Rooted in the people. Creating a community of practice
arvae creates spaces for true collaboration between the arts, science and local communities. It is all about creating the right atmosphere and taking the time to really get to know one another and each other’s passions and practices in order to discover synergies and then develop joint projects beyond institutional boundaries. We hold the space for an organic development of topics and projects across disciplines in close collaboration with the localities we work in.
Cultivating ground for authentic collaboration
Our work is deeply personal – rooted in the people and the knowledge, experiences and stories that shape their locality. Our pursuit of a sustainable future devotes us to permeate institutional boundaries and to connect and share knowledge from the arts, science and from the regional (environmental) experts (eg. farmers, agricultural landowners, forest managers or local tourism departments) at the sites of where we work.
Acting in local «Kollektivs»
arvaes core is the «Kollektiv» – an 8-month site-specific experiment in collaborative and transdisciplinary work, that results in joint projects combatting climate change on a local level. Beyond the «Kollektiv» we host our «am Tisch» dinners and develop public programs contributing to a broader dialogue and network between art and science.
At the core of arvaes work is the «Kollektiv» – an 8-month site-specific experiment in collaborative and transdisciplinary work, which is composed of 9-12 artists, scientists and local (environmental) experts upon invitation. Working in regions that are facing the effects of climate change, the «Kollektiv-members» jointly identify urgent topics together with the local community. arvae creates the conditions and the atmosphere needed to facilitate true and fair collaboration in 3 project phases (research phase, lab lhase, production phase).
We are driven by an open and transparent process of knowledge sharing and project development and we continuously evaluate the social, ecological and economic impact we are achieving in our host region and the impact we have on the way our «Kollektiv» members and their collaborators relate to transdisciplinary work.
«Am Tisch» is a curated dinner series taking place in intimate, informal settings and acting as a forum for (future) exchange with arvae’s transdisciplinary community Within, across, and between the arts and sciences. The format has the focus of connecting people, over food (for thought). This means intimate dinners in unexpected locations, for ca. 20 invited guests – always with an input from an artist or scientist from our community, then time for shared food and conversation.
For our first dinner in this series, we invited visual artist Paloma Ayala, who is also participating in our first «Kollektiv» in Arosa, to co-host the evening with us. Paloma foraged local ingredients and prepared the meal with her self-made oven, giving our guests a deeper insight into her decolonial cooking and artistic practice.
Project start in August 2021
The first «Kollektiv» commenced in August 2021 in Arosa, Switzerland. As we’ve learned from our partner Arosa Tourism, the municipality is facing some urgent environmental challenges, such as shifts in seasons, longer summers for itsit’s dependence on winter tourism or shifts in prevalent species in high altitudes. Therefore Arosa embraces the approach of the project to activate and fuel a broader public imagination around these topics. This in mind, the «Kollektiv» has already been up twice and gone through the research and lab phases.
In August 2021, the research phase of the Arosa «Kollektiv» took place. In this first step, the «Kollektiv-members» visited Arosa for 4 days and identified the needs, challenges, and opportunities for potential projects in close exchange with various local (environmental) experts. Here comes a huge shout-out to our wonderful local friends and collaborators who generously gave the «Kollektiv» insight into their work and passions in and for Arosa!
The research phase resulted in the identification of water systems, agriculture, local food production, and sustainable tourism as key topics to develop projects around.
Based on the information gathered in the research phase, the «Kollektiv» started developing specific project proposals addressing the selected topics. In order to advance the work on the proposals, the «Kollektiv-members» met for another 5 days in Arosa in September 2021. In this lab phase, the «Kollektiv» has largely organised their work themselves, setting their own priorities and workshops in our open space format. There were meetings held between «Kollektiv-members» and local (environmental) experts, we sat at a round table with Arosas major and the director of Arosa Tourism and we’ve had numerious work-sessions, gatherings and reflections together, further developing the project proposals. After this meeting in September, the «Kollektiv» worked on their project proposals for three more weeks.
A project advisory group made up of experienced members of our sounding board and network helped us then make a selection for implementation. These were by Name Monica Ursina Jäger, artist, lecturer and research associate at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, ZHAW, Pascal Jenny, President of Arosa Tourism, Yvonne Altmann, Mayor of Arosa, Farah Ahmed, Climate Justice Lead at Julies Bicycles, London, Lalasia Bialic-Murphy, Lead Scientist at Crowther Lab, ETH, Serayna Solanki, freelance consultant in climate, environment and community participation, London and Céline Oberle, “Organic” Lead at Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund.
From mid-November 2021 onwards, the chosen projects will be specified, produced, realised and, finally, evaluated. We look forward to sharing their plans and progress here soon.
What makes our «Kollektiv» strong is the expertise and passion of its members and their diversity in skills and characters. Meet the «Kollektiv» of artists, scientists and local (environmental) experts for arvae in Arosa:
Dr. Mark Anthony
Microbial biologist for Crowther Lab, ETH Zürich
Mark is a microbial ecologist and teacher from ETH Zürich. He researches how the diversity of soil microorganisms influences plant development and the sensitivities of ecosystems to global environmental changes. His main motivation to study fungi lies in the fact that many of these organisms form symbioses with plants via a relationship known as mycorrhizae and that the composition and diversity of fungi strongly affects forest ecosystems. Despite their importance in ecosystems, most fungi live in the soil and are invisible to the naked eye, and thus do not garner the same attention as plants and animals in conservation or restoration initiatives. Mark is passionate about making a convincing case for fungal conservation and research because fungi are the literal engines mediating nutrient cycles as decomposers and mycorrhizal symbionts, and we can better prepare for the future by understanding the ecology of fungi and explicitly incorporating them into environmental initiatives. He’s fascinated with Swiss forests because they are relatively highly managed and face many contemporary environmental challenges which will be exacerbated by climate change.
Anne Laure Franchette
Anne-Laure Franchette is a French artist with a background in Human Sciences. Her work deals with urban nature and the circulation of plants in relation to industrial materials. She is particularly interested in the intersections between botany and industry, wilderness and civilised world, authorised or sanctioned migration and spontaneous settlement. Since 2018, she has been part of the interdisciplinary research group TETI, which explores the textures and experiences of trans-industriality. She is also co-founder and artistic director of Volumes, a non-profit organisation founded in Zurich in 2013 to support local and international DIY facets of art publishing and introduce them to a wider audience in Switzerland.
Chemist, soapmaker and owner of the Seifenmacherei in Arosa
Beat is a pharmacist by formation and now runs the Seifenmacherei in Arosa. His soap manufacturing produces hand-made, natural shower soaps and is a family business. His mother is in charge of packaging and shipment across Switzerland, his father takes care of technical issues and is a cool crisis manager, and he runs the core business of the Seifenmacherei as the founder and is in charge of production and development.
Journalist for the Arosa Zeitung and deputy manager of the Güterschuppen restaurant in Arosa
Grown up in the eastern part of Switzerland, Bettina has been living in Arosa and working in gastronomy for the past four years. As a Deputy Manager at the Restaurant Güterschuppen she can follow her passion for food and enjoy the beautiful nature around the Schanfigg valley. A summer job in a mountain hut on 2300 m a.s.l. gave way to her wish to work in gastronomy after working at an international Grisons energy company and getting her bachelor’s degree in business administration and gained work experience in the areas of human resources development, marketing, sponsoring and events. In her spare time, she loves cooking with local and seasonal ingredients from the market or her parents’ garden.
PHD candidate at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zürich
Being a fond lover of nature and always having felt the urge to understand our impact on the environment and how everything in the ecosystem is connected and interacted, Nadine decided to study physical geography with focus on forests, ecology, and hydrology. While she mainly studied temperature forests during her studies, she now works in the tropical rainforests of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, investigating the effects of forest restoration on ecosystem functioning. Moreover, she’s also observing if the forest structure resulting from logging influences the hydrology cycle, and the special role of dung beetles on how the water infiltrates into the soil. Her work in forests has not only opened her eyes for their value and beauty, but it also constantly fascinates her anew.
Visual artist, Matamaros, Mexico
Paloma is a visual artist interested in empowering the relationship between domestic living strategies and political contexts. She is a diaspora mother and a mestiza daughter whose work fictionalizes historical, ecological or social problematics as means of analysis and critique. Paloma´s projects nourish visions of connection and dreams of emancipation. Her favorite spaces to work range from the kitchen to river shores, from international bridges to agricultural land, from community meeting points to aquelarre. Paloma’s work is rooted in her home, thelandscapes at the eastern border between Mexico and the US, and is now blooming in her current base in Zurich.
Arosa district forester
As district foresters in Arosa, Claudio is responsible for the sustainable maintenance and management of Arosa’s forest. The biggest challenges to his work is currently posed by increasing deer populations due to changes in climate and vegetation around Arosa, risks for alpine agriculture due to shifts in tree and forest lines, and current shocks to the international lumber market.
Arosa citizen since 1928 and storyteller
Ruth has lived in Arosa since 1928. Even though her birth place is Glarus, she is a true Arosa citizen. Really, there are probably few people who have more Arosa in them than she does. Not only has she spent her whole life in this wonderful place, some say her personality and life truly resemble this magical alpine town. Just by listening to her stories, you might feel sent to the past so vividly that you might even come out believing you had lived it yourself.
Forest scientist and Community Engagement Officer at Restor
Simeon has been working in the forest restoration sector for more than 10 years. He has been working with NGOs in many parts of the world, mostly in Uganda and Indonesia, implementing ecosystem restoration projects on the ground, and has represented the grassroots perspective at various international conferences. As the Community Engagement Officer at Restor, his responsibility is to build and grow the global restoration network, connecting actors from all over the world with themselves and with science.
Violeta (*1987) studied architecture in Mexico City and urban design in Berlin and Shanghai. She is currently working with Vogt Landscape Architects in Zurich, where she develops research and practice-oriented projects as part of the Case Studio. Apart from her experience in film and art production, she has also curated several cultural events as a member of her office and co-designed exhibitions from Los Angeles to Venice... She recently released a book called “Paradise Now. Die Neuen Grenzen des Gartens” co-written with Günther Vogt which investigates shifting ecosystems as a result of human activities and the thresholds that separate our notions of architecture and landscape.
Arosa’s fountain master
Bio pioneer from the Schanfigg valley
Evi runs the Biogarten Schanfigg, an organic garden located on a sunny south-facing slope, in Pagig, Schanfigg, with Hanspeter Mohler. In this mild mountain climate at 1300 meters above sea level, Evi and Hanspeter grow herbs, vegetables and food hemp in organic quality. The Biogarten Schanfigg values sustainable, ecological production and high product quality, working within the rhythm of nature and the seasons.
Before joining forces with Tara to start arvae, Alex leveraged her intercultural capacities building platforms and bridges for artists and designers who work with new technology and science. With an academic background in international relations, cultural management and cultural policy in urban development, she has always been interested in where the arts meet other sectors, disciplines and logics. She has dedicated her career to holding space for free artistic practices within these other structures and fostering understanding for the value of other disciplines collaborating with the arts. She has curated cultural content for tech and science platforms, facilitated collaborations between Swiss partners and American universities, and consulted art schools on their interdisciplinary teaching and internationalization strategies. She has also conceptualised and realised both physical and virtual exhibitions between art, science and technology. Furthermore, by facilitating programs for exchange on cultural entrepreneurship and mentoring cultural start-ups, she has developed a sense for the potential that lies between the arts and a market. She believes that we can most effectively make this world a better place by working together and that every fruitful collaboration starts and succeeds in honest human connection. This is what she strives to contribute to with arvae.
Tara is a producer and curator particularly interested in working on experimental, interdisciplinary, collective and non-institutional collaborations for diverse publics. Her practice-based experiences permeate institutions, manifesting in public spaces, off-spaces and open fields. She has produced artistic projects intersecting with climate science, communications, social and political activism and pedagogy. Tara has initiated numerous platforms for emerging artists to present their works to new audiences, mentored artists, organised public space interventions, curated festivals, summer schools and performance programs; and hosted artist residencies. She works closely with artists and collectives on land-based, decolonial and performative practices. Her research on the role art plays in an environmentally fragile context like Bangladesh was published as input for the OHCHR report on climate change, culture and cultural rights. Her focus on production while developing support systems and sustainable conditions for artists drives her current works.
Roman has his roots in art education with further academic training in design, communication science and history of photography. In addition to his work as a communication officer at arvae, he has been working for three years in the field of Knowledge Visualization at the Zurich University of the Arts. In scientific illustration, it is important to have a good understanding of both complex scientific issues and the reading habits and visual skills of the respective target audience, in order to translate them into effective visual content. This experience shapes his understanding of communication, which relies on the ability and willingness to constantly change perspectives. Against this background, Roman accompanies the transdisciplinary work of the «Kollektiv» in a mediating capacity. He is also responsible for the photographic documentation of arvae.
Local coordinator for arvae in Arosa
Tina is the third generation to run the charming, family-owned chalet hotel Sonnenhalde and hosted the members of the «Kollektiv» during their stay in Arosa. A passionate hotelier, she was born and raised in Arosa and – as she has discovered during several stays abroad – cannot imagine a more beautiful place to live. She shares her fascination for the beauty of Arosa and her attachment to the local culture to her guests with dedication and charm. Tina joined the arvae team as local coordinator of our first «Kollektiv» in Arosa, mediating between the local citizens and stakeholders, «Kollektiv» members and our team.
Farah Ahmed, Climate Justice Lead at Julies Bicycles, London
Prof. Tom Crowther, ecologist and founder of Crowther Lab, Zürich
Prof. Dr. Charlotte Grossiord, Group Leader of Plant Ecology Research Laboratory PERL (EPFL / WSL), Lausanne
Nicolas Henchoz, Director of EPFL + ECAL Lab, Lausanne
Monica Ursina Jäger, artist, lecturer and research associate, Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, ZHAW
Adrian Notz, AI + Art Curator, ETH AI Center
Dharmendra Prasad, artist, Nadaon
Christian Simm, Head of International Relations at University of Zürich
Serayna Solanki, freelance consultant in climate, environment and community participation, London
Migros Pioneer Fund
The Migros Pioneer Fund looks for and supports ideas with social potential. It enables pioneering projects that break new ground and seek out forward-looking solutions. Its impact-oriented funding approach combines financial support with coaching services. The Migros Pioneer Fund is part of the Migros Group’s social commitment and is enabled by the Migros Group with around CHF 15 million annually. For further information: www.migros-pionierfonds.ch
Crowther Lab is an interdisciplinary science lab at ETH Zurich. Their global research generates a better understanding of Earth’s ecology and inspires responsible ecosystem restoration. The team believes in conserving, protecting, and restoring nature to fight climate change and enhance human health and wellbeing. For further information: www.crowtherlab.com
As a destination management organization, Arosa Tourism represents the destination and its tourist facilities, offers and events to the outside world, including marketing for the mountain village. Arosa Tourism does its utmost to maintain the destination as a small paradise in the Grisons mountains for both locals and guests. For further information: www.arosalenzerheide.swiss