Table Presentations of Projects
The Table Presentations on Thursday, 27th of February at 14.15 provide an opportunity for informal project presentations and networking. Nineteen artists, organizers of art initiatives, or representatives of organisations are invited to set up presentations of their work on separate tables (with images and documentary material). Conference participants can “browse” through these presentations and “book” time at specific tables (the booking is organised by the conference team), in order to sit with a specific artist/organizer for a limited time slot of 30 minutes. During these 30 minutes, individual discussions can take place and specific questions can be asked. Afterwards the participants will switch to the next presenters they have signed up for, or they can go on to look at the other tables with informational material. There will be three such time slots for face-to-face meetings.
- Diana Berg: TU Art-platform, Mariupol, Ukraine
The cultural Platform TU is a queer art-space in Mariupol, a city, where it is dangerous to say the term “queer”. It was opened in 2016 in Mariupol, Ukraine, by refugees from Donetsk and local activists. After the military invasion to Ukraine and the occupation of Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea, activists who were pursued by the occupant government in Donetsk, relocated to Mariupol, 15 km from the frontline, and started a new life. In the midst of a very conservative and paternalistic community, they came up with the crazy idea to team up with local activists and open a space for developing a progressive culture.
The mission of the organization is the promotion of human rights and freedoms through an inclusive culture and modern arts, and develop critical thinking and tolerance in Ukrainian society. Platform TU has become the only independent art-space in Eastern Ukraine, where underground culture, innovative ideas, human rights and freedoms, are dominant values. Artistic and creative activities have gathered a loyal community in TU, and it is now a safe space for many vulnerable and discriminated groups, aiming to develop peace and dialogue in the crisis region through arts and culture. Since Mariupol is near to the military frontline, progressive initiatives of Platform TU oftentimes meet the disapproval of ultra-right nationalists. Still, regardless of hate speech and fascist graffiti, broken windows and shooting, harsh attacks of teenage concert and public actions the activists of TU keep fighting discrimination, stereotypes, and inequality, believing that Ukraine has only one way towards democratic, free, diverse and tolerant future. Their motto is: “Everything that works for developing culture works against the war.”
- Marcel Bleuler: off/line Artist-residence, Zemo Nikozi, Georgia
The off/line project was initiated by artasfoundation in 2015 in Zemo Nikozi, a small Georgian village located right next to the demarcation line to South-Ossetia, and has been managed by Marcel Bleuler together with the Georgian curator Lali Pertenava since 2016. The main idea of the project is to create an open framework for encounters and exchange between the villagers and artists from Europe as well as artists from Georgia. Every year, 24 artists are invited to engage with the village and its residents over the course of a 15-day project phase. The artists live with local host families and have daily meetings to discuss their findings and experiences. Each year, the project concludes with a public event in which the artistic projects are presented and discussed with the people living in the village. Marcel Bleuler will present some insights into the outcomes of this project, and into the relationship dynamics that have surfaced over the last five years.
- Adi Blum and Firas Shamsan: International Network of Cities of Refuge (ICORN), Bern, Switzerland
In 2015, the Swiss German PEN Centre (DSPZ) established a Writers in Exile Program. This program became part of the International Network of Cities of Refuge (ICORN), which coordinates the activities of over 60 cities and regions which offer temporary refuge to authors and journalists, who are persecuted in their home countries. The DSPZ has been running a pilot project in Lucerne for two years. In 2018, the City of Bern decided to join the ICORN network. By doing so the city of Bern became Switzerland’s first “refuge city”. Arriving in 2019 from Yemen, Firas Shamsan is the first scholarship holder of Swiss German PEN’s Writers in Exile Program.
- Asida Butba: SKLAD Cultural Space in Sukhum/i
SKLAD, the first contemporary-art-initiative in Abkhazia, was started in 2015 by a few volunteers. Abkhazia is a small subtropical paradise at the Black Sea coast with mountains, caves and waterfalls. The land of tasty food and hospitable people, it was the most prestigious holiday destination among celebrities and the political elite of the USSR. After its collapse and an armed conflict, Abkhazia became a disputed territory on the geopolitical crack between East and West. While still being seen as part of Georgia by most countries except Russia and a few allies, it declared itself independent and is now struggling to become a proper state in the challenging context of post-war trauma, international isolation, outdated infrastructure and scarce population. The cultural output of Abkhazia until very recently had suffered drastic reduction. In the state of an unresolved conflict art naturally shifts into the nation-building domain with its folklore and historical reconstructions as well as into escapist aesthetics. Under these complex circumstances it is the intention of the organizers of SKLAD to foster otherwise scarce international exchange, cultural and civic dialogue and reaching out to new contexts previously unavailable in the region.
- Cynthia Cohen and Dijana Milosevic: The Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT)
IMPACT is an initiative of the Programme in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University, Juniata College and Maseno University in Western Kenya. This values-driven world-wide network of practitioners, researchers, funders and policy-makers is envisioning and beginning to implement structures aimed at strengthening what it calls the arts, culture and conflict transformation ecosystem (acct). It is organised around a web of teams working on tools for ethical practice, advocating for the field, virtual learning exchanges, and a network of regional hubs in the global north and south.
- Daniel Gad: Arts /Rights/Justice Program at the UNESCO Chair Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development, Hildesheim
How to increase the capacities of the artistic freedom sector and strengthen its ability to foster change? It is important that artistic creation and the role of artists are considered alongside human rights and freedoms in society. To this end, the Arts Rights Justice Program (ARJ) seeks to convey and professionalize skills, ensure the exchange of knowledge, make the most of multiplier effects and build expertise on the subject. The aim of the ARJ Program is to strengthen and expand structures for the promotion and protection of artistic freedom. The program was developed in cooperation with 30 international expert institutions. It encompasses a regular academy at Hildesheim Kulturcampus, Germany, a series of satellite workshops (ARJ Laboratories) in partner regions, and an open access online library. The ARJ Program is part of the research and training activities of the Hildesheim UNESCO Chair.
- Regula Gattiker: Open History – Arts for Peace Project in Myanmar
Myanmar is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Since independence, the country has experienced a complex set of conflicts that represent a significant challenge on the way towards peace, development and democracy. Political space is still very limited and mistrust is widespread. In their Open History – Arts for Peace project, HELVETAS Myanmar and the local partner organization Pansodan focus on (re)building trust between people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
The three-year project creates room for dialogue to strengthen identities, exchange different views and therefore promote peaceful coexistence. At the heart of this project are so-called Open History exhibitions in eight different regions of the country in which women, men and young people from different ethnic and social backgrounds can share their stories with each other.
For more info see:
- Hermona Abraham Brahmi and Letizia Mantoan: Drosos: Live-skill Development Through Creativity in Jordan and Lebanon
Building on the conviction that performing arts and creativity enable children and youth to develop essential life skills, Drosos Foundation has been supporting local NGOs across Jordan and Lebanon, mainly in marginalized communities, to develop spaces, skills and opportunities that allow children and youth to experience various forms of art and culture and express themselves creatively.
Experience working in this region has shown that a lot of knowledge and know-how exist but are not sufficiently being capitalized, promoted nor supported. Long term institutional development through capacity building and organizational support are lacking; targeted and tailored interventions are missing; synergies and opportunities for collaboration, peer to peer learning and exchange are limited. Following an approach that builds on the strength of partner organisations and believes in a partnership model where both parties share accountability and responsibility, Drosos Foundation will present examples of how project partners have evolved in time, and share successful interventions focusing on exchange & mobility, knowledge creation and mentorship.
- Heba Hage-Felder and Lisa Magnollay: SDC North Africa Cultural Program
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) was entrusted by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to implement a North Africa Cultural Program to further strengthen dialogue, solidarity, and empower creative expression as a vehicle for positive change. Since 2007, AFAC has been a catalyst for artistic and cultural production in North Africa and the wider Arab region. Through grants and professional services, AFAC is the leading regional resource and continuously supports individual artists and cultural institutions in visual arts, performing arts, cinema, music, training and regional events, documentary film, documentary photography, creative and critical writings, research on the arts, and arts and cultural entrepreneurship. AFAC strengthens the sector’s infrastructure through long-term support to cultural entities. It builds and shares knowledge through focused programs and diverse communication tools that benefit wider communities and it connects Arab communities with their diasporas.
- Basma El Husseiny: The Work of Action for Hope
Action for Hope was founded in Beirut, Lebanon, 2015 to provide cultural development and cultural relief programs that meet the cultural, social, and psychological needs of distressed, marginalized, and displaced communities. Action for Hope believes in the role of Arts and Culture in empowering individuals and communities, particularly those in distress. We provide people with access to culture and tools for creative expression to enrich their lives, increase the cultural capital of communities around them, and enable their contribution to our shared humanity.
Action for Hope has a vision of a just and tolerant world, where communities risking social fragmentation because of war, displacement, and extreme poverty use creativity to face and surmount their difficult circumstances. It is our goal, among others, to integrate cultural activities into communities that undergo displacement and/or marginalization; to provide artistically talented young people, children and women living in displaced and/or marginalized communities with the skills, knowledge and tools needed to communicate and document their stories, express themselves freely and creatively, and work professionally in the arts; and to lead and stimulate discussions and collaborations among key civil society organizations involved in addressing the challenges that displaced and marginalized communities are facing, and advocate the role the arts could play in addressing these challenges.
- Anina Jendreyko: Jin Jiyan – A Theater Project with Yezidi Women from Shengal, North Iraq
Jin Jiyan – the rising is a theatre project by, with and about women in Shengal/North Iraq, a play about the self-empowerment and the power of the Yezidi women.
Since liberation from the IS, the population in Shengal has been trying to build up an independent grassroots democratic model of society. The focus is on the Yezidi women, they are the motor of socio-political changes. This is not an easy undertaking, but one that inspires incredible courage and hope. Based on intensive research in Shengal and in close cooperation with the Yezidi women, we have developed a play about this process because we are convinced that cultural work can build bridges. With our work we try to break through the discrepancy: on the one hand the democratic process that has to be built up locally and on the other hand the ignorance of the western countries towards one of the few democratic processes taking place in the Arab region. We are not only talking about women as victims and desecrators of war, but about their self-empowerment. We are talking about those who are committed to the reconstruction of the destroyed area, those who cannot be driven out, those who are committed to a perspective that includes all those living in Shengal on an equal footing and guarantees the right to exist and the protection of the Yezidi community on the ground. And we speak of us, looking for our own possibilities for action, because this here – in the north and west of the world—is directly connected with the destruction or the possibility of a democratic and peaceful life in the war-torn Middle East.
- Artem Loskutov: Monstration Art Project, Russia
Every year since 2004, a Monstration has been taking place in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, with participants carrying absurd slogans around. Founded by the artist group CAT (Contemporary Art Terrorism), the Monstration was created as a parody of the communist May Day demonstrations, and the peaceful marches have since become popular throughout Russia. The state media often present the Monstration as a funny amusement and harmless youth carnival in the style of a zombie parade on Halloween. At the same time, the authorities suspect the Monstration of a covert political message, if not as an attempt to organize a colour revolution. Therefore they try to ban it, drive it out of the city centre and send security forces in full combat gear to the action, while the police try to remove the most suspicious posters. The organizer and co-initiator Artyom Loskutov regards the Monstration as a symptom of a deeply divided society in which there is no room for real political debate. The contradictory relationship to the Monstrations – ignoring them as apolitical and senseless phenomena, but at the same time treating them as politically subversive – reveals the unique nature of political expression in these marches.
- Sverre Pederson: Freemuse and The Global Action Network (GAN)
Freemuse is an independent international organisation advocating for and defending freedom of artistic expression. We use our thorough research and documentation of violations of artistic freedom to influence governments and decision-makers to change laws and practices that limit artistic expression. We work with international bodies – including the UN Human Rights Council, special procedures and special rapporteurs, UNESCO and EU institutions – to secure the right to artistic expression, as guaranteed by international human rights conventions, is respected, and to ensure that violations are monitored and violators are held accountable.
The protection and promotion of freedom of artistic expression is crucial not only to ensure that artists can express themselves freely through various artforms, but also for audiences to be able enjoy diverse cultural expressions and have their beliefs and opinions challenged by others. Artistic expression plays a critical role in public debate addressing socially pertinent issues vital for any vibrant and functioning democracy. Arts and culture are central to shaping communities at the local, regional and national level, as they represent narratives and conversations that can contribute to a wider feeling of belonging and social cohesion.
Freemuse has taken the initiative to build The Global Action Network (GAN). It launched the GAN at the SAFE Havens 2019 conference in Cape Town, where more than 100 NGO’s, artists and activist where gathered. The response was very positive. It will also present the GAN at Art at Risk conference in Zurich.
- Makhbuba Saidakhmedova and Muattarkhon Bashirova: SDC Central Asia Art and Culture Programme
The Regional Art and Culture Programme was developed and launched in 2007 by the Cooperation offices in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan building on the vision of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. Ever since it has been an innovative, effective and context-adapted vehicle to promote universal values such as democratic principles, openness and diversity as well as strengthening social and cultural dynamism and connections in the communities it involved. The Programme aims to protect and to enlarge a social space where democratic values can be expressed and intercultural dialogue happen. It has the potential to allow marginalised voices to be heard and new or unpopular ideas to be shared. Art and cultural events help individuals to expand their life choices and adapt to changes. More generally, values and beliefs determine societies’ vitality and diversity in terms of identity, ethics and governance. Theatre directors, cinematographers, poets and their likes are often actors instilling new ideas. They are curious, creative, and interested in exchanging with others. Various events, such as concerts, performances, exhibitions, art mediation activities, publications, master-classes are sponsored on national and regional level; furthermore, the Programme also aims at the organizational development of artistic associations.
- Daria Serenko: Silent Rally, Moscow, Russia
Daria Serenko, “Moscow’s quietest activist”, shows how protest in Russia functions today. Since 2016, she has been making her daily trip to work and back into a protest action, which she also sees as an educational project. Equipped with a cardboard sign and felt-tip pen, she tinkers with messages against homophobia and domestic violence along the way, or writes slogans for the release of political prisoners. At a demonstration she could get into trouble with that, but the police seldom ride the subway. Hundreds of people see her messages here every day. “Silent Rally” is what she calls her project, but her ride is rarely silent. The posters and signs are the starting point for daily conversations among previously complete strangers. This way Serenko succeeds in doing something that is rare in the current Russian society: involving the most different and above all previously unknown people in discussions: “My posters are an invitation. I notice immediately when people look over to me or approach me inconspicuously to be able to read the message better. Then I turn the poster a little more offensively in their direction or smile at them and we have an opening for a discussion. The trick is to turn hostility into productive conversation.” In the meantime, the artist has imitators in other Russian cities, too, who make public transport unsafe with changing messages on boards, bags and musical instruments.
- Regula Stibi: Post-graduate Course CAS Arts and International Cooperation
This Certificate of Advanced Studies course is organised by the Centre of Continuing Education of the Zurich University of the Arts in collaboration with artasfoundation, the Swiss Foundation for Art in Regions of Conflict.
The one-year training is designed to bring together members of internationally cooperating organizations (development cooperation, diplomatic service, foundations, NGOs), and experienced artists and curators.
The curriculum is designed to give participants a critical understanding of the potential and limitations of working with art in fragile contexts and in peacebuilding. Through examples and field-visits, they get insight into actual projects in this realm. Assisted by an international group of lecturers, they develop a sensitive approach to international artistic collaboration in regions of conflict and learn how to evaluate its qualities and social relevance.
The part-time course consists of four modules that take place in Zurich and – in the form of a study trip – in a region, where exemplary international art projects are visited (e.g. Caucasus, MENA region). It finishes with an individual, mentored thesis project. The course language is English.
In February 2020, 17 students from 7 different countries graduate from the second edition of this course. The next edition will begin in January 2021 (application from September 2020 onwards).
- Julie Trébault: Artists at Risk Connection of PEN America
Artists take risks for all of us. Because they express cultural identity, advance new ideas, promote dialogue, and bear witness to inhumanity, they often become the targets of autocratic regimes that wish to maintain the status quo. The Artists At Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America, was developed in response to these threats faced by artists around the world. ARC aims the safeguard the right to artistic freedom of expression and ensures that artists everywhere can live and work without fear. ARC primarily achieves this by connecting persecuted artists to our growing global network of resources, facilitating cooperation among human rights and art organizations, raising visibility of challenges to artistic freedom of expression, and amplifying the stories and work of at-risk artists.
- Matthias von Hartz: Theaterspektakel Zürich: Reflecting the Effects of European Festivals in the Global South
Zürcher Theater Spektakel is the biggest international Performing Arts Festival of Switzerland. Throughout its 40 years of existence, the festival has devoted special attention to artists and artistic work from the Global South. Many artists who are now well known in the international performing arts scene have in their early days visited the festival in Zurich. Moreover, many artists from the Global South have made some of their first steps into international performing arts markets and networks through presenting newcomer work at Zürcher Theater Spektakel. While this might be true for many festivals, here, special attention has been given to the establishment and continuation of special development and exchange formats such as the international Watch&Talk residency (with the generous support of Migros Cultural Percentage, until 2020), the international expert jury, and the program section Short Pieces. It was established roughly ten years ago to offer an international presentation platform for small-scale work of young and emerging artists.
When discussing attempts to create access for artists from different regions to an international festival network, however, it has to also be considered that the festival’s presentation formats as well as its modes of operation and communication have been developed in a particularly wealthy country of the Global North and with a perspective that is anchored in Western culture. This context also impacts artistic approaches and aesthetics in the Global South, which require caution and careful attention.
- Mara Züst: Mini–Zine Library Project in Calcutta, Lahore and Zurich
The Mini-Zine Library Project is all about empowerment through gathering expressions. It is an international community art project in the format of a traveling library of zines, small and simple home-made publications. Conducted mainly by Habib Afsar and Mara Züst, it runs in its second year. Starting in Kolkata (India), the project then travelled to Lahore (Pakistan) and Langnau (Switzerland). For the future the artists plan to include more countries and localities. With nearly 1000 zines, prepared by in and out of school children, teachers, and adults, the project envisions a coming together of various communities through the workshops and public events organized to celebrate the self-created Mini-Zine-Library. The zine-making workshops are resource-oriented and encourage free-expression through play, discourse and, most importantly, the opportunity of coming together to create something beautiful.
Moderated by Sandra Frimmel (artasfoundation)