...
Even though sight takes the central position in visual art, touch is crucial for the full experience of the texture since it allows us direct contact with objects around us. It is by touch that a blind person explores surrounding objects; tactile perception is vital in experiencing their features. Depending on the level of their impairment, blind and partially sighted people rely on touch, the most important factor in spatial perception besides hearing. Their sensitivity to tactile and auditory stimuli is enhanced, which leads to more honed and precise perception. Touch is vital for the creation of artwork by a blind person since it allows for the formation of different features of a surface.
Self-taught blind sculptors work from a spontaneous creative impulse, regardless of their impairment, with materials that suit them best. With the help of their palms and fingers, they create authentic visions of reality.
Hearing is the primary sense of experience for the blind and visually impaired, making them particularly close to music. During their education, special care is devoted to music. Musical abilities of blind and visually impaired children should be discovered and developed as early as possible so they could be actively involved in music, be it professionally or non-professionally, since it enables better social integration.
Braille music notation for the blind was developed by Louis Braille in 1829. As opposed to standard notation, Braille devised a one-line notation, which means that the pitch, duration, color and all other symbols are marked in a single line. Seven letters of the alphabet mark the seven notes of the music alphabet. It is read by touch, that is, by moving fingers left to right on paper. The musician must first read the notes, remember them, and then play.
Thanks to Braille music notation, many blind people have acquired outstanding musical training, which enabled them to pursue professions in music.
Theater of the Blind and Visually Impaired New Life
The first performance of the New Life drama studio of the blind and visually impaired, as the ensemble of the Central Committee of the Croatian Association of the Blind, took place in the Samobor Cultural Center on 21 March, 1948. The ensemble performed the play “Mother” by Mile Klopčić, directed by Vladimir Jagarić. Numerous performances ensued afterwards that aimed to show people across the country that the blind are active on the stage as well.
From its beginnings until today, many amateur actors, directors, scenographers, and other associates have worked with the New Life drama studio. They have performed works by Miroslav Krleža, Branislav Nušić, Fadil Hadžić, Ivan Goran Kovačić, Jaroslav Hašek, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Luigi Pirandello, Moliere, and many other.
A great many shows at the New Life drama studio were directed by renowned directors: Tomislav Durbešić, Miro Marotti, Vjekoslav Vidošević, Mirko Merle, Dražen Grunwald, and others, which significantly raised the bar of the performances.
Until the beginning of the 1980s, the Zagreb ensemble of blind actors was the only of its kind in Europe; it wasn’t until the 1990s that theatre troupes began to perform in other countries. In 1999, the New Life drama studio organized the first festival of theatres of the blind and visually impaired titled BIT – Blind in Theatre, which has since become a global festival, the only festival of this kind in the world.
Through their many years of work, blind theatre workers have received prominent awards, one of which is the 2004 SKAZ award for first place for the performance of “Vane” by Radovan Ivšić, directed by Mario Kovač. In 2003, the director of the drama studio, Vojin Perić, was awarded as best male actor in “Oedipus” at the same festival.
The work of this amateur theatre of the blind, their sacrifice, perfect concentration, and the unity of thought and movement prove that impairment is no obstacle to successful artistic creation.
Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are vital form the visually impaired since language is the best medium for their expression. It is often the only means of communication, acquiring knowledge, and gathering useful information. Communication through speech and writing are the most common ways the visually impaired express their ideas and emotions and convey them to others. Literature (prose, poetry, drama) is thus the most available and most common mode of their artistic expression.
The blind and those with significant impairment cannot see letters, but they can sense small relief dots under their fingers which take them into the world of the written word. Touch is, therefore, a crucial means of written communication for the blind. The use of Braille today is a prerequisite for the literacy of the blind, and the invention of that alphabet is still one of the biggest developments that have enabled the blind to integrate in the society, work environments, and the world of culture.