Telegram as platform for online mediation

Picture: Jan Andrzej Sobel

Can art mediation take place on social media or even in the messaging app like Telegram?


Our art mediator Iva Matyas proved it possible! During May and June 2022, she hosted experimental art mediation sessions called “Way home”. The mediation was built around Sanni Saarinen’s exhibition Kytköksissä/Connected that deals with the notion of home, identity, and experiences of Russian-speaking people living in Finland.


A concept for art mediation in Telegram came from an idea of looking beyond existing methods of online communication. As Iva recalls, “In the moment of creating mediation, I lived in the Netherlands. My relocation forced me to think of new ways to make mediation happen online. At the same time, I was driven by a need for an experiment to provide a new online experience beyond commonly used methods of interaction. In the last two years, I participated in a countless number of online meetings, gatherings, and discussions. Every time I find a format tiring and overwhelming. You need to sit still perfectly still, waiting for your turn to speak. All interaction seems flat and unnecessary formal, somehow totally lacking space for individual freedom of participating in the meeting. “Way Home” tries to break up this formality by giving an opportunity to slow down, think, and decide what you want to say in a way that suits you and your needs best. ”


The advantage of using Telegram as a platform for mediation is a diversity of tools that help people to express themselves both verbal and non-verbal: abstract stickers, drawings, emojis, photos, video, audio, and written messages.


Given Iva’s theatrical background, it was natural for her to add the elements of play and performance to the mediation. The most challenging thing for Iva in the preparation process was a creation of dramaturgy for the mediation session and deciding on the order in which interactive mediation elements come to play. Making sure the pace of the mediation is comfortable for participants was extremely important.

Having hosted several art mediations, Iva has received a lot of positive feedback from participants. Here are some of their comments:

Choosing Telegram instead of Zoom – the best decision ever! It turned out thousand times more interactive. I felt a much stronger connection with the participants, and it was easier to approach and communicate with them.

The mediation was moderately dynamic: leaving room for thought while fuelling constant curiosity about what will happen next. There was a place for everything – to express oneself, to comment, to support others.

Simple and short rules provided at the beginning of mediation were great. They helped to create a relaxed atmosphere and a low participation threshold. They made the session inclusive and everyone got an opportunity to be themselves, participate in accordance with their capabilities, choose the speed they are comfortable with, and the degree of involvement and interaction.