Co-creation: celebrating diversity

Pro Helvetia New Delhi, Art+, Music, Performing Arts, Visual Arts
Two dancers, one white male, one brown female stand in mirroring poses
Jozsef Trefeli and Diya Naidu are undertaking the co-creation project “Bloom” together. Photo courtesy Jozsef Trefeli

Continuing from our previous round-up, we return again with a series of co-creation projects.

Co-creation projects allow for collaborations between artists and collectives in Switzerland and their counterparts in regions in the liaison offices. A result of these collaboration, recent and upcoming projects under the co-creation measure naturally veer towards a celebration of diversity. Below are some such projects.

To Celebrate

A celebration can be understood as an expressive action and these actions can be translated as states of euphoria. With “To Celebrate,” Aseng Borang and Johanna Heusser explore various forms of celebration, and physiological states of the body within the spectrum of euphoria. What kinds of ethics and aesthetics are developed or shared in such spaces? What kinds of bodies are being celebrated, and through which  practices? What are the conditions that create the state of euphoria in the bAody? In the first phase of their project during which they were on a joint residency at Attakkalari in Bengaluru, India, the duo investigated the above questions together.

Aseng Borang

Aseng Borang is a dance practitioner, choreographer and writer with a practice that involves the body, objects, landscape, performative text, yoga, pole dance and contemporary movement techniques. As a choreographer, her works investigate the physical and the subjective body within the constellation of resistance, vulnerability, fragility, absurdity and self-assertion.

Johanna Heusser

Basel-based dancer Johanna Heusser works with different companies and choreographers around Switzerland. She teaches dance and yoga internationally on a regular basis. Since 2016, she has been creating her own works, showcased at theatres and dance festivals around Europe. Heusser is the winner of the Atelier Mondial in 2018 and the Double Tanz 2020 by Migros Kultur Prozent.


‘Bloom’ by József Trefeli and Diya Naidu explores body politics for dancing bodies of varying ages. Through choreography, four dancers from different age groups unite to explore their capacities from youthful playfulness to dynamic athleticism to mature performance. Strengths as well as weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages, benefits and drawbacks encountered by each generation are revealed through the embodied research of dancers from contrasting cultures. ‘Bloom’ is an inclusive joyful approach to a universal topic that needs to be addressed in dance.

József Trefeli

József Trefeli is an Australian choreographer, dancer, singer and actor of Hungarian origin based in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from the University of Melbourne VCA. Trefeli has an extensive performance career, working with companies in Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

As a choreographer for stage, screen, theatre, opera, cabaret and music groups, Trefeli founded an association in Geneva in 2005 aimed at promoting choreographic research and cross-cultural artistic collaboration. The association has produced over 20 of his choreographic works which have been presented in over 120 cities across 36 countries on six continents.

Among his notable achievements, Trefeli’s work “Creature” won the “Swiss Dance Prize” in 2017, while his piece “Ipseity” received five nominations for the “Golden Mask” prize in 2021. Through his association, Trefeli facilitates long-term cultural exchanges by bringing together artists from diverse backgrounds.

Diya Naidu

Diya Naidu is an independent Indian choreographer and dancer whose practice is deeply rooted in movement forms like contemporary dance, yoga, kalaripayattu, and partner work. Her choreographic works often stem from years of embodied research with performers and community members through workshops, exploring themes such as intimacy, touch, patriarchal structures, and longing.

Naidu views artists as key integrators of different worlds and aims to create work that responds to societal needs. She founded and directs the Citizens of Stage Co Lab, a collective promoting dance sustainability through community engagement and job creation for dancers.

Naidu has worked with the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, where she was part of their repertory company and obtained a diploma in their somatic practices. Her approach blends multiple movement influences with a community-oriented, research-driven creative process.

B-Town Kids

Photo by Gina Folly

Rooted in the belief that art can transcend boundaries, the co-creation project “B-Town Kids” by aqui thami and Gina Folly seeks to explore the unique perspectives of children in the contrasting urban landscapes of Basel and Bombay. In this artistic exchange, aqui thami and Gina Folly want to embark on a journey of creativity, cultural exchange, and understanding through the unfiltered lens of the children. 

This project is nothing short of a reimagining of the conventional boundaries of art and a redefinition of the very essence of cultural exchange. “The B-Town Kids” is a cross-continental photographic dialogue that seeks to explore the world through the unfiltered lens of youth. It is an artistic exchange between 20 children aged 9 to 12 in Basel, Switzerland, and Bombay, India. These young artists are not only exploring the world through their cameras, but they are also forging connections that transcend geography and generations.

Aqui Thami

aqui thami. Photo by Nilesh Kumar

aqui is a Thangmi woman of the Kiratimma first peoples of the Himalayas, she uses social exchanges and develops safe spaces to position art as a medium of healing in community. aqui’s interdisciplinary practice ranges across ceremonial interventions, performances, drawings, zine-making, fly posting, and public intervention, brought together by participant involvement; most of her work is self-funded and realised in collaboration. sister library founded by aqui is an evolving art work that engages in the in-depth reflection on the visual and reading culture of our times. It is also the first traveling, community owned and community run feminist library of South Asia. aqui also collaboratively runs bombay underground, an artist collective that hosted South Asia’s first zine fest, bombay zine fest, and is central to the underground publishing scene, and dharavi art room, a space for children and women in Dharavi to explore creatively.

Gina Folly

Gina Folly. Photo by Reto Schmid.

Gina Folly (born in Zurich) graduated from the Zurich University of the Arts and is an artist based in Basel. Her practice focuses on the details of contemporary social organizations, as well as the private and public constructions of individuals’ lives. Through an ironic and subtle appropriation of the objects, messages, and situations surrounding us, she reveals the poetic potential and epistemological impact that these elements have on our daily life.

The Bio Synth

turcoyyzz by Nur. Photo by Mark Henley

Conveyed through a Bio-Synth, a traditional circus performance, and a hair hanging act, the collective vision of Nur and Akash Varma is to transform Nur’s body into a musical instrument. The body is used as a source, and generates data which then is transformed into sound by the Bio-Synth.

Through this co-creation, the artists aim to deepen their exploration of the body as instrument, pooling their artistic strengths and technical know-how to create an innovative amalgamation of a sound art and performance that pushes the boundaries of artistic expression, embracing multidisciplinary aesthetics encompassing sound art, science, dance, performance, and circus.


Photo by Kleio Obergfell

Nur is professionally involved in different cultural projects and in artistic research centred around sound and movement. Nur performs with sound – using feedback, field recordings, voice, and cheap synthesizers -alone or in collaborations. Nur has also developed performances with noise and circus techniques including sound art, acrobatics and laser in the collaboration ‘turcoyz.‘ Nur’s approach is transborder, striving to connect to all kind of inspirations from around the world and throughout genres.

Akash Varma |

Photo by Sarah Bahr

Akash Sharma is a sound artist exploring electro-acoustic improvisation, data manipulation, algorithmic compositions, and sensor-based music. He founded MusicTechSundays, India’s first community led learning platform to understand and explore the drastically changing landscape of music and technology. He is founding director of a sound research lab based out of Goa and Himachal Pradesh and working as chief researcher and archeo-acoustic conservationist.

Rehearsing Duality – Time ⇄ Mirror

Mira el SOL. Photo and collage. Elisa Storelli

In their co-creation project, Rohini Devasher and Elisa Storelli propose to set up an experiment to posit / prove alternative frames of collaboration between art and science. The title takes its name from two intertwined ideas, the ‘rehearsal’ and ‘duality’ or that which is shaped by the quality of ‘two’. Building on projects centered on Chronology and Mirroring, the duo will explore the format of a public staging /event to frame working methodologies created by the intersections, collisions and amplification of individual thinking.

Rohini Devasher

Photo courtesy the artist.

Working with video, sound, printmaking, drawing, installation, and other mediums, Rohini Devasher (b. 1978, New Delhi, India) maps the complexities of ecology, cosmology, and technology viewed through the twin lenses of wonder and the strange. Her expansive projects create worlds that emerge from deep research and scientific explorations, illuminating and complicating the subjects at hand. The theoretical grounding of her work draws from the history of science, philosophy, speculative fiction, and eco-horror. In her intricate artistic endeavours, she delves into the intersections of science, art, and philosophy.

Elisa Storelli

Elisa Storelli is a Swiss Italian artist based between Brissago and Berlin. Her practice – Chronomorphology – is dedicated to the artistic investigation of time. Storelli holds a diploma from the UdK Berlin. She has been a research fellow of the DiGiTal graduate program in Berlin 2020-2021. Since 2022 she is a research fellow of the binational program for artist at the HfK Bremen.

Photo by Nadja Krüger

Please note: as these co-creation projects are recent or upcoming, most project images are representative of past work.