Art Education – Inter-Culturally
This year we started a three-year exchange project for future art teachers. Each year three Swiss universities and one partner university in the South Caucasus are sending students and lecturers to take part in the exchange. In the spring of 2022, the exchange took place between Armenia and Switzerland and at the moment we are preparing the second part of the project in Georgia for September 2022 and January 2023.
How is art taught in public schools in the South Caucasus? What are the educational goals of the curriculum there? And what do these look like in different Swiss cantons? How do the – sometimes implicit – values and orientations of the respective societies flow into school teaching? What is the understanding of art in the different countries’ approaches to teaching? The participants are able to explore such questions in joint practical work.

Wishing Wishes
The dance project Wishing Wishes invites young people from Armenia and Abkhazia1 to explore their own wishes and visions, and encourages them to expand their familiar horizons of action and to position themselves independently in relation to the social norms of their home environment. New spaces for play are created in the encounter of traditional folk and national dances of the South Caucasus, which are oriented towards communality, with Western-influenced contemporary dance, with its focus more on improvisation and the individual. Swiss dancers and choreographers work in close collaboration with colleagues from the South Caucasus.

Jour Fixe – 7 December 2022, 17h15 CET
Transcending national borders and bringing cultures into play:
The artistic research project Chapakhana Archive

Chapakhana is the Bengali term for printing press – Chapakhana Archive is the name of the recently concluded collaboration project between Bengali and Swiss artists, which deals with the local aesthetic, but also production-technological history of printing in Dhaka as well as in Switzerland.
For the last Jour Fixe of this year, we would like to invite you to a conversation about this project initiated by the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and led by artas team member Mara Züst together with Samsul Alam Helal. Mara Züst will introduce us to the project and we will then discuss in particular how the organisers have dealt with the challenges they have faced in this context.

This time we have moved the Jour Fixe a bit forward because of Christmas: Instead of the 3rd Wednesday in December, it will take place on 7 December. So, we are looking forward to welcoming you on 7 December with gingerbread, mandarins, and nuts in our office! If you can’t be there, you can also join the conversation via Zoom, if you have registered in advance.

artasfoundation invites you to the Jour Fixe on the third Wednesday of every month to discuss ongoing projects as well as issues related to the work of the foundation or political developments in the partner countries. 

It's a hybrid event, taking place both on site at Lindenbachstrasse 21 in Zurich and in virtual space. 

The discussion is held in German or English, depending on the participants.

If you wish to be informed about the agenda each month, please sign up on our Jour Fixe invitation list here.


From the current circular

What can contributing to peaceful coexistence through art in conflict regions mean in concrete terms in the war and crisis in Eastern Europe? The attack by Russian troops on Ukraine and the resulting dire war also challenges the political settlements in the Caucasus. In Armenia and Georgia, where we were active with projects this autumn, the situation is also far from stable as fighting flared up again between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September. In the streets of Tbilisi, Yerevan or Gyumri, we observe countless young people who have arrived from Russia. They look bewildered, staring at their mobile phones or computers in cafés. In Armenia, the locals hardly believe what they see: ‘Instead of the usual imperial hubris, we now see claimants: Russians queue from 5 AM for naturalisation in Armenia!’ In Georgia, Ukrainian flags are everywhere and trust in the government is low, just like in Armenia.

For our projects in Armenia, the resurgence of border clashes has meant daily weighing: The planned workshops take place in safe locations, but the participants come from the frontier region with Azerbaijan. Was it quiet in their villages in the last few days? Will they be open to artistic activity in such tense circumstances? Will the parents of participants accept to send their children to a workshop in a safer place or will they prefer to keep the family united at home? Will we be able to provide a glimmer of hope for young people at such a sombre time? We have gained experience with art initiatives post-conflict and to prevent violence. But what if violence is imminent or, in some cases, already underway? Deciding whether an art initiative makes sense here is a tricky balancing act. Opting to cancel, postpone or try amounts to walking a tightrope. This remains true even though we can rely on a good local network and trusted people.

So far, our decisions have paid off: We postponed one workshop and held three others (see the reports below). With very few exceptions, all registered participants took part in our programmes and resolutely engaged in artistic work. In the process, joy, laughter and togetherness emerged in spite of the worrisome climate. However, the question remains: Where to draw the line? Where can art nurture and where shall it leave fear and survival take precedence? Grappling with this conundrum has become our daily routine!

1artasfoundation would like to underline that its use of names and titles particularly in regards to conflict regions should not be understood as implying any form of recognition or non-recognition by the foundation or as having any other political connotation whatsoever.