Jour Fixe – Art in Conflict

17. April 2024, 17.15 h CET
artasfoundation, Lindenbachstr. 21, Zurich & Zoom

Can the Performing Arts Contribute to Social Change?
Reading Group with Bojana Cvejić, dramaturge and researcher, and Ana Vujanović, independent researcher and cultural worker

A “crisis of the social”, as understood by Ana Vujanović and Bojana Cvejić, occurs when a society is no longer perceived as a whole like in a collectivist understanding, but rather as a living tapestry of individuals who are only responsible to take care of themselves. But why is it so difficult to imagine a society different from the one that reproduces neoliberal capitalism? The two authors of the book Toward a Transindividual Self, from which we will read the Introduction, see art as an ideal realm for new social imaginaries to emerge. What can we do with the resources that we have? With the knowledge and practice of performance and dramaturgy in particular? And how does performance provide a method for describing and analysing how individuals relate to themselves today?

Ana Vujanović is a team member and mentor at the School for New Dance Development, University of the Arts Amsterdam, a guest professor at Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz, University of the Arts Berlin, and an independent scholar and cultural worker. Bojana Cvejić is a Professor of Dance Theory at the Oslo Academy of the Arts KhIO, theory coordinator and teacher at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios Brussels and an independent scholar and dramaturg. They were collaborating as members of TkH/Walking Theory collective from 2001–2017, previously they co-wrote the book Public Sphere by Performance (bbooks, 2012). For the discussion with Vujanović and Cvejić on 17. April, please prepare by reading the above-mentioned text.

The discussion will be held in English. The event will take place in the artasfoundation office as well as online on Zoom. To sign up for the Zoom link, please, e-mail us by 16. April. This event is part of a monthly series that is organised by the CAP, a joint initiative of artasfoundation and the ZHdK. If you wish to be regularly informed about the agenda each month, please, sign up for our Jour Fixe invitation list here.

Next dates:

8. May 2024, 17.15 h CET – Reading Group
How to Narrate War Through Photography?
with Meinrad Schade, photographer
artasfoundation, Lindenbachstr. 21, Zurich & Zoom

5. June 2024, 17.15 h CET – Reading Group
What Does Artistic Collaboration in Exile Require?
with Tamara Janashia on the artasfoundation project Tbilisi Crossroads
artasfoundation, Lindenbachstr. 21, Zurich & Zoom


Art Education – Inter-Culturally
In 2022 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 participate in the project. In spring 2022, the exchange took place between Armenia and Switzerland and in September 2022 and January 2023 between Georgia and Switzerland and in February 2024 again between Armenia and Switzerland.
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.

CAS Further Education course Arts and International Cooperation
CAS Arts and International Cooperation brings together professionals in arts practice, peace building activists, project managers from international organisations. Through theoretical concepts and practical exercises you will engage in joint discussions and exchange with experienced lecturers. A central element of the course is a study trip to actual art projects in fragile contexts.

Teachers’ Training
Schools in the border villages of Armenia affected by the war are facing severe teacher shortages. Against this background, an exchange of ideas between artasfoundation and the Armenian State Pedagogical University – the only institution in Armenia responsible institution responsible for teacher training in the country – has resulted in the offer of a futher education training for practicing art teachers from peripheral regions of Armenia. It is the first of its kind in the country. In the summer and fall of 2022, the course was held for the first time with 37 art teachers from the border regions. Due to the great demand, the project was continued in August and November 2023.


From the current circular

As a part of our daily life in artasfoundation, we are continuously learning how to deal with the uncertainties in today’s world. This summer, we have run a number of different projects, including a new edition of the Teachers’ Training course in Armenia, the International Summer School for Socially Engaged Arts, and Impulse Days in Music Therapy. At the same time we were preparing for the third workshop of the project Art Education – inter-culturally in Armenia. However, at the time of writing this text, we have decided to postpone this workshop to the start of 2024. This decision has been made due to the escalation of the war around Nagorno-Karabakh and its impact on the whole of Armenia. The gravity of the events required us to slow down and listen attentively to the emotional capacities of our partners in the region. It is not the first and will not be the last time that war and conflicts affect our activities, but this is precisely why we believe that social transformation is site-specific and only possible when actions are contextualised and international organisations act and react in alignment with the ever-changing context, especially in regions affected by conflict.

In the work of artasfoundation we celebrate the strength that art introduces into in our communities, even into those experiencing severe losses. To this aim, we are in constant dialogue with collaborating artists and cultural workers. We sensitively design our social transformative art projects, experimenting with various art practices and forms as a vehicle towards a more equitable future where communities creatively lead their own transformation.

As we understand the challenges in the political, cultural and social contexts in which we operate, we also look at, and continually reflect on, our own internal structures, adapting according to the changes and learning we experience. After months of researching, building and rebuilding, experimenting and weaving together affinities, we are now able to open our kitchen to friends and colleagues to inform you that artasfoundation is transforming to become a geographically decentralised structure involving seven members from art, management and research backgrounds, who share the fundamental belief that the only way for all of us to live together is through the peaceful, long-term transformation of our societies.

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.