From silences to power: co-creation projects from Switzerland and South Asia

Pro Helvetia New Delhi

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Co-creation projects allow for collaborations between artists and collectives in Switzerland and their counterparts in regions in the liaison offices. Some of these projects fortuitously turned out to be about reclaiming spaces of silence. Let’s speak about them here.

The co-creation grant is offered to artistic practices that result from previous exchanges between artists and collectives from the Pro Helvetia liaison offices and Switzerland.


The co-creation projects and their co-creators

Hallucinations of an Artifact

Different narratives abound around the figure of this statue with her hand on her hip. Is she a warrior? A dancer? To which nation, which religion does she belong? How does an ancient artifact think, move and respond to the current times? By bringing the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro (c. 2300-1750 BCE) to life through dance and artificial intelligence, ‘Hallucinations of an Artifact’ choreographically disrupts simplistic narratives around this irreverently playful and notoriously unclassifiable artifact.

‘Hallucinations of an Artifact’ is a collaboration between choreographer Mandeep Raikhy and visual artist Jonathan O’Hear. The two worked together previously on a production called Queen Size.

portrait of a man looking to his left

Mandeep Raikhy is a dance practitioner with a particular interest in exploring the intersections between dance creation, performance, research, and pedagogy. 

Mandeep’s choreographic work has been preoccupied with exploring the relationship between choreographic practice and political resistance. Over the last decade, he has created several works that have posed questions around gender, sexuality, religious belief and nationalism particularly focusing on ways in which the body is both shaped by and is in conflict with these constructs. 

portrait of a man gesturing as he talks

As a multidisciplinary artist, Jonathan O’Hear’s work is often experiential and technological.

In 2022 he founded the association de Malfaiteurs with Brice Catherin (an artistic collective of two plus their guests). In 2021 he founded and directed the AiiA festival with Laura Tocmacov (A festival focusing on the arts and culture of Artificial Intelligence). He also gives workshops around the world on the use of space and light as an artistic medium.

2/3 of Us

2/3 of Us – An ‘Indigenous-Eco-Futurist’ Lab.

Two-thirds of our body and this planet Earth is water.  “2/3 of Us” is an artistic collaborative, open-source initiative where Mo Diener and Wency Mendes work together across geographies and climates, indigenous and local communities, histories, knowledge systems and technologies.

“Our artistic imaginations find materialisation declaring an ‘Indigenous-Eco-Futurism’ by archiving, mapping, memories, embodiment and play. We propose an intersection of imagination, technology, future narratives, and resilience. It is an artistic aesthetic framework we propose where critical theory interacts with elements of oral histories and traditional knowledge, ecofeminism, caste and race as well as concepts of Punk and Futurisms, scientific, historical and speculative fiction connecting the Global South with the Global North. Our desire and hope is to create a vortex where creative energies and experiences of sharing and friendship can open up for a life-supporting futurity beyond hierarchies. We manifest, through texts, media and video, traditional artistic and creative imagery, sculptures, reconstructed glocal materials, soundscapes, performative choreographies and digital web-enabled interactivity.”

Portrait of a woman with '50 edition of roma culture 1971-2021' poster in the background

Mo Diener is a performance artist, choreographer, researcher and activist for Romani rights.

Her work investigates the perception and interconnection of body, mind and energies in various cultural contexts. Her practice is based on long-term research in civil, legal and historical archives as well as on oral history.

portrait of a man

A (documentary) filmmaker, Wenceslaus Mendes engages with video and technology in theatre and performance and conceptual and installation art projects.

His practice lies within indigenous and tribal communities through shared concerns of land and water, environment, sustainability and climate change; documenting practices, oral culture and processes of ethno-technologies.

Voices of An Archived Silence

A co-creation project led by Vera Ryser from Switzerland and Sandev Handy from Sri Lanka in conversation with the other members of the Studio for Memory Politics, ‘Voices from an Archived Silence’ considers projects and practices that deal with colonial archives and those that challenge the notion of the archive, by asking what silences sit within them. Each practitioner works with local artists and archives connecting them with other experts to support the development of research and the creation of artwork. During this time, they foster trans-local dialogues, hosting regular online meetings of participating practitioners, and present their research towards building a community of thinkers.

portrait of a woman

Vera Ryser is a curator based in Zurich, Switzerland. She engages with transdisciplinary projects between art, research and mediation.

Her work deals with decolonial practices, feminist resistances and migrant discourses and she strives to update these topics beyond the supposedly clear boundaries of practice and theory. Her previous work Voices from an Archived Silence is a research and exhibition project on Basel’s colonial history.

portrait of a man

Sandev Handy
is a curator, artist and art educator based in Colombo. His research and practice cross fugitive pedagogies, Afro-Asian world-building and networks
of solidarities, and botanical and bureaucratic naturalisms.

He serves
as Curator at the Museum
of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka, is one part of an artist collective called the Packet, and one part of an independent research studio, between Zurich, Makassar, Karachi and Colombo called the Studio for Memory Politics together with Vera Ryser, Angela Wittwer and Aziz Sohail.

Voices from an Archived Silence is a project by Studio for Memory Politics which consists of Sandev Handy (LK), Vera Ryser (CH), Sally Schonfeldt (CH/AUS),  Aziz Sohail (PK/AUS) and Angela Wittwer (IND/CH). Voices from an Archived Silence 2024-2025 is led by Sandev Handy and Vera Ryser in conversation with the other members of the Studio.

Intimate Borders of Liminal Love

In this self-curated process-oriented residency in the Swiss mountains, the three artists, Ipshita Maitra, Mara Züst and Habib Afsar, reside on their individual soul journeys at “the tavern of liminal love” for three weeks where they are confronted with themselves and the other. In particular, they take stock of all the baggage they have been carrying around till now. The exchange that follows forces them to take reckon of their artistic paths and, in this reflection and sharing, they explore the future together, with words, in photography and on walks. The artistic outputs of this exploration, The Intimate Borders of Liminal Love, is an artist book to be published in cooperation with Edition Haus am Gern and presented in Spring 2024 in Switzerland by the three artists, accompanied by different events.

portrait of a woman

Mara Züst’s artistic research focuses on print (printing techniques, book design and publishing), experimental art education and feminist art history – preferably intertwined with each other.

Artist, art mediator and author, Mara studied theory/visual communication and history and art history.

portrait of a man

Habib Afsar’s initial training as a medical doctor and subsequent specialisations in public health and health systems established his deep interest in health and wellbeing, research and participatory methodologies.

Art making was always his passion. A masters in Expressive Arts and an MFA in Art in Public Sphere finally allowed him to bring the two streams together.

portrait of a woman

Artist and film maker, Ipshita Maitra’s practice incorporates photography, film, print making and mixed media collages. 

She is interested in experimenting with form and has a deeply meditative working methodology which is based on laborious manual processes, that with intense repetition become portals to bring an ephemeral essence to her works.  With themes that are influenced by the landscape she occupies, they stem from a deep sense of loss and begin as photographic archival records to document the passing of a time – geographically & culturally. 

Keep coming back for updates on more Co-creation projects from South Asia.

More information

Applications for Co-creation projects can be submitted on an ongoing basis