To establish a centre of competence for art in the context of conflict mediation and peace building in Switzerland.
To initiate art projects in affected regions in the aftermath of war; in the process of reconstruction and democratisation, and to supplement established humanitarian work with art.
To conduct such art projects together with local partner organisations, and to jointly document and evaluate them.
To support ongoing diplomatic peace-building mediation by independent national or private institutions with specific artistic initiatives at various levels of society.
To conduct research and analyse the existing examples and methods of art within the context of conflict mediation and peace building and to apply this research to new initiatives.
To network between individual initiatives for art in the context of conflict mediation and peace building and to encourage an exchange of experiences.
To publicly present initiatives of art in peace building outside of conflict areas and foster dialogue.
Point of departure
Engaging in art is a basic human need. Humanitarian support in the aftermath of conflicts should provide time and space for art.
Art offers a specific way of relating to the world. It invites us to let go of utilitarian calculations, sharpen our perception and see the supposedly known in a new way. Accordingly, it creates new perspectives for conflict resolution.
Art allows us to communicate experiences that are difficult to put into words and to bring together people of very different cultural backgrounds. Creating a space beyond everyday concerns, art invites us to experiment with new ways of acting. Artworks stimulate discussions and exchange of opinions between conflicting parties.
Through art, disregarded and economically deprived people can assert their dignity and gain a hearing and personal recognition. In that, art is similar to religion, but it can intervene in situations where religion is politically instrumentalized.
In order for art to develop this potential, it must not be subordinated to any fixed goals or purposes – no matter how good the intentions might be. It needs a space of trust in which to play, without guaranteed outcomes or proven effects.
The above applies to quality artistic work in all forms, media and traditions (visual, music, dance, drama, film, literature, etc.).
The foundation is non-profit. Its purpose is to provide help and opportunities for self-help: for its sponsors and partners it wants to create the possibility for meaningful commitment. For those who are directly exposed to violence, it wants to enable experiences and encounters that will give them support in overcoming this violence.
In its work and cooperation with other organisations, the foundation subscribes to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The foundation has no political affiliations.
The foundation calls upon art of quality in different media and from different places of origin, and provides it with the necessary space.
With its projects, the foundation seeks to create lasting effects by fostering cooperation between artists based in conflict areas and artists from other countries or regions.
The foundation works together with highly qualified public and private institutions in the field of international peace building and endeavours to supplement their established practices and methods with contributions from the arts. The foundation makes its sponsorship transparent. It ensures that its donors give their support free of political obligations and without imposing conditions on the artistic work.
The Board of Trustees determines the guidelines and priorities of the foundation’s work and supervises the work of the office. It ensures the financial stability of the foundation, determines its structure and is responsible for its annual reports and financial statements. The Board of Trustees elects the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the foundation and works on an honorary basis.
The Presidium consists of two people, both are members of the foundation’s Board of Trustees and are elected by it. They act as representatives of the foundation. The president manages the foundation’s board and represents it officially. The Vice Presidency is operational.
Swiss Diplomat, President of artasfoundation
Heidi Tagliavini joined the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in 1982. A Swiss career diplomat for 30 years she served in 19 bilateral and multilateral assignments. In 2008 the Council of Ministers of the European Union appointed her as the Head of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission for the Conflict in Georgia (IIFFMCG). Her first assignments were in Bern and Lima. In 1989 she was transferred to the Swiss Embassy in Moscow. At the end of 1992 she was sent to The Hague as Councillor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy. In 1995, Heidi Tagliavini was deployed as a member of the first OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya in the middle of the Chechen war. In 1998, after a second term as Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy in Moscow, the UN Secretary General appointed Ambassador Tagliavini as Deputy Head of Mission to the UN Special Representative for the conflict in Georgia (UNOMIG). In 1999, she returned to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to head the Political Affairs Division of the Political Directorate dealing with human rights and humanitarian policy. In 2000, the Austrian OSCE Chairperson-in-Office appointed her as her personal representative for missions in the Caucasus. From 2001 to 2002, Heidi Tagliavini was Swiss Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2002 the UN SG appointed her as his Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). Back in the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2006, she served as Deputy Political Director and Deputy State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry. After the release of the EU commissioned report on the conflict in Georgia in 2009, Heidi Tagliavini served as the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission in several elections: the presidential election in Ukraine in 2010, the Duma elections 2011 and the presidential election 2012 in the Russian Federation as well as the presidential election in Armenia in 2013. From 2008–2012 she was also Diplomat-in-Residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. Heidi Tagliavini, born in Basel, Switzerland, completed her studies in philology in Geneva and Moscow. She speaks eight languages and holds two honorary doctorates from the universities of Basel and Bern. In 2013 she was awarded the Human Rights Prize by the International Society of Human Rights, Swiss branch. In the same year Heidi Tagliavini received the Gold Grand Decoration of Honor for services to the Republic of Austria.
Angelo Gnädinger war Sonderbeauftragter für den Südkaukasus im Auftrag des Amtsvorsitzenden der OSZE. Davor war er Generaldirektor des Internationalen Komitees des Roten Kreuzes und Interims-Geschäftsführer des Zentrums für humanitären Dialog.
Cultural geographer, consultant, lecturer at the Zürich University of the Arts.
Dagmar Reichert, born 1957 in Vienna, studied sports, geography and philosophy in Vienna and Toronto, held research fellowships in Stockholm and Cambridge, worked as visiting professor at the University of Bologna, the University of Salzburg and the ETH Zürich (MA, phD and Habilitation in human geography). From 2003 onwards, she was full professor for Cultural Geography at University Kassel and resigned early in 2006. At present she teaches cultural theory at the Zürich University of the Arts and runs a firm for research and consulting in Zürich.
She is author or editor of several books (‘Wissenschaft als Erfahrungswissen’, 2000, ‘Räumliches Denken’, 1996, ‘Limits of Representation’, 1994, ‘Umwelt zur Sprache bringen’, 1993 and ‘Ortssuche’, 1993) and has organized various cultural events and exhibitions (Airolo, 2007, Shedhalle Zürich, 2003; Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, 2002; Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin, 2001). She lives and works in Zürich.
Isa Stürm studied architecture at the ETH Zurich and earned her diploma in 1983 under the direction of Dolf Schnebeli. She was an assistant to Adolf Max Vogt at the chair for the theory and history of architecture at the ETHZ. She worked with Santiago Calatrava and Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron before creating an architectural bureau with Urs Wolf in 1988.
Isa Stürm Urs Wolf SA is active in Switzerland and abroad. Among its earliest projects were the Plarenga Domat-Ems garage (1988), the building for the Bureau of Social Security (SVA) of the canton of Zurich (1998), and the housing built on the Röntgenareal (1999). For Expo.02 they developed the Federal Swiss pavilion ‘Wer bin ich?’ (‘Who Am I?’ 2002). They also created exhibition architecture for Swiss Design, Akris, the Swiss Art Awards and exhibition stands for industrial and design products. They designed store interiors for Issey Miyake, Yoshi Yamamoto and Kerquelen in New York. Public building projects for culture with landmark status were the Kunst(Zeug)Haus in Rapperswil-Jona (2008) and the ‘Culture Depot’ Lokremise (locomotive depot) in St. Gallen (2010). Other major projects were the Art Museum in Liechtenstein, the Automobile Museum in Teufen, the Nam June Paik Museum in Korea, the Maritime Museum in Aaland, the Martyr’s Square and the Grand Axis in Beirut, Mobile Aids Clinic for Africa, the Presidents’ Lobby at the UN in New York, and the Housing Cooperative Waidmatt in Zurich. Current projects include the newly opened Stadthaus in the industrial district of the City of Zurich and the fashion showrooms in the Bahnhofstrasse. Their buildings and projects have received many awards.
Isa Stürm is actively involved in the theoretical discussion on architecture. She lectures regularly, participates in juries, project evaluations and discussions, and writes essays. She has worked as architectural expert for the Federal Arts Commission and visiting professor for architectural projects at the EPF in Lausanne. Isa Stürm sits on the boards of the Zurich Kunsthalle and the Sitterwerk Foundation in St. Gallen.
Margit Wästfelt, born 1948 in Graz, Austria, studied law and French at the University of Graz. During high school she spent one year with the American Field Service in the USA.
She worked as assistant professor at the Institute of Civil Law at Vienna University and continued education through postgraduate studies at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy.
In 1978 she joined the Austrian diplomatic service.
Her first assignment as a junior diplomat was the Austrian Embassy in Paris; after returning to Vienna she was designated to the department for legal and consular affairs setting up a hotline and ameliorating the service for the public.
In 1990 she was nominated cultural counsellor at the Austrian Embassy in Moscow; in 1995 promotion to deputy head of mission followed. Besides Russia the areas of activities also comprised the successor states to the Soviet Union. In 1999 she teamed up as deputy chief with the Austrian Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna; for the Austrian OSCE chairmanship in 2000 Margit Wästfelt was appointed special envoy; in 2002 she was installed as head of the Austrian Delegation to the OSCE. Her functions also encompassed Council of Europe affairs.
In 2008 Margit Wästfelt was nominated Ambassador to Finland. She finished her diplomatic career as Alternate Secretary General of the Central European Initiative in Trieste, Italy (2013–2015).
At present she is active as a consultant in the field of international economic relations and knowledge management.
Her publications are focused on topics concerning the OSCE and Council of Europe.
The staff conducts the operational work on behalf of the board. The staff is responsible for fundraising, develops the projects of the foundation efficiently and in correspondence to the financial means and is responsible for the annual narrative and financial reports to the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board of Foundations.
Monday 9–12 h
Tuesday 14–17 h
Wednesday 9–17 h
Sandra Frimmel is an art historian and research coordinator at the Centre for Arts and Cultural Theory (ZKK) at the University of Zurich
The advisory board is composed of specialists in various fields of art and art education, humanitarian work, diplomacy and mediation, as well as representatives of civil society.
The advisory board is consulted as needed for the orientation of the foundation in terms of content and the planning of its projects. It contributes to the networking of the foundation and works on an honorary basis.
Co-Director, artlink – Cultural Cooperation, Bern
Special Representative for the South Caucasus of the OSCE
Director of the Kunsthalle Zürich
Vice President of the ICRC, President of the Association Solothurner Filmtage
Director of the arts centre Progr, Bern
Artistic Director of Documenta 10, Curator, Paris
Child and Adolescent Psychoanalyst, London
Activities in Feminist Education, Peace Research and Security Policy. Programme Managment for FriedensFrauen worlwide.
Independent Mediator and Consultant for Conflict Transformation
Artistic Director of the Kaserne Basel
Thomas D. Meier
Dean of the Zurich University of the Arts
Writer and Director of Communications
Section Head, Federal Department of Culture, Switzerland
Dancer and Choreographer, Swiss Dance Award 2015, Zurich
Professor for Peace Research, University of Bremen
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Supervisor and Coach in Organisations, Zug
The Centre for Art and Peacebuilding (ZKF) was founded in 2020 from a joint initiative of the Swiss artasfoundation and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Thus, a partnership that began in 2012 and has resulted in over 20 joint projects has been given a new institutional framework with a long-term orientation.
Artistic initiatives for peaceful conflict resolution, for personal encounters and mediation in situations of violence or artistic approaches to express social conflict, to come to terms with the past, and rebuild society in post-conflict regions. At present, they are all attracting increased attention in International Cooperation as well as in the arts themselves.
As a common interface of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Swiss artasfoundation, the Centre for Art and Peacebuilding (ZKF) takes account of these developments.
The ZKF is tasked with researching the potential of artistic contributions to transform violent conflicts, testing it on a practical level in projects and discussing it with experts and the general public. It sees itself as an area for international collaboration that fosters respectful cultural exchange on a level playing field.
The Centre for Art and Peacebuilding promotes the involvement of students, lecturers and researchers of ZHdK in its work and interacts closely with the teaching and research at the university. Based on this and on the project work of artasfoundation, the ZKF can also partner with programmes for art and peacebuilding of national and international organisations (e.g. the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)) and related initiatives of other universities.
The four working areas of the ZKF
1. Practical work in conflict regions: Lecturers and students of the ZHdK carry out art projects in regions of conflict together with experienced staff from artasfoundation. Universities or artists of these regions are partners in these projects, repricocal learning is part of the programme. The will not only result in new impulses for social reconstruction in these regions but also practical experience in fair international cooperation across all economic and cultural divides: resources for young people to cope with the current global challenges.
2. Higher education: Some of the above-mentioned art projects are part of the curriculum of the BA and MA Studies at ZHdK. In addition, the ZKF is running a certificate of advanced studies (CAS) course in its further education programme.
3. Research: As much as artistic contributions are gaining recognition in practical peacebuilding, little systematic research has been carried out in this field. Neither have international best-practice examples been identified. The academic framework allows for particular projects to be accompanied by research as well as for comparative long-term studies.
4. Cooperation and network: As a Swiss institution the ZKF works with local institutions in the fields of art and peacebuilding, and also with the Geneva based international organisations, such as the UN. Furthermore, it strives to create a western European hub for a worldwide network of practitioners and organisations working with art in conflict regions.
artasfoundation is an operating foundation that is financed by grants and private contributions and that initiates its own projects. It is not an awarding foundation and does not process unsollicited applications for support from other parties.
artasfoundation makes its project partners and sponsorship transparent. It ensures that its donors give their support free of political obligations and without imposing conditions on the artistic work.
Financial or operative support
Our thanks to the following persons and institutions. Each has made valuable contributions to our projects.
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artasfoundation is governed by the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board of Foundations.
Würth Treuhand AG, Norastrasse 7, CH-8040 Zürich
Standards for financial reporting
The administration of finances meets the criteria of the Swiss GAAP RPC/FER21.
artasfoundation is recognised by the tax administration of the canton Zürich as a charitable trust.