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PolARTS: a first selection of tandems

«Snow Sampling on a first field trip of Sabine Harbeke, Margrit Schwikowski and scientists of the Paul Scherrer institute on Jungfraujochfirn 21 & 22 January 2020» © Sabine Harbeke

Swiss Polar Institute

Information on our PolARTS partner

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Leonie Thalmann
Innovation & Society

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A total of 15 tandems made up of renowned artists and researchers applied for participation in the PolARTS pilot project. On the arts side, applicants included representatives of all disciplines supported by Pro Helvetia. Some of the tandem partners got to know each other at a specific matchmaking event in December 2019. Among the applicants, four tandems whose submitted project stood out in terms of quality, originality and prospective synergies were ultimately selected by an interdisciplinary jury in cooperation with the PolARTS initiators Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute.

The four tandems are:

Sabine Harbeke (author, director and Deputy Head of Directing Practice at the Zurich University of the Arts) with Prof. Margit Schwikowski (Head of the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institut)

Through their collaboration, they aim to become acquainted with each other’s methods, production and research world. In terms of content, the cooperation will focus on anthropogenic climate change. The joint process, as well as a possible ice-drilling expedition to Mongolia, will be documented, reflected on and fictionalised in an artistic journal and may result in a theatre production.

Mario von Rickenbach (game designer, Co-Founder of the Playables game studio and lecturer at ECAL) with Carolin Willibald (PdD student in snow physics at the Institute of Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos)

Why is snow white? And what does a perfect snowball look like? Simple questions that lead to complex answers. Characterising the microstructure of snow lies at the heart of the collaboration. With its project, the tandem envisages new perspectives on the constantly changing matter of snow and its complex interaction with the environment. Space is also provided for an element of playfulness.

Barbara Schibli (author) with Prof. Gabriela Schaepman-Strub (Professor of Earth System Sciences, University of Zurich)

In its joint project, the tandem aims to capture the stillness and the sounds of the Arctic tundra, an ecosystem that is especially vulnerable to global climate warming. A research expedition to Siberia is planned, as well as an audio play or podcast project that is to convey the soundscape of this vast and fascinating region.

Gianna Molinari (author) and Christoph Oeschger (visual artist, photographer and PhD student at the Zurich University of the Arts) with Fien de Doncker (PhD student in geography, University of Lausanne)

Data, language and images are the core competences of the three participants. Their joint interest lies in making the invisible visible. This provides the methodological framework for their collaboration. In terms of content, the tandem will deal with the conventional image of a pristine Arctic, while the region is, in fact, coming under increasing ecological, economic and political pressure. The joint work process and the planned expedition to Greenland will be documented in a digital research catalogue, which is also to contain an encyclopaedia of jointly researched terms and concepts. Their platform will be supplemented by a collection of (real-world) research objects.