Focus Artistic Research

DEMEDARTS. Dementia.Empathy.Education.Arts.

Project lead: Ruth Mateus-Berr
Institute of Art Sciences and Art Education
Duration: 01.02.2020 - 31.01.2023
Austrian Science Fund (FWF): AR 609 Programm zur Entwicklung und Erschließung der Künste (PEEK)
Artistic Research on Patterns of Perception and Action in the Context of an Aging Society
125 million people worldwide live with dementia, 10 million in Europe alone. The number of people affected increases every three seconds and will have doubled by 2050. Personal and social challenges are the result. When tasks such grocery shopping, money transactions and travelling to unknown places become difficult and people with dementia withdraw from society for fear of rejection and embarrassment, it is not only those affected who need support, but above all society must be sensitized. DEMEDARTS, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) A-609 PEEK, addresses these challenges. DEMEDARTS is located at the Center for Didactics in Art and Interdisciplinary Teaching at the University of Applied Arts, in collaboration with national cooperation partners: mdw - University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna: W. Aigner for music education; University of Vienna: F. Kayali digitalization in schools; Alzheimer Austria: A. Croy, president of Alzheimer Austria; Haus der Barmherzigkeit: B. Hobl, psychiatry for the elderly; M.C. Gambal, Dep. Director of the nursing staff; Schulschiff: H.Schwarz, for education and international cooperation partners: S. McNiff (US), for artistic research and health, Cambridge; V.F. Gould (GB), President at Arts4Dementia; T. von Eca (PT), President of INSEA, society of art educators of the world; R. Smilde (NL), for Meaningful Music in Healthcare;
The team of researchers led by R. Mateus-Berr: W. Aigner, L. Al-Mousli, C. Carli, N. Gharanshir, L. Girotto, V. Gruber, S. Guserl, S. Muzler, J. Schaitl, P. Scharler consists of art & music & dance educators, artists, teachers, musicians, multimedial art therapists, authors, designers, performers is now developing the first art-based teaching concept to sensitize young people in schools and universities, since there is no school strategy for dementia education (through art). The questions of how art and design strategies can help secondary school students to develop more empathy for people with dementia and how artistic research can affect the cross-generational well-being of people with dementia are addressed. Following the principle of phenomenon based learning, artistic interventions to change the sensory perception of healthy people and the general society are being developed to empathetically raise social awareness of the situation of people with dementia. This will be achieved through art-based methods and collaboration between people with mild cognitive impairment, artists, people with moderate dementia, teachers, people without dementia, therapists, university and secondary students. DEMEDARTS comprises all arts and aims at the development and integration of empathic skills for dementia in schools in Austria, institutions and workshops for people living with dementia & relatives. Although it is not yet possible to medically completely cure dementia, art and design can help to improve the attitude towards and for people living with it.