Here are the projects that unfolded during the year within our Residency Programme, an exchange between Switzerland and South America
Residency artists in 2023
Alex Amir Khan
Switzerland > Brazil | Visual Arts
Visual artist and designer Alex Amir Khan has been experimenting with latex since the beginning of his practice. “It is quite a complex material to handle; it’s like five years of learning, but all the time I was telling myself: it has many possibilities. And I decided to investigate it, its history, what’s behind this market, which is all over the world but is also an exploitation market,” he says. In 2022, during a residency in Mexico, he spent months working alongside artisans and studying their traditions. One year later, as part of Pro Helvetia South America’s residency program, he continued his investigation on another trip through the Brazilian Amazon, a region rich in rubber trees and marked by extraction cycles of this material.
Not linked to any residency space, he first spent some time in São Paulo, organising his trip and making contacts. “I read a lot about rubber cycles in Brazil. It’s a fatal story, an opportunistic extraction, and we see how these themes from before are also important today with the exploration of Amazon. Thet went to social media. That’s how I was able to communicate with communities far away and make the first contact. Of course, sometimes it’s problematic because people can fear a foreigner who wants to go somewhere, and they don’t know exactly what to expect. But gradually, you start to understand and contextualise your residence in this territory. Furthermore, you need to be super flexible,” he explains.
Argentina > Switzerland | Literature
Writer Betina González based her project on a meeting between Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and the Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo that took place in Zurich in 1934. The encounter was a rather cold event, but it led to an epistolary relationship between the two. It also evidences how Jung played an important role in Ocampo’s work. For her research, González spent one month in Villa Sträulli, in Winterthur, besides connecting with partners and organisations such as The C. G. Jung Institute and the C. G. Jung House Museum [Zurich].
During this period, Betina worked on “Victoria Ocampo Meets Carl Jung”, a nonfiction piece about how the meeting of these two personalities shaped a chapter of the XX century’s cultural history. Beyond their personal idiosyncrasies, the text addresses issues like patriarchy, ethnocentrism and colonialism through the misunderstandings and coincidences of these two authors in their readings of the South America-Europe cultural relationship, and their use of different symbols and metaphors for understanding male and female roles in their worlds.
Switzerland > Argentina | Visual Arts
After a previous stay in Buenos Aires, in 2018, visual artist Bettina Carl continued her research during a residency at La Ira de Dios. The artist, known for her drawing practice and installations, embarked on collaborations with an experimental, open-ended, multimedia character. The idea was to shift her practice from drawing towards site-specific and ephemeral formats: delving into the hybrid, exploring ways of merging visual signs, sound, and language, and focussing on dialogical processes.
During her stay, she connected with partners and the local scene and participated in open-studios and collective exhibitions.
Switzerland > Brazil | Performing Arts
Interested in the complex relationship between humans and other animals and the implications on the environment, Daniel Hellmann has created, in 2018, a queer, vegan alter ego: Soya the Cow. This ongoing performance, music, and activism project questions the Swiss cow mythology and anthropocentric self-image in a playful and direct way. For his research in Brazil, he set off to ALTO Residency, in Chapada dos Veadeiros, in the Brazilian Cerrado. The idea was to investigate the connection between Switzerland (a country that imports soybeans) and Brazil (a major producer), the entanglement and the interconnectedness of global food supply chains, cattle-driven deforestation, and its impact on the environment and the climate.
“I came with the intention to learn about the local Cerrado biome, and how it is destroyed making place for cows, corn, and soy fields. I witnessed some of this destruction, but what I found is also the story of resilience and intelligent conservation,” he describes. After that experience, Daniel spent some time in São Paulo connecting to the local drag scene.
Brazil > Switzerland | Visual Arts
“Novas Mucosas” (new mucous membrane) is ongoing research by visual artist Diambe da Silva based on creole edible roots. Those materials are the starting point for a sculptory practice in bronze foundry. During a stay at AZB Residency [Arbeitsgemeinschaft Zürcher Bildhauer], in Zurich, Diambe researched food markets in Switzerland to understand the food culture and trace parallels with their original research in Brazil. After investigating what exists of African, Amerindian, and Asian roots in Swiss markets, the artist created the work, presented in an exhibition at AZB. The idea is to discuss the legacy of the Brazilian Antropofagia (the modernist principle that one should digest foreign culture in order to combine their influences with national culture), understand how we can blend those roots, and find, in food, a memory value.
Brazil > Switzerland | Music
Sound artists Anelena Toku and Carla Boregas, from the Brazilian duo FRONTE VIOLETA, seek to relate to the natural environment not as a setting for their performance but as a way to dilute human protagonism. Thus, the artists search for nature’s subjective manifestations experience and evoke this memory that goes beyond matter. During a residency at La Becque [La Tour-de-Peilz], the duo intended to get in touch with the Swiss landscape, both natural and cultural, to awaken sensitivity through a poetic-aesthetic dialogue with the environment.
“At the end of our residency, we named our project “Infinite Becoming”. Maybe because we arrived in the winter and left in spring. Maybe because while in front of Lac Léman and its apparently still waters, we saw mountains and houses disappearing in a flood in our home country. Maybe because we arrived thinking about researching the natural and social contrasts between stability and instability, and during that time, we realized that, in nature, nothing is completely stable or unstable. Not the water in the lake, nor the mountains,” de duo describes. “During our stay, we also developed studies for a new multi-sensorial performance reflecting on: the intrinsic relationship between sounds and smells of nature related to wellness as a consequence of the domestication of our senses and the commodification of nature; the idea of the natural environment as a provider of only pleasant sensations alienating ourselves from many stimuli that could evoke other sensations such as alert states, stress and disorientation.”
At La Becque, FRONTE VIOLETA also finished a new album through recomposing sounds and intentions extracted from our their most recent multidisciplinary projects.
Bolivia > Switzerland | Sound Art
Founder and director of SONANDES, a Bolivian platform dedicated to musical experimentation and sound art, Guely Morató has been working, since 2020, in “Wak’a: Neo-Extravism, Sacredness & Deep Listening”, a project that articulates collaborations between Bolivian artists and practitioners from other countries [‘wak’a” means “sacred place” in Quechua]. During her residency, Guelly connected with artists and possible colaborators for SANANDES, besides developing a 35-minute multichannel audio work, presented at a concert in Basel. She also studied sound spatialisation with an emphasis on engineering designed for an itinerant exhibition that brings together sound pieces from Africa, Asia, America, and Europe.
Brazil > Switzerland | Visual Art
With research in constructivism and concretism, visual artist João Modé articulates his work around a plural notion of languages and spaces for action. For his residency at Atelier Mondial, in Basel, he based his project on the participation of Max Bill [CH] in the first São Paulo Biennial, in 1951, with the work “Tripartite Unit”, a fundamental piece to open ways to concretism in Brazilian art. From that historical fact, he openly researched the geometrical art movement in Switzerland and in Europe, not only in the field of visual arts but also in architecture and graphic design, to compare these forms to the contemporary dystopia. During his stay, he connected with partners, visited several institutions, sites, and events, like Art Basel, and exhibitions by Magdalena Abakanowicz and Elsi Giauque. In the end, Modé also had a solo exhibition at Peter Kilchmann’s gallery in Zurich.
This project, entitled “HORIZON_T_E”, is an extension of the research Modé has conducted since 2013, when he started a group of works called “Constructive [Paninhos]”, using kitchen cloths, scarves, and sheets from his home. Those pieces are a kind of homage to the abstract-geometric tradition of Brazilian art.
Argentina > Switzerland | Visual Arts
As a digital artist, Joaquina Salgado combines different technologies to create experiences that blur the boundaries between the physical and the dream world and create otherworldly and abstract images. She is interested in the relationship between humans and machines and the artefacts that form our construction of reality.
During her residency at Atelier Mondial, in Basel, she developed the project “Co-afinación” (“Co-tuning”), exploring the poetics of mediations and the transfer of energy from one location to another. Using a videogame engine software, she worked on a virtual environment to stream live motion capture data over the Internet, allowing users in multiple remote locations to interact in the same shared digital space. She participated in the group exhibition “Inherit”, in Basel, presenting her AV installation “Avispish Reloaded”, a work crossed by her experiences in the previous months, especially by the political events she lived alongside other artists and activists in the context of 8M mobilizations. Also, she showed “Deriva”, an audiovisual performance centred on the playing of cellist Violeta Garcia, at ZHdK’s Immersive Arts Space.
Uruguay > Switzerland | Sound Art
Music and sound artist Juanita Fernández participated in a residency at Musikwohnhaus, in Basel, where she worked on her project “Choir of Species”, that consists of sound and electrical signal collection from different species. Juanita, who is in close contact with the traditional music of Uruguay, draws inspiration from candomblé culture and the principle of welcoming collective manifestations. During her residency, she connected with scientists and artists to further develop the project and making recordings. She has also performed her work in the country.
Switzerland > Colombia | Music
A musician from Basel with a wide range of influences, Jennifer Perez, aka La Nefera, has always preserved much of her Dominican roots and brings to her musical production a mix of hip-hop, electronic, and Latin sounds. Along with her co-band leader Victor Hege, she participates in a residency in Colombia to collaborate with local artists, drawing from their previous connections with Colombian multi-instrumentalist Sebastián Rozo, a member Frente Cumbiero band.
During the period, the duo dedicated time to work on album studios, film music videos and present their recent work in different parts of the country. La Nefera has also participated in a retreat focused on learning about the Afro-Pacific culture in the Guapi and Timbiqui region.
Switzerland > Argentina | Visual Arts
A performance artist focusing on text, as material, and on the political aspect of poetic expression, Martina-Sofie Wildberger set out to research the feminist movement “Ni Una Menos” in Argentina, which is described as a “collective scream against machista violence” and refers to the high number of femicides in the country. Martina has been researching the connection between voice and empowerment, notably with her performance “SCREAM” (2019), where she subjects screaming to close observation.
During her residency at La Ira de Dios, in Buenos Aires, she looked into collaboration with local activists and artists, attending events, and researching content and theory. She has also presented her performance “I Want to Say Something” at the MABCA Museum.
Chile > Switzerland | Theatre
An artist dedicated to political theatre, Chilian actor and director Sebastián Squella has worked on the project “Beyond Democracy” during his residency at Kaserne, in Basel. Based on reflections on the so-called “crisis of representation”, the research led to a theatre play thar proposes to demystify the idea of democracy on stage, creating a space to experiment with how much each person can exercise their own voice without representatives.
The show, presented as a work in progress at the end of his stay in Basel, has no actors on stage. “At the beginning of the project, I got to work with actors, but I decided to take a more radical approach to how to put the debate of representation on stage. During the residency, what I did was not only write the work but also invent the way the public should do it,” says Squella.
Colombia > Switzerland | Music
For her project “Analoge Undine”, musician Sol Okarina drew inspiration from the myth of the undine, a nymph who protects waters, to explore different pallets that merge organic and synthetic sounds. During her residency, divided into a period at Villa Stäulli and then a second moment at smem (Swiss Museum and Centre for Electronic Music Instruments), she has collaborated with artists from the Swiss experimental scene, performed in open studios, and experimented with voice, electronic textures, and real-time audio processing in an analogue format. Through undine, an ancient mythology present in different cultures, Sol assembles a diversity of rhythms (with some Latin American influence) and searches for fluidity in her musical creations.
Switzerland > Chile | Dance
Tamara Alegre’s work revolves around sensuality, erotic force, and political content. During their residency in NAVE, in Santiago de Chile, the dancer and choreographer set out to research the local context, exchange with artists and practitioners (a contact they have been having through online events) and make connections between South American culture and her own – born in the Canary Islands, the artist feels a closer relation to the Latin culture. Tamara is especially interested in investigating the local dancehall and twerk scene, questioning about the concept of cultural appropriation and envisioning a future creation.