Artists and projects
Yaniv Janson
Please Do Touch

Please Do Touch is a project created to draw connections between mainstream communities and the disability communities. The project can do this through going against the norms of traditional society and encourages viewers to fully immerse themselves in the installation through touch, visuals and hearing each piece. I wanted to use the Please Do Touch project to give back to the community. I have done this through allowing viewers to touch my artworks rather than simply looking at them. This allows not only members of the mainstream community to enjoy the artworks, but it also allows those with disabilities i.e. individuals who are blind, to enjoy the installation through the ability to touch and hear the works.

I am on the autistic spectrum and live with epilepsy. I feel that this installation would be a meaningful contribution to community. Please Do Touch facilitates sensory art experiences for all audiences, including people with visual impairments and special sensory needs, such as people on the autistic spectrum like myself. I choose to challenge traditional art ‘rules’ by inviting the audience to touch the art and engaging with audiences that were traditionally excluded from the experience of art. Conversely, this demonstrates that the disability community is keen to participate in mainstream society – by experimenting with different experiences of art for all to try.

The idea behind Please Do Touch project is to address the major issues facing today’s world; social and environmental issues that are of concern to all. My work asks us to look at how people feel about their living conditions and what kind of options are realistically available to all people. This work aligns with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The Please Do Touch project is based around six of these goals; no poverty, clean water and sanitation, decent work conditions and economic growth, sustainable cities and communities, climate action and life below water.

For the[se] goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector and civil society. When it comes to humanity’s voice, Art and Activism go hand in hand – it’s called Art-ivism – and it concerns both you and me. I want to show the world that people with a disability are also passionate about working on the sustainable development goals and I chose to raise awareness around them through my art.

I want to take this installation all over the world to ensure that all countries and people alike are aware of these sustainability goals and the impact they can have on our society and communities.

In November 2016, the Please Do Touch project was listed on the United Nations website. This was an amazing opportunity as it is helping give Please Do Touch the exposure it needs to create a bigger impact.I have been invited to showcase Please Do Touch in Paris and Montenegro this year and hope to take my work over there to impact other societies and show how New Zealand is working to implement the sustainable goals.

The Objective and Impact
When I first began working on art pieces to communicate these sustainability goals, two years ago, I was originally interested in using my art to change attitudes in the education sector. I had many meetings with individuals from the community and their comments are all documented on the Please Do Touch blog. From these original meetings, I then began to adjust the focus of the project to instead challenge people to assess their environment and see how they can help contribute to society.

“[Yaniv’s work is] asking us to look at the how people feel about their living conditions and what kind of options are realistically available to all people to ensure that everyone has adequate housing. Yaniv’s art draws the viewer in through the use of vibrant colour and then while he has our attention, simultaneously addresses the social justice of inadequate housing and poverty.” Leafa Wilson – Waikato Museum Curator.

Please Do Touch allows viewers to draw artistic connections between people and social economy and dares to step outside of traditional “norms” to address social inequalities. My work draws inspiration from interactions with nature, family and friends and offers a commentary on societal issues using bold colours that always permeate deeper, hidden and meaningful messages for the audience. These installations depict how things will look if we action or don’t action these sustainable goals – the artwork is used to show both outcomes in to create community engagement.

My goal is that through this installation utilising three of our senses, it will aid peoples understanding and produce greater impact from my artworks. I wanted the impact of people viewing the installation to be great. I hope that the messages communicated in each individual painting, and the ability to touch the work also will provide an even greater impact and need for change and awareness to be brought about.
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