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PolARTS: Researchers and artists join forces

With their PolARTS initiative, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute are enabling nine personalities from the worlds of art and polar research to collaborate in tandems.   On the recommendation of an external jury, the Arts Council selected four out of the 15 tandems that had applied. The tandems chosen combine, for example, the disciplines of theatre with environmental chemistry and interactive media with snow physics. The artists and researchers will engage in an exchange lasting several months, conduct creative field research or develop a joint project.

With the PolARTS project, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is taking a first concrete step in its support of innovative models of production and collaboration between the arts, sciences and technology. Joint work at the interfaces opens up new perspectives and new fields of activity for the participating arts practitioners and researchers and is intended to foster new approaches to our understanding of an ever more complex world.

PolARTS is enabling four tandems from various arts and research disciplines to cooperate over several months in fields such as polar research, glaciology and biodiversity. The arts practitioners and researchers involved will maintain an ongoing dialogue, jointly reflect on each other’s work, if possible undertake expeditions to polar or remote high-altitude regions or to areas particularly affected by climate, and thereby acquire new insights and develop new models of cooperation.  The insights gained could also result in a joint artistic project.

Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute together drafted the support concept behind PolARTS with the aim to ensure the realisation of specific projects from the worlds of culture and science.  “The endeavours of both artists and researchers begin with ideas and hypotheses,” says Seraina Rohrer, Head of Innovation & Society at Pro Helvetia. “Even if their methods and work processes differ, both pursue a similar target, which is to question existing assumptions in order to gain new insights.”

15 tandems of art practitioners and scientists applied for a PolARTS grant. Some of the tandem partners had got to know one another at a specifically organised matchmaking event.  Ultimately, four tandems whose submitted project stood out in terms of quality, originality and prospective synergies were recommended to Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute by an interdisciplinary jury.

The selected tandems:

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Gianna Molinari (author and Programme Assistant at the Solothurner Literaturtage festival) 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)
  • Barbara Schibli (author) with Prof. Gabriela Schaepman-Strub (Professor of Earth System Sciences, University of Zurich)

Further information on the tandems can be accessed here:

Images: https://prohelvetia.sharepoint.com/:f:/s/TeamKommunikation/EiYM-Xarq3hLsSjaEZWQckwBX346AvNpwI5GZoCVWxaksg?e=SsiSD8 

Media information:

Lisa Stadler
+41 44 267 71 51

Media Release
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, 30 April 2020

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