Speakers and Participants
Lamia Abi Azar
Performer and drama-therapist (Lebanon)
Lamia Abi Azar Lamia is a founding member of Zoukak Theatre Company. She acquired a degree in Clinical Psychology from St. Joseph University in Beirut (USJ) in 1999, and a degree in History & Practice of Arts, Music and Performance, with an emphasis on theatre from the Universita Degli Studi Dell’Aquila in Italy in 2004.
Performer and drama-therapist, since 2001 Lamia developed a personal approach to drama therapy through continuous experimentation and practice, based on two separate schools: experimental theatre and clinical psychology, applying theatre and art as tools of alternative expression, personal investigation and self-affirmation.
Since 2005, Lamia has been conducting a drama therapy laboratory with children with multiple psycho-physical handicaps at “Ghassan Kanafani rehabilitation pre-school”, Mar-Elias Palestinian camp, Beirut, she has also led different workshops and training sessions in theatre and drama therapy with children, adults and persons with special needs in diverse contexts.
From 2008 and until 2012 she led a laboratory of drama therapy with incarcerated youths at Roumieh jail, Lebanon. She was a drama instructor of Corporal Expression at the Institute of Psychomotricity, Saint Joseph University Beirut from 2008 till 2011.
From 2008 till 2009 she worked as a technical advisor for Handicap International on a psychosocial project in Palestinian camps in Lebanon.
Firas Abou Fakher
Composer and artist (Lebanon)
Firas Abou Fakher is an award-winning composer, producer and artist based in Beirut. He is one of the founders of Lebanese Indie pop band Mashrou’ Leila.
Firas’s work has explored themes of narrative and sound. He recently composed and designed the sound experience for AVRA, an experimental installation on sensory virtual reality. His composing credits include: Aziza (2020), Love (2019), La Poursuite (2019), Meshkal (2016) and others. As an artist working on Middle Eastern narratives Firas has conducted several talks in esteemed institutions around the world. He is currently developing the multimedia project Sonographies and composing for 2 upcoming feature films and several shorts.
Firas performed at The MET New York in July 2019 alongside British artist Oliver Beer and Mashrou’ Leila in the first sound performance commissioned by the Museum. He also participated in the opening performance at FIAC Paris in October 2019 alongside Oliver Beer, composing for 3 Sopranos and electronics.
With Mashrou’ Leila, Firas is the composer as well as the keyboardist, guitarist and bassist for the band, but he is also a producer and designer, and an integral part of the creative direction of the band’s striking visuals, set designs and sonic productions that have accompanied them to over 600 shows in the band’s decade long career.
Firas has been an artist in residence at NYU, artist in residence at Greenpeace, campaigning for the use of solar energy across the Mediterranean, and has participated in the BLOCK 9 & BANKSY Creative Retreat alongside Brian Eno, Roisin Murphy and more. He has held public talks with Fred Moten at NYU and with the Narcissist at Concordia, and has spoken at both the Sciences Po in Paris and the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.
Since 2018 Firas is a member of the Recording Academy, New York Chapter. In November 2019, Firas co-founded Last Floor Productions, a production house focused on telling original stories about contemporary Arab life in compelling, character- driven, genre fiction. With an aim to dispel preconceptions and bring a diverse range of Arab voices into the global entertainment industry.
Lubna Abou Kheir
Author and Actress (Syria/Switzerland)
Lubna Abou Kheir was born in Damaskus, Syria, where she studied dramatic writing at the Higher Institute for Dramatic Art. She came to Switzerland in 2016 as a scholar of the Watch & Talk residential project of the Theaterspektakel Zurich and participated, among others, in the writing workshop Our Voice/Our Hope at Schauspielhaus Zurich. Since then she lives in Switzerland and works as a freelance journalist. Between 2016 and 2017 she has written theatrical texts and was involved in various projects at the Schauspielhaus Zurich, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK), and Fabriktheater, Zurich. Her short play Damaszener Café was staged in 2018 at Tuchlaube Aarau, Kaserne Basel, and Theater Winkelwiese, Zurich. In 2019 she wrote the text for the play Gebrochenes Licht at Theater Neumarkt, Zurich. For Damaszener Café was mentioned in the yearbook of Theater heute as the best young author.Lubna Abou Kheir completed various internships and also worked as a secretary for the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). She also took several “Train the Trainers” courses in Beirut, Lebanon, with a focus on civil rights, human rights, and transitional justice.
Hermona Abraham Brahmi
Project Manager Drosos Foundation
Hermona Abraham Brahmi was appointed Project Manager for Jordan by the Drosos Foundation in 2019. Prior to this, she was Program Officer for the African Innovation Foundation, in which role she provided management and operational support to the Innovation Prize for Africa program. She has experience in numerous NGOs and Public-Private Partnerships, including the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in Switzerland. Hermona Abraham Brahmi holds an MA in International Public Management and Policy from the University of Geneva and Erasmus University of Rotterdam and a BA in Political Science from the University of Lausanne.
SDC/Swiss FDFA, Culture and Development (Switzerland)
Barbara Aebischer graduated with a Master of Advanced Studies in Arts Management at the University of Basel. After working in various other professional fields her interest turned to culture promotion, where she has gained a long-standing experience, especially supporting artists from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Since 2010 Barbara Aebischer is part of the team Culture and Development at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). She is co-responsible for managing SDC’s culture programme in Switzerland and for giving thematic advice to art and culture programmes abroad.
Mohamed Al Daradji
Filmmaker, Director Iraqi Independent Film Centre (Irak)
Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji studied in Iraq and the Netherlands before completing his Masters degree in Cinematography and Directing at the Northern Film School in Leeds, where he won the prestigious Kodak Student Commercial Award for Cinematography. In 2003, he returned to Iraq to make his first feature film, ‘Ahlaam’, which screened at more than 125 international film festivals and received more than 30 awards, as well as Academy Award and Golden Globe consideration. His multi-award-winning ‘Son of Babylon’ (2010) screened at Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Amnesty Film Award and the Peace Prize. Al-Daradji was named ‘Variety’ magazine’s Middle Eastern Filmmaker of the Year after his documentary ‘In My Mother’s Arms’ (2010) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Asia-Pacific Screen Academy Award for Best Documentary. ‘In the Sands of Babylon’ (2013) screened at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Arab Film. In 2018 his new film ‘The Journey’ became the first Iraqi film in 27 years to be released in the theaters of Iraq.
Honey Al Sayed
CEO Media and Arts for Peace (Syria/USA)
Honey Al Sayed is an award-winning independent media professional and creative social entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the United States. She broke new ground in Syria’s media scene with the #1 rated morning radio show for six years, and 7 million listeners, and dubbed by Rand Corporation, an influential U.S. Think Tank, as the “Oprah of Syria.” When the conflict escalated in Syria, Honey was forced to leave her homeland, arriving in the U.S. in 2012, making her a refugee twice in her lifetime. Since arriving in the U.S., she successfully co-founded an online radio station, SouriaLi, that reached 500,000 listeners in Syria and throughout the diaspora. Most recently, Honey founded MAP — Media and Arts for Peace — a women-owned creative social enterprise. MAP is an education and talent agency representing media and arts professionals from conflict zones and diasporas.
Organisation website: https://www.mediaartspeace.com/
Head Pro Helvetia Moscow (Russia)
Anna Arutyunova is Head of Pro Helvetia Moscow. She obtained her degree in History at the Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2007. Since then Anna worked as editor and writer for several art magazines, and as lecturer at ICA Moscow. An initial interest in the functioning of the art market brought her to a bigger discussion of the economy of arts. In 2015 she published a book “Art Market in XXI century: a space for artistic experiment” (now in its 3rd edition). Between 2012 and 2016 she has been working as curator, art manager, educator in Italy and UAE.
Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Florence Balthasar has been Head of International Affairs at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) since January 2019. As such, she is contributing to the development of the international strategy of ZHdK and is responsible for its implementation. Prior to that, Florence worked for seven years in Brussels at the Swiss Contact Office for European Research, Innovation and Education (SwissCore) as Advisor and then Co-Head of Office.
Culture Department City of Zurich (Switzerland)
Barbara Basting lives and works in Zurich. She studied Romance and German Languages and Literature as well as Philosophy at the University of Constance and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was a staff writer of the cultural magazine du, of Tages-Anzeiger, Zürich, as well as head of the culture team at radio DRS2/SRF2 Kultur. She now heads the division for visual arts at the Culture Department of the City of Zurich. From 2010-2019, she was member of the Board of the University of Zurich. She is also part of the advisory board of Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK). Participation in juries, contributions in art catalogues and other publications.
Dramaturg and researcher, Int. Institute of Political Murder (Germany/Switzerland)
Eva-Maria Bertschy, born 1982 in Düdingen (Switzerland), she studied sociology, economics and literature at the University of Fribourg. As a freelance dramaturg and production manager she has collaborated with Ersan Mondtag, Elia Rediger, Dorine Mokha, Gesine Danckwart, Hannah Hurtzig / Mobile Akademie Berlin among others. Since 2013 she has been a dramaturg and researcher for Milo Rau / International Institute of Political Murder. She participated in the creation of numerous plays, theatrical formats, the international documentary film project “The Congo Tribunal“, the award-winning theater production “The Repetition. Histoire(s) du théâtre (I)“ and currently „The New Gospel“ and „Antigone in the Amazon“.
UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights (Algeria/USA)
Karima Bennoune grew up in Algeria and the United States and is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law, where she teaches courses on human rights and international law. In 2015 she was appointed by the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights as the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.
Ms. Bennoune has worked in the field of human rights for more than 20 years, including with governments and non-governmental organisations, and has carried out field missions, trial observation, election observation and research in many regions of the world. She has also served as a consultant for UNESCO.
Karima Bennoune’s research and writing, including on cultural rights issues, has been widely published in leading journals and periodicals. She has received numerous awards, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize (2014) for her book, “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.”
Curator, art-manager (Ukraine)
Born in Donetsk, Diana Berg was relocated from her hometown to liberated Mariupol in 2014, due to the war in Eastern Ukraine. In Mariupol she founded the art platform “Tu”, which promotes human rights and freedom through arts and culture. She is a curator and art-manager of numerous Ukrainian art projects. As an artist, Diana uses public actionism, street theatre, installations and performance to address topics of critical thinking and human freedom, such as inequality, the border between public and private, memory and remembrance, countering stereotypes, and indifference.
Researcher, Curator, Lecturer Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Marcel Bleuler lives and works between Zurich and Salzburg, and is a practice-based researcher in the field of social art and cultural participation. He holds a PhD in history of contemporary art; currently he has a PostDoc position at the University of Salzburg, where he is head of the transdisciplinary artistic research lab of the programme area Contemporary Art and Cultural Production (part of the Focus Area W&K). Since 2014 Marcel Bleuler has collaborated with the Swiss peace-bulding organisation artasfoundation, and managed the exchange project off/line: what can art do in Zemo Nikozi? together with Georgian curator Lali Pertenava. Together with artasfoundation, he also developed the postgraduate programme Arts and International Cooperation, which he is co-directing together with Dagmar Reichert at the Zurich University of the Arts.
Author, musician, activist (Switzerland)
Born 1964 in Lucerne (Switzerland), Adi Blum lives and works in Bern (Switzerland).
He studied English, German and Philosophy at the University of Zurich and works as a freelance author, musician and organizer of cultural events. He is co-founder of “p&s”, “netzwerk kultur” and of the spoken word group “Bern ist überall“. He is coordinator of the Swiss German PEN Centre and manages its Writers in Exile –Program. He is an active member of the “Authors of Switzerland” and the Swiss Green Party. He has received various awards for his artistic work, including grants from the city and canton of Lucerne and the SSA scholarship for interdisciplinary work.
Co-founder and curator of the culture space & residency SKLAD (non-recognized state Abkhazia*)
Asida Butba lives and works in Sukhum/i and is co-founder and a curator at SKLAD, the first contemporary art initiative in Abkhazia*. In the 4 years of its existence, SKLAD has become a place through which international artists have engaged with the local context, a platform for the local artists to show and develop their work and a place for the local creative community to gather and engage in discussions. At the moment SKLAD is in the process of reshaping itself, with the aim of providing the best structure to support Sukhum/i’s creative minds in a context of scarce resources and international isolation.
Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart
Ambassador, Swiss Mission to OSCE and UN in Vienna (Switzerland)
Ambassador Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart is the head of the Swiss Delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the head of Switzerland’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the international organisations in Vienna.
From 2012 to 2018 he was the Assistant State Secretary and Director General of the Middle East and North Africa Division at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Before, Wolfgang Bruelhart served the Department as Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates. From 2003 to 2007, he was head of both the Human Rights Policy Section and the ‘Human Rights Council’ Task Force. From 1999 to 2002, he was Cultural Counsellor at the Swiss Embassy in London and from 1996 to 1998 he was Counsellor at the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo.
Prior to joining the Department of Foreign Affairs, from 1992 to1993 he worked in the Department of Home Affairs (Social Security, Health, Culture, Education, Sport and Environment) as Private Secretary to the Minister of Home Affairs, Flavio Cotti, and as Acting Press Spokesman for the Department. From 1987 to 1991, he was head of Studies and Planning at the General Secretariat of the Christian Democratic Party of Switzerland.
Born 1968 in Havana, Tania Bruguera lives and works in New York and Havana. She researches ways in which art can be applied to the everyday political life; focusing on the transformation of social affect into political effectiveness.
Her long-term projects have been intensive interventions on the institutional structure of collective memory, education and politics. She has been awarded an Honoris Causa by The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, selected as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, shortlisted for the #Index100 Freedom of Expression Award, and a Herb Alpert Award winner. In 2013 Tania Bruguera was part of the team creating the first document on artistic freedom and cultural rights with the United Nation’s Human Rights Council. In 2014, her passport was confiscated by the Cuban government for attempting to stage a performance about free speech. In May 2015, Tania Bruguera opened the Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt, in Havana. Her work was exhibited at Documenta 11, Venice Biennale, Tate Modern, Guggenheim and Van Abbemuseum, among others.
Art Historian, consultant (Switzerland)
Marianne Burki is currently the head of TaDa Textile and Design Alliance and working on various culture projects. She worked as Head of Visual Arts at the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia until the end of 2019. In this capacity she was accountable for the visual art funding policy in Switzerland and for international exchange in the visual arts, she was also responsible for the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and collaborated with Kochi Biennale and the Dhaka Art Summit. In 2018, she was appointed president of the Swiss Art Historian Association VKKS.
Marianne Burki was Director of the Kunsthaus Langenthal from 1999-2005, where she curated contemporary art exhibitions, and collaborated in projects on the interface between art, design and everyday culture. Marianne Burki worked as the project manager of the catalogue raisonné of the art works of Paul Klee at the Paul Klee Foundation from 1993 – 1996. She was a lecturer at various art and architecture schools and director of a film dedicated to the Swiss sculptress Mariann Grunder, 2003.
Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University (USA)
Cynthia Cohen leads action/reflection research projects and writes and teaches about work at the nexus of the arts, culture, justice and peace. She directed the Brandeis/Theatre Without Borders collaboration “Acting Together on the World Stage” and co-edited the Acting Together anthologies, documentary movie and toolkit. Cynthia Cohen has written extensively on the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of peacebuilding and directed an international fellowship program “Recasting Reconciliation through Culture and the Arts” which produced an anthology by that name. She also has worked as a dialogue facilitator, with communities in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Central America and the United States. Prior to her tenure at Brandeis, she directed a community-based, anti-racist oral history center in the Boston area. Most recently, Cynthia Cohen is engaged in the establishment of the “Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT)”, a worldwide, values-driven collaboration to design and activate strategies to strengthen the arts, culture and conflict transformation ecosystem.
Peacebilding Advisor (England)
Nicola Dahrendorf is a practitioner with nearly 30 years’ experience in conflict and post-conflict settings with INGOs, the United Nations, the UK government and in an academic capacity. Her overall professional focus has been on peace building and conflict resolution, protection of civilians and child protection, sexual and gender-based violence and on security sector and justice reform in fragile environments. Her past UN work involved six peacekeeping operations in senior management positions: CAR (2016-17), Haiti (2010-11), in DRC and Rwanda (1994, 1997, 2005-6, 2008-9), East Timor (1999-2001), Bosnia (1995-96) and Cambodia (1992-94). She has worked at UNICEF HQ as Chief of Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy and with UNHCR for seven years on refugee law and protection issues in conflict and post-conflict situations.
She has carried out policy and field-based assignments for the Norwegian Refugee Council as a Senior Protection Adviser, including most recently with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) (September 2019 – January 2020), in Somalia (2017). With the Swiss Development Corporation she worked on a study on the integration of protection and human rights into the humanitarian and development nexus in Mali (February – July 2019). For the UK Government Stabilisation Unit and DFID Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Department (between 2010-17) she worked in Kenya, Nigeria, DRC, South Sudan, Somalia and Nepal.
Nicola Dahrendorf has worked in academia with King’s College London and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck College, London University.
Geographically, she has in-depth knowledge of South East Asia, the Balkans, The Horn, Central and West Africa and the Caribbean (Haiti). She is fluent in English, French and German (mother tongue). Her academic background is in Social Anthropology and Law: Masters in Social Anthropology (Cambridge, UK), Diploma in Law and Bar (London), LLM, Masters in Law and Development (School of Oriental and African Studies, London). She lives in London.
Visual artist and journalist (Turkey/England)
Zehra Dogan was born in 1989 in Diyarbakir, Turkey. She graduated at the Dicle University’s Fine Arts Programme and is the co-founder of JINHA, the first all-women press agency, where she worked from 2010 to 2016, until JINHA was closed by the government. During the war in Iraq and Syria, she reported from both fronts and was one of the first journalists to give account of the Yezidi women who were enslaved by ISIS in northern Iraq. During the conflicts in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, Zera Dogan tried to report from Cizre and Nusaybin where the national government had imposed a curfew and journalists were banned. Following a trial, in March 2017 she was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months and 22 days under the charge of “terrorist propaganda” based on the articles she had written and one watercolour painting.
Her work was displayed in August 2016 in France at the Douarnenez Film Festival and at numerous exhibitions in Europe. In 2017, while waiting for her trial after her first detention, she organised an exhibition in Diyarbakir, entitled 141 (the number of days she spent in jail) presenting the paintings she had made in prison. 2017 she published Les Yeux grands ouverts, followed by her correspondence held during her detention, entitled Nous aurons aussi de beaux jours, in 2019. In 2018 she was appointed honorary member of PEN.
Basma El Husseiny
Cultular manager, activist. Action for Hope (Egypt/Lebanon)
Basma El Husseiny is a cultural manager and an activist who has been involved in supporting independent cultural projects and organizations in the Arab region for the past 30 years. Basma was previously the Media, Arts & Culture Program Officer for the Ford Foundation in the Middle East and North Africa, and the Arts Manager of the British Council in Egypt. In 2009, Basma co-authored the EU report: Towards a Strategy for Culture in the Mediterranean Region. Basma is a UNESCO expert in cultural governance and a member of the Arab Cultural Policy Group.
Basma El Husseiny founded in 2004 Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy), the Arab region’s leading independent cultural organization, and was its director until September 2014. In 2006 she also co-founded the Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC), and was a founding trustee until 2009.
In early 2015, Basma founded Action for Hope, a newly established organization that seeks to provide cultural relief and cultural development programs to communities in crisis, with a focus on refugees and impoverished communities.
Co-Managing Director artasfoundation (Switzerland)
Barbara Ellenberger was born 1964 in Zurich. She studied theatre directing at the Schauspiel Akademie Zürich (now ZHdK). Theatre pedagogue and dramaturge at the Schauspielhaus Zurich. Chief dramaturge and acting director at the Stadttheater Hildesheim. Since she was jointly responsible for the development of the so-called “Hildesheim Model”, a cooperative project between the municipal theatre, the independent scene and the University of Hildesheim, which became exemplary for the structural reform of the German theatre system. From 2007-2015 managing artistic director of the TAK Theater Liechtenstein. Under her direction, the TAK developed into an internationally renowned playhouse and Liechtenstein’s cultural centre. From 2015/16 to 2018 she was managing artistic director of the Miller’s Theater in Zurich. Further training in leadership, change management and solution-oriented coaching. Lecturer at the Universities of Design and Music and Theatre, Zurich (today ZHdK), at PH St. Gallen and Realschule Vaduz. Since September 2019 Managing Co-Director of artasfoundation – Swiss Foundation for Art in Regions of Conflict.
Swiss FDFA, Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Alexandre Fasel has been Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Kingdom since September 2017. In this capacity and during his earlier assignment as Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other International Organizations at Geneva (2012-2016) he has been convening conversation processes on art/artistic practice in peace mediation (in co-operation with artasfoundation) and on psychology in peace mediation. From 2007 to 2011, he was Assistant State Secretary for United Nations and International Organizations at Headquarters. Between 2004 and 2007 he was the Director of Policy Planning in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Earlier postings in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs include Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Switzerland in Australia and Personal Adviser to Minister of Foreign Affairs Flavio Cotti.
Alexandre Fasel is a lawyer. He studied at the Universities of Fribourg (Switzerland) and Oxford (United Kingdom). He is married with four children.
Research Coordinator Centre for Arts and Cultural Theory (ZKK), University of Zurich, and Project Manager artasfoundation (Switzerland)
Sandra Frimmel studied art history in Berlin and Sankt Petersburg. In 2007 she co-founded the project space Art Laboratory Berlin before working as curatorial assistant at Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein from 2008–2010. From 2011–2016 she was a research assistant in the project Art and Literature on Trial and from 2016–2019 in the project Performance Art in Eastern Europe (1950–1990): History and Theory, both at the Slavic Department of the University of Zurich. Since 2014 she is the research coordinator of the Centre for Arts and Cultural Theory (ZKK) at the University of Zurich and since 2019 works also as a project manager for artasfoundation, Zurich.
Her research interests are Russian art, art and power/law/society, postsoviet spaces. Publications include, as editor: Yuri Albert. Elitär-demokratische Kunst (Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, 2018); Kunst vor Gericht. Ästhetische Debatten im Gerichtssaal (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2018); as author: Kunsturteile. Gerichtsprozesse gegen Kunst, Künstler und Kuratoren in Russland nach der Perestroika (Cologne: Böhlau, 2015). Sandra Frimmel also translated Victora Lomaskos Graphic reportages from Russian to German (Victoria Lomasko: Eine Reise nach Dagestan, exhib.-cat. Cartoonmuseum Basel, ed. by Anette Gehrig; Victoria Lomasko: Die Unsichtbaren und die Zornigen, Zurich: Diaphanes 2018; Wiktoria Lomasko, Anton Nikolajew: Verbotene Kunst, Eine Moskauer Ausstellung, Berlin: Matthes und Seitz 2013).
Assistant Director General and Head of Global Cooperation at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC (Switzerland)
Ambassador Christian Frutiger was born in 1966 in Ringgenberg (Canton Bern). He holds a diploma in translation (German/French/English), a BA in Russian, English and Political Science and an Executive Master of Science in Communications Management. He joined the Federal Administration in 2019, having previously worked in the private sector and having gained extensive experience internationally in the social, humanitarian and development fields, working primarily for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Nestlé.
He joined Nestlé in 2007, where he was appointed public affairs manager covering human rights, water rights and multilateral relations. He was promoted to deputy head of public affairs in 2012 and vice president and global head of public affairs for the Nestlé Group in 2016.
Between 1994 and 1999 Christian Frutiger carried out field missions on behalf of the ICRC. In 2000, on his return to Switzerland, he was appointed deputy head of operations for Eastern Europe and CIS before becoming head of unit within the External Resources Division.
Managing director UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development, Hildesheim (Germany)
Dr. Daniel Gad is a cultural policy researcher and managing director of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development at University of Hildesheim since 2012. He is head of the Arts Rights Justice Programme and member of the consulting committee of the Martin Roth-Initiative. Since 2017 he is representing the University of Hildesheim at the Steering Committee of Hildesheim’s approach to become European Cultural Capital 2025. In 2014 he had been the head of management of the VIII. International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR2014). Since 2014 he is member of The International Journal of Cultural Policy’s list of reviewers. He had been member of the Cultural Policy Task Group of the Panafrican Arterial Network. Since 2014 he is member of the U40 Network “Cultural Diversity 2030” (coordinated by IFCCD and the German Commission for UNESCO). In 2013 he finalized his PhD entitled “The Art of Development Cooperation. Concepts and Programs of a Foreign Cultural Policy of the Nordic Countries” consulted by Wolfgang Schneider. In the years before he had been freelance consultant of the German Development Service (DED), Goethe-Institut, Heinrich-Boell-Foundation and Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa). He is musician and photographer.
Head of the International Office, Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Bettina Ganz has been head of the International Office at ZHdK for over 20 years and is thus responsible for the university’s mobility programs and the associated cooperation with over 150 partner universities worldwide. She is a member of the Dossier Commission International and is involved in various projects of the university.
Before that Bettina worked for 6 years at the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). She was responsible for environmental education in extracurricular activities throughout Switzerland.
Visual artist (Switzerland)
Born 1967 in Zurich, Haimo Ganz lives and works in Basel. In his artistic work he deals with installations. He has realized numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, some of them in close collaboration with Martin Blum and Bruno Steiner.
Visual artist (Switzerland)
Born 1974 in Uri, Iris Ganz lives and works in Basel. In her artistic work she realises videos, installations and performances. Since 2011 she teaches art at the FHNW HGK.
Senior Advisor Conflict Transformation at Helvetas (Switzerland)
Regula Gattiker studied Political Science, International Public Law, Arts Management and Mediation. She has gained multi-country work experience in development since 2000 and has dedicated herself to conflict transformation, conflict sensitivity and culture since 2003. In 2015, she joined Helvetas as Senior Advisor in Conflict Transformation.
She is an advisory board member of the Centre for Peacebuilding and a board member of Peace Watch Switzerland.
Director Pro Helvetia Johannesburg
Joseph Gaylard is a researcher and arts manager with a background in training, curating and policy research, with a particular interest in the rethinking of institutional and cultural/organisational forms and approaches. He was a member of the Joubert Park Project collective operating in the inner city of Johannesburg before becoming the Director of the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA), an independent informational network and development agency supporting contemporary art practice in South Africa. He is presently the Head of the Johannesburg office of Pro Helvetia, covering the Southern African region. He has a BA Fine Art and BA History of Art Honours degree from the University of Cape Town.
Former Director General of ICRC, Board member of artasfoundation (Switzerland)
Angelo Gnädinger was the special representative for the South Caucasus of the OSCE-Chairperson-in-Office. Prior to that, he was director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross and interim executive director at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Head Department Levant, Drosos Foundation (Switzerland)
Born 1968 in Basel, Carole Guertler lives and works in Zurich. She joined Drosos Foundation in 2009, and has been the Head of the Department Levant since 2013. She is currently in charge of Jordan and Lebanon and closely follows the transformation of the civil societies through an important network of around 35 partners in both countries. She participates actively in their role as actors of change by supporting them with the implementation of projects that address social challenges. The support for the arts and culture through institutional development and the promotion of an entrepreneurial spirit play an important part in her work.
Cultural Manager, AFAC (Lebanon)
Heba Hage is a senior programme manager at AFAC, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture. There she is responsible for institutional development and the overall management of new initiatives and programs. She has twenty years of experience in development and institutional capacity building. Heba worked with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs for ten years – first at headquarters in Bern between 2006 and 2011, supporting humanitarian aid and development efforts in the Middle East, and then as director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Lebanon (2011-2016). Her work experience between 1996 and 2006 covered initiatives in peace building, youth and community initiatives, production of knowledge resources, as well as eco-tourism. She worked with diverse local and international organisations such as Search for Common Ground in Washington DC and in Jordan, Save the Children in Lebanon, Arab Resource Collective in Lebanon, and UNOPS in Geneva supporting a peace building program in Rwanda, as well as being a co-founder and volunteer coordinator of Mada, a local NGO in Lebanon. She has conducted independent consultancy work with UN and international donor agencies. Heba has a Master’s degree in International Conflict and Peace Studies (University of Notre Dame, Indiana), and a Bachelor’s in International Affairs (Lebanese American University, Byblos). Heba was born in Ghana, raised in West Africa and has lived in several countries. She is fond of discovering diverse artistic works from the region and internationally and personally enjoys writing and visual storytelling.
Hanane Hajj Ali
Actor, artivist, consultant (Lebanon)
Hanane Hajj Ali is an artist, activist, researcher, consultant, and trainer. She is a member of the expert group of the 2005 “UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions”.
Beside her renowned activity as an actress, writer, and director since 1978, Hanane Hajj Ali is a founder and board member of several cultural institutions and artistic organizations in the Arab world such as “Culture Resource – Al Mawred Athaqafy”, “Action For Hope”, and “Ettijahat, Independent Culture”. She has been participating in the design, elaboration, implementing and monitoring of several regional and national programs of cultural management, cultural leadership, and cultural policies. She is a member of the Arab cultural policy group. She edited and wrote books and guides in cultural and artistic research, cultural management, and cultural policies.
Throughout her 40-year artistic career, Hanane Hajj Ali has written, performed and directed acclaimed Arabic-language productions and also facilitated and supported hundreds of colleagues, students and communities in Lebanon and throughout the entire MENA region. Her artistic career started as a founding member of Hakawati/Storytellers Theater in 1978, the Arab world’s pioneering experiment in socially engaged community led theate, where she was an actor and writer until 1992. In 1999, she co-founded Shams Association which bridges the sectarian divides of Lebanese society and brings together young artists from different backgrounds. “Jogging”, her most recent solo piece, is a “partly autobiographical and taboo-breaking performance that tackles the Bermuda triangle of Religion, Sex, and Politics” which has toured throughout the MENA region, Europe and North America.
Trainer and strategy advisor, Zoukak Theatre Company (Lebanon)
Mohamad Hamdan studied Mathematical engineering at the Institut National Des Sciences Appliquées in France (2001). He then joined Murex, a worldwide leader in financial software between 2001 and 2013, in France, UAE and Lebanon, managing projects and clients’ relationships.
In 2013, Mohamad completed a course on ‘Leadership, Organizing and Action’ delivered by Harvard University followed by ‘Train the Trainer’, delivered by CIPD, in the UK. He then started designing and delivering training programs and consultancy services in communication, client care, leadership, social organizing and cultural management. Since 2016, he followed trainings in Non Violent Communication (including a 10-day intensive retreat) adding to his skills a new set of techniques.
Head of the Department of Fine Arts and Chair of the Dossier International Relationships at the Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Swetlana Heger was born in 1968 in the Czech Republic and grew up in Bregenz in Austria. She studied Fine Arts at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and subsequently completed postgraduate studies at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo. After finishing her residence in Japan, Swetlana Heger lived and worked in the USA, where she started her artistic career with a focus on Conceptual Art.
For over twenty years she has exhibited in numerous international museums, galleries and institutions such as the Musée des Beaux Arts/Nancy, Le Consortium/Dijon, Wiener Secession, Melbourne Biennale, Berlin Biennale, Centre Georges Pompidou/Paris, Arts Space/New York, Centre National de la Photographie/Paris, Moderna Museet/Stockholm, Hamburger Bahnhof/Berlin, manifesta11, Zurich, Antarctic Pavillon, 57th Venice Biennale etc.. Her artistic works are represented in public and private collections worldwide.
From 2012 to 2017, Swetlana Heger-Davis taught as Professor of Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts at Umeå University in Sweden, and served as Pro Rector and Rector from 2014 to 2017. In August 2017, she was elected as the Head of the Department of Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and as one of the members of the university’s leadership group. Since August 2018, she is also the Chair of the Dossier International Relationships at ZHdK.
Cultural manager in the South Caucasus Region (Georgia)
Tamar Janashia lives and works in Tbilisi where she currently serves as a project coordinator of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial. Holder of MBA from the University of Maine, Orono and BA from the Tbilisi State University in classical philology is founder and executive director of the non-governmental organization Culture and Management Lab (CML), which is active in the realms of arts management, cultural exchange, cultural policy and strategic development of creative industries in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. From 2012 until 2017 she worked as a general administrator of the Regional Art and Culture Program in the South Caucasus for the Swiss Cooperation Office, in 2010-2018 was a CEO of the Business Initiative for Reforms in Georgia (BIRG) – local partner institute of the World Economic Forum. At various times she has been employed as a development consultant at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, deputy director of the library of the Ilia State University and director of the electronic music festival SOU.
As a free-lance business consultant Ms. Janashia provides her services to various local and international organizations, academic institutions and private companies in the fields of general management, project management and development. In 2018-2019 she worked as an invited project coordinator in charge of the training of cultural managers from the Central Asian countries (organized by the Goethe Institut Tashkent, Uzbekistan).
Actor and Theatre director (Switzerland)
Born in Germany, Anina Jendreykoworks and lives in the Kurdish regions, in Greece, Germany and Switzerland. She studied in Berlin at the UDK and works as an actress, theatre director and lecturer. In her artistic work she addresses questions of identity, society, transculturality and power relations. In addition to theatre productions, she works with the tools of theatre in national and international conflict- and crisis areas, especially in the Middle East. Currently she has developed a play about and with Yezidi women from and in Shengal/ Northern Iraq about their self-empowerment and the liberation process.
Art historian, curator (Georgia)
Irine Jorjadze lives and works in Tbilisi. She holds phD in Art History and Theory from Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and works as a curator and an Art Education Consultant. Irine Jorjadze curated and co-curated several art festivals and exhibitions, among others the Tskaltubo Art Festival (Georgia), the exhibition “Shindisi 16” at theKunsthalle Zurich, or the exhibition “DADA Georgia” at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. She is a co-editor of the periodical zine “Danarti”.
Researcher, Swiss FDFA (Switzerland)
Isabel Käser leads the project ‘Art in Peace Mediation’ at the Swiss Embassy in London, for which she is looking into ways cultural and artistic production can aid in processes of conflict resolution. She is also a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS in London, where she gained her PhD. Her thesis with the title Militant Femininity: The Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Movement Between Violence and Resistance is a transnational analysis of patterns and processes of female mobilisation, organisation, and education in the activist, political and armed spheres of the PKK. She is currently a guest lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Berne, and involved in a number of non-governmental organisations in Iraqi Kurdistan, such as Culture Project, a platform for Kurdish feminist writers, artists and activists.
Born 1975 in Lohja (Finland), Tellervo Kalleinen lives in Helsinki. Her art bases on creative collaboration with participants and other artists. Together with Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen she created the Complaints Choir concept, which has spread to more than 200 cities around the world as an open source concept. They have made several participatory cinema works, which have been exhibited in venues such as Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), P.S.1 (New York), Shedhalle (Zürich) and Ars Electronica Center (Linz). Currently they are working on a common ground park in Rauma, Finland. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen won the prestigious Ars Fennica award in 2014.
Visual artist and performer (Turkey/Switzerland)
Eren Karakus was born in the Kurdish city Diyarbakir in the southeast of Turkey in 1984. He was active as an actor and took on various roles at the city theater from 2005. From 2008 to 2012 he studied at the art academy in Mugla, in the West of the country. He then returned to Diyarbakir and worked as a freelance sculptor, painter, actor, stage designer, film maker and photographer. He began his master’s degree in Transdisciplinarity at the ZHdK in 2017. He works experimentally – including photography, video, performance, image and installation.
Visual artist (Russia)
Victoria Lomasko graduated from Moscow State University of Printing Arts in 2003, with a degree in graphic art and book design. She works as a graphic artist with a focus on graphic reportage. Drawing on Russian traditions of documentary graphic art, Lomasko explores contemporary Russian society. Her work has appeared in mainstream print publications in Russia and abroad, and exhibitions in Russia and throughout Europe. Her book “Other Russias”, a collection of graphic reportages, was published in the U.S. by n+1 and the U.K. by Penguin. In the past few years mural-making has become a central facet of her practice.
Performance artist and activist (Russia)
Born 1986 in Novosibirsk (Russia). Artem Loskutov lives and works in Moscow and Novosibirsk. He is well-known throughout Russia as the founder of the unique May Day happening Monstration. The goal of a Monstration is to shake up a usual political procession with humorous and absurd signs and slogans. In 2004, Loskutov and other members of the group CAT (Contemporary Art Terrorism) organised the first May Day happening Monstration in Novosibirsk. In 2007, after the breakup of CAT, he founded the group “Kiss My Babushka”, of which he was a member until 2014. Since 2012, he has been a member of the working group of the MediaImpact Festival of Activist Art. He was awarded the Innovation Prize, the Russian Contemporary Visual Art Award, for Monstration in 2010.
Artistic Director Theater Kaserne Basel and Theaterfestival Basel (Switzerland)
Sandro Lunin lives and works in Basel. He began his carrier as assistant director in Theater am Neumarkt. In 1889 he became a co-director of the Theatre Rote Fabrik and in 1992 he founded the festival Blickfelder – Theater for Young Audience in Zurich. Later he worked for more than ten years as a co-director of the independent Schlachthaus Theater Bern, where he curated a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Between 2008 and 2017 Sandro Lunin was the artistic director of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel and set new accents with a strong focus on urban contemporary theater- and dance productions from the world’s South. Since September 2018 he is the artistic director of Kaserne Basel.
Project Manager, Drosos Foundation
Letizia Mantoan was appointed Project Manager for Lebanon by the Drosos Foundation in 2019. As Programme Manager in South Sudan for Nonviolent Peaceforce since 2017, she focused on community-based protection interventions in emergency response contexts. Previous experience includes working for international humanitarian organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and the Danish Refugee Council, mostly covering the Middle East region (Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon). She also worked for the European Commission’s Directorate for Humanitarian Aid in Brussels. She has being awarded an MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BScEcon in European Union Politics from Cardiff University.
Senior Policy Advisor to the Global Program Water (GPW) and the Focal Point of the SDC Water Network at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (Switzerland)
Daniel Maselli runs a global network of experts in water issues of over 500 members. He has initiated and steered the transformation of the SDC ‘Climate, Environment and Disaster Risk Integration Guidance’ (CEDRIG) into a user-friendly open access online tool. SDC uses this tool to mainstream climate change, environment and disaster risk reduction into strategies, policies, programs and projects. Daniel has also launched and supported a number of art related initiatives such as the Sustainable Mountain Art (SMArt) project, run by the ‘Fondation pour le développement durable des régions de montagne’ (FDDM, Canton of Valais).
Prior to joining SDC in 2009 after 7 years of unpaid leave he worked extensively on natural resource management – particularly in semi-arid mountain ecosystems and lectured at the Universities of Bern, Vienna and Bishkek.
Community artist, writer and researcher (England)
Between 1979 and 1994 François Matarasso worked in theatre and visual art with communities in London and the East Midlands. He subsequently began to explore the theory, experience and outcomes of people’s participation in art through research, in publications like “Use or Ornament? ” (1997). His work has been widely published and translated. He has served as trustee of NESTA, Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation and held honorary professorships in the UK and Australia. François Matarasso continues to combine community arts practice with research and consultancy, and has worked in about 40 countries, from Colombia to Kyrgyzstan. Between 2011 and 2015 he produced a series of short books on undervalued areas of cultural life under the collective title “Regular Marvels”. His latest book “A Restless Art – How participation won and why it matters”, was published by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2019.
Thomas D. Meier
President of Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Thomas D. Meier was born in 1958, in Switzerland. After his university studies, he worked on the management team of the Historical Museum of Bern. From 1996 to 2003, he served as Founding Director of the Museum of Communication in Bern, before being appointed Founding Director of Bern University of the Arts in 2003. He was being elected President of Zurich University of the Arts in 2008. He is currently serving his third term of office. Among various other appointments Thomas D. Meier served from 2014 to 2018 as President of the European League of Institutes of the Arts, the major association of European art schools.
Writer and lawyer (Eritrea/Switzerland)
Dr. Daniel Mekonnen is a Founding Member of PEN Eritrea in Exile. He is the first recipient of Swiss-German PEN Centre’s (DSPZ) fellowship for persecuted writers (2015-2017). A Fellow of the African Studies Centre (ASC) at Leiden University, Daniel also serves as the Director of the Eritrean Law Society (ELS). Previously, he was (among other things) a Senior Legal Advisor at the Oslo-based International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) and Judge of the Central Provincial Court in Eritrea. He is the co-editor of Uncensored Voices: Essays, Poems and Art Works by Exiled Eritreans (2017), a joint publication of DSPZ, PEN Austria and PEN Eritrea. Daniel lives with his family in Geneva, where he works as an Independent Consultant majoring in International Human Rights Law, Forced Migration, and Global Peace and Security.
Theatre-director, Professor (Serbia)
Dijana Miloševic was born 1961 in Belgrade and lives and works in Belgrade. She is the Co-Founder and Director of the DAH Theater Research Center in Belgrade and a Professor at the IUI Institute for the Modern Dance in Belgrade.
Dijana Miloševic graduated at the Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation of the University of Belgrade and at its Faculty of Dramatic Arts – Department of Theatre Directing. She was president of the Association of Independent Theaters in Belgrade and member of ITI board in Serbia and founded and co-leads educational programs within DAH Theatre Research Center – International Institute for Actors and Directors. Currently she collaborates with Theatre without Borders and Acting Together on the World Stage and the peacebuilding network “IMPACT”.
Dijana Miloševic collaborates with peace activist groups such as Women in Black and Act Women in Serbia. She directs theatre performances, writes about theatre and society, and holds workshops and lectures world-wide.
Researcher, Luzern School of Art and Design (Switzerland)
Dr. Bettina Minder is design researcher with the “Competence Centre Design and Management“ at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland. Her research focuses on social design and collaborative innovation processes. In one of her recent research projects she collaborated with the Community of Emmen and two primary school classes to explore the value of design approaches for schools. She is core team member of the university’s future laboratory CreaLab, where she is responsible for concept and moderation of workshops for the Lucerne Future Forum and for the CreationLab Summer School. Bettina is a graphic designer, she holds an MA in Slavic Studies, Film and German Literature from the Zurich University (2005) and a doctoral degree from the Aalborg University, Denmark (2018).
Head of Pro Helvetia New Delhi (India)
Akshay Pathak was born 1982 in Bikaner (India). Since 2017 he is the Head of Pro Helvetia New Delhi (India). From 2003, he was variously employed in research and management at the India Habitat Centre New Delhi, Biennale Bonn, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi, Pro Helvetia New Delhi,Theater Kampnagel Hamburg, Khoj International Artists’ Association and the National School of Drama. Akshay Pathak was founding director of the German Book Office, New Delhi, an office of the Frankfurter Buchmesse and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. He has written for several local and international publications, on issues of politics and culture and directed a play „One by One“ at Adhishakti Theatre Arts, Pondicherry. Since 2013 he is a consultant on varied projects for organizations such as the Azim Premji University, Bangalore; Bookazine, USA; Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute, USA, among others.
Campaigns and Advocacy Manager Freemuse (Denmark)
Sverre Pedersen is educated as a social worker and sociologist, but has worked as a film maker since 1985 and as the president of Norwegian Film Makers Association from 2005 to 2019. He has made documentary film around the globe, mainly focusing on human right related issues. He is a board member of FERA, the federation of European Film Directors. Sverre Pedersen joined Freemuse as the Campaign and Advocacy Manager in August 2019. He has been an Amnesty International activist for many years, and has also been active in environmental and solidarity work.
Executive Director Freemuse (Denmark)
Dr Srirak Plipat is the Executive Director of Freemuse where he devises a comprehensive approach to defend artistic freedom and cultural expression through research, advocacy and policy influencing, working with local and international partners.
Previously Srirak was regional director for Asia Pacific at Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), where he managed TI’s strategy, research and advocacy programmes on civil participation, transparency and accountable governance.
Srirak was a Director at Amnesty International (AI) in London, responsible for AI’s global mobilisation strategy, worldwide human rights activist coordination, youth and activism, capacity and organisational development for AI national offices. He managed AI operations and regional projects in over 15 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. As Executive Director of AI in Thailand, he campaigned on various human rights issues in Asia, served as a member of the Working Group for the Establishment of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms, and co-founded the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) Network in Thailand. Srirak served as a consultant for the World Bank Institute in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Before joining AI, Srirak was a documentary film producer and writer with the debut “One More to Freedom” series broadcasted on TV5 Thailand. The documentary tells stories of women, men and children affected by social injustice, including homelessness, forced evictions, human trafficking, prostitution, drugs, and people living with HIV/AIDS and disabilities. For six years he worked as a creative director, leading a team of 18 art directors, graphic designers, visualizers and creative writers for a creative company. From Kingscote South Australia to Heatherley School of Fine Arts in London Srirak studied fine arts and music. He loves sculpting and plays the cello.
Managing Director artasfoundation, Lecturer Zürich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Dagmar Reichert, born 1957 in Vienna, lives in Zurich. She studied Sports, Geography and Philosophy in Vienna and Toronto, held research fellowships in Stockholm and Cambridge, and worked as visiting professor at the University of Bologna, the University of Salzburg and the ETH Zürich. From 2003 onwards, she was full professor for Cultural Geography at University Kassel and resigned early in 2006. At present she teaches cultural theory at the Zürich University of the Arts and is, together with Barbara Ellenberger, the managing director of the Swiss artasfoundation, a cultural foundation which she initiated in 2011.
Photographer and project manager (Switzerland)
SDC regional office, Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Makhbuba Saidakhmedova is a sociologist and she has recently completed the Executive Master on Development Policies and Practices in Geneva, where her thesis was focused on the influence of the institutional environment on the development of Performing Art in Uzbekistan. As professional background, she has 13 years’ experience in Development sector. From 2006 until 2014, she worked as project coordinator at the Regional office of DVV International in Uzbekistan (Institute for International Cooperation of the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband e.V. (DVV)). There the general scope of work consisted of the management of the variety of projects with NGOs and initiative groups on such social directions as Adult education in penal system, HIV prevention, gender, inclusive education, eco-tourism, history & identity subjects and in general promoting of human right to education and lifelong learning concept. Since 2014, she has been working at the Embassy of Switzerland in Uzbekistan implementing regional culture program, where the main task is to support wider independent art and culture players to improve creative artistic expressions, to increase diversity of culture scene and to make their voices stronger.
Performing artist (Spain/Switzerland)
Born in 1980 in Barcelona (Spain), he has been teaching and performing as a dancer internationally (China, Russia, Spain, Holland, France and Switzerland).
After studying Physical Education, Manel Salas started his artistic career as a teacher, dancer and choreographer of Hip-Hop in Barcelona. Since then he is dancing and teaching as a freelancer with more than 26 productions in different countries. He collaborated with Metros of Ramon Oller, the flamenco company Color, with Amy Raymond, an ex Forsythe dancer, and with Cobosmika dance company. As a performance artist he discovered and studied mime, theatre, improvisation, Butho, and acrobatics. In that, he collaborated with Chinese Paper Tiger theatre company, Julyen Hamilton, Angels Margarit, David Zambrano, Editta Braun company, Arno Schuitemaker, Vloeistof, Jens Biederman, Jasmine Morand, Oliver Dahler, and Corsing Gaudez.
In 2008 Manel Salas graduated from Codarts, the conservatory of the Rotterdam Dance Academy.
Prof. of Slavic Studies, Zurich University (Switzerland)
Sylvia Sasse is a professor of Slavic studies at the University of Zurich and co-founder of the ZKK (Centre for Arts and Cultural Theory). She is a member of ZGW (Center “History of Knowledge”), and co-editor of the web-journal “Geschichte der Gegenwart”.
Professor at Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Born 1979 in Stuttgart, Jörg Scheller lives in Bern. He is an art historian, journalist and musician. He is senior lecturer and head of theory of the BA Art & Media at the Zurich University of the Arts. Jörg Scheller has published widely on visual art and popular culture, politics and aesthetics, physical culture and postmodernism. Besides, he is contributing editor of frieze magazine, London, and runs a heavy metal delivery service with the heavy metal duo MALMZEIT. Most recent book publications: Metalmorphosen (Stuttgart 2020), Appetite for the Magnificent. On Aquaria (Zurich 2017, with photographs by David & Tania Willen).
Artist, cultural manager, activist (Switzerland)
Martin Schick is an artist, cultural manager and activist who currently lives and works mainly in Switzerland. As a trained performer at the Hochschule der Künste in Bern, he has been creating scenic works and free projects in the field of dance and performance since 2007. Institutional practice – sometimes the building of fantastic institutions – has become his passion. In 2019 he received the Liechti Prize for his work.
Dancer, choreographer, teacher, networker (Switzerland)
Meret Schlegel lives in Zurich and has a long and distinguished career in dance both on stage and as a choreographer and art-manager. After her training as a dancer and teacher, she started working across Europe and the US, and also worked in the management of many cultural institutions in Zürich. Since 2011 she is back on stage creating her own work and collaborating with younger dancers.
Meret Schlegel is the co-founder of Cie zeitSprung, a dance company which not only dances on stage but tries to bring dance and movement to people of all ages and interests. In 2015, Meret Schlegel received the Swiss Dance Award for her joint work with Kilian Haselbeck.
Performance artist/teacher (Switzerland)
Dorothea Schürch lives and works in Bern. Since the 1980s she has been working internationally as a performer in the fields of music, theatre and performance art. In her artistic practices she puts focus on the voice. As part of the SNF research project „Écoute élagie“, she is writing her PhD thesis “Empty voices, pre- and postlingual transformation processes of the voice” on avant-garde vocal practices of the 1950s. In this context she developed her own research method called Audioscoring. Dorothea Schürch teaches at the Bern University of the Arts. Her work has received numerous awards
Feminist, art-activist, actionist, journalist (Russia)
Daria Serenko was born 1993, lives and works in Moscow. She is a feminist, art-activist, actionist, journalist, and curator of the gallery Peresvetov Pereulok in Moscow.
Daria studies and creates communicative situations between people in urban space, and moderates conversations about discrimination in Russia. She is an initiator of “#quietprotest” and of “The gallery in the building’s entrance”, and the curator of the art laboratory for teens “PS 18-“. Since 2018 Daria Serenko teaches at the School of Cultural Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. She writes for the Russian portals “Takie dela”, “Lenta.ru” and others. In 2017 she published the poetry book “Silence in the Library” (Argo-risk).
Firas Shamsan is active in the field of arts and culture for more than thirteen years and also is active as a social media content creator. He worked for several news agencies, e.g. Voice of America, Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), and Al Arabia, as well as for private Yemeni TV channels. Firas Shamsan develped concepts for Yemeni magazines and newspapers focusing on youth culture and is presently focusing on giving young artists in Yemen a media platform (fantime.net) to express their creativity and identity.
Head Continuing Education Centre of the Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Regula Stibi studied piano with Werner Bärtschi and Erna Ronca in Zurich, second master in music- and concert education at the Detmold University of Music.
1994, 1998/99 and 2003 scholarships at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and at the London studio of the Aargauer Kuratorium. Focus on music education and contemporary trends in concert pedagogy. 2007 Award for her artistic work.
Work: Concerts and chamber music/music theatre projects in the field of contemporary music, often transdisciplinary. Music education projects for various institutions. Head of the MAS in Music and Concert education at the Zurich University of the Arts until 2010.
Head Pro Helvetia Cairo (Egypt)
Cairo-based art management professional/consultant who has been working in the Egyptian cultural field since 2005 filling different managerial positions in various organizations. Before joining Pro Helvetia Suleiman occupied the position of Managing Director at Contemporary Image Collective (CiC) in Cairo. Since July 2016 Dalia has been directing the regional office of the Swiss Art Council Pro Helvetia Cairo.
Pro Helvetia Cairo supports and disseminates Swiss art and culture in the Arab region through promoting cultural exchange, developing and nurturing long-term partnerships, initiating co-productions and supporting residencies.
Visual artist, musician (Switzerland)
George Steinmann was born 1950 and lives in Bern. He is a visual artist, musician and researcher. He studied painting, sound, and Afro-American History in Berne, Basel and San Francisco.His artistic practice is research oriented and involves fieldwork where he investigates Climate Change, Biodiversity, Indigenous peoples Knowledge and the Ecologies of Forests Water and Soil. A special focus is on the interconnectedness of Art, Science and Local Knowledge. Since 1966 George Steinmann also performs as musician. In 2018 he received the Grand Prix for Culture from the City of Thun, Switzerland, 2011, a Doctor Honoris Cause from the philosophical-historical faculty of the University of Berne and 2001 the Swiss Grand Art Award, Prix Meret Oppenheim.
Swiss Diplomat, President of artasfoundation (Switzerland)
Heidi Tagliavini, born in Basel, completed her studies in philology in Geneva and Moscow. In 1982 joined the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. A Swiss career diplomat for 30 years, she served in 19 bilateral and multilateral assignments. Among these were her missions in the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya in the middle of the Chechen war (1995), the appointment by the UN Secretary General as Deputy Head of Mission to the UN Special Representative for the conflict in Georgia (1998), and as the Head of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (2002). In 2008 Heidi Tagliavini was appointed by the Ministers of the European Union to lead the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission for the Conflict in Georgia. Since then, she directed OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions in several elections in Eastern Europe.
Heidi Tagliavini served for Switzerland after early assignments in Lima, Moscow and The Hague as Ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001 to 2002) and in Bern as the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Political Affairs Division, dealing with Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy (1999), and in 2006 as Deputy Political Director and Deputy State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry. From 2008 to 2012 Heidi Tagliavini was Diplomat-in-Residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Heidi Tagliavini holds two honorary doctorates from the universities of Basel and Bern. In 2013 she was awarded the Human Rights Price by the International Society of Human Rights. In the same year she received the Grand Decorations of Honor in Gold for services to the Republic of Austria.
Director Artists at Risk Connection (USA)
Julie Trébault is the director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), an international project aiming to protect at-risk artists. Prior to joining PEN America, she served as director of public programs and traveling exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York, where she created a robust roster of panel discussions, performances, screenings, and symposia spanning New York City’s arts, culture, and history. Before moving to New York, she worked at the National Museum of Ethnology in The Netherlands, where she built a network of 116 museums across the globe that shared a virtual collection of Asian masterpieces and developed an innovative array of online applications and exhibitions to make the collection as widely accessible as possible. From 2004 until 2007, she was Head of Higher Education and Academic Events at the Musée du quai Branly (Paris), where she conceived and implemented a policy for higher education by creating an international network of universities, graduate schools, and research institutes as well as a post-graduate fellowship for young anthropologists. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from the Sorbonne University and a Master’s Degree in Archeology from the University of Strasbourg, and teaches at Fordham University.
Performer and Theatre director (Sri Lanka/Switzerland)
P. Vijayashanthan is an experimental theatre maker and performance artist. He worked as a performer in an alternative theatre group in Sri Lanka for many years, where the focus was on interaction and improvisation, and was involved in the co-production of many theatrical works with socio-political topics in a transcultural field. He studied journalism and human rights at the University of Colombo. He is the founder and artistic director of the theatre group EXPERI Theater in Zurich. In addition, he often stages experimental, improvised theatre performances in various public spaces.
Matthias von Hartz
Artistic Director Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Germany/Switzerland)
Matthias von Hartz is a theatre director and curator based in Zurich. He was born in 1970. After a Masters Degree in economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, he studied directing at the University of Hamburg. He directed theatre productions at several municipal and state theatres, international production houses and festivals. For Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg he developed the interdiscplinary format go create resistance: over several years artists, scientists and activists produced projects on various aspects of globalisation. After conceptualising and curating artistic-political formats for various international theatres and museums, Matthias von Hartz run the Theaterbiennale Impulse in North-Rhine-Westphalia from 2006 to 2011 together with Tom Stromberg. In 2008 he relaunched the International Summer Festival Hamburg and was the artistic director for five editions. Together with Frie Leysen he developed the concept of Foreign Affairs, the international performing arts festival of Berliner Festspiele and was it’s artistic director until 2016. From 2016 to 2018 he was Artistic Advisor of the Manchester International Festival and Co-Curator of of the Athens and Epidauros Festival. Since 2018 Matthias von Hartz is Co-Director and Artistic Director of the international performing arts festival Zürcher Theater Spektakel.
Researcher, Fribourg University (Switzerland)
Jasper Walgrave graduated in History, Political Sociology and Development Studies. Born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1974, he started working in the arts sector in 2000 in Portugal, coordinating collaborative projects between then Danças Na Cidade (now alkantara) and partners in Mozambique, Cabo Verde and Brazil.
Between 2003 and 2006 Walgrave was project coordinator for the SA-Flemish project for Community Arts Centres, based at the Department of Arts and Culture in Pretoria, South Africa. From 2007 until 2019, he worked for Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council, initially heading its Southern African liaison office, first in Cape Town and then Johannesburg; and later in Zurich as head of the desk managing its small network of Liaison Offices (Johannesburg, Delhi, Cairo, Shanghai, Moscow), and later of the South America programme COINCIDENCIA. Since August 2019 Walgrave is focusing on research for a PhD in a research project on Swiss-South African Cultural Relations 1949-1994, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF, hosted by the Bern University of the Arts HKB and enrolled at the Université de Fribourg.
Director of the Department of Cultural Analysis Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Christoph Weckerle is Director of the Department of Cultural Analysis at the Zurich University of the Arts. He is a Cultural Policy Researcher with contracts that include clients such as: Council of Europe, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency.
He was awarded the Swiss Design Prize for his research in the field of the creative economies.
From 2014 onwards he has been joining forces with RISE Management Innovation Lab / University of St. Gallen HSG and Critical Thinking Initiative, ETH Zurich to set up a venture aiming at understanding the whole “ecosystem” of the Creative Economies.
Christoph Weckerle was Head of the Research Unit for Creative Industries at the Zurich University of the Arts (2002 to 2007, publishing the 1st and 2nd National Report on Creative Industries in Switzerland).
Researcher, Trainer, and Cultural manager (Syria/Germany)
Rana Yazaji’s work has been based on the combination of practice and research. In 2011, she collaborated with other independent cultural activists to establish Ettijahat- Independent Culture, a Syrian organization formed to support independent arts and culture, and play a role in fostering positive political and social change in Syria. In 2014, Yazaji became the Executive Director of Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy), a regional cultural organization focused on developing and supporting both an independent art scene and cultural players in the Arab region.
Yazaji’s interest in Cultural Policy led her to focus on Research, since 2009 she conducted, published and was involved in many research projects, most significantly, A research on cultural policies in Syria for the book, Introduction to Cultural Policies in the Arab Region; contributing to Istanbul Bilgi University’s yearbook of cultural policies with the chapter entitled, “National Planning & Emerging Role of Civil Society Institutions in Syria”; and most recently “Arts and Funding – Models of Resources Management and parallel approaches to cultural and Creative sustainability”.
Yazaji completed a B.A. in Theatre Studies from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts (Damascus, 2001), an M.A. in Design and Management of Cultural Projects from the New Sorbonne University (Paris, 2005), and an M.A. in Theatre Directing and Dramaturgy from the University of Paris X (Paris, 2006).
SDC/Swiss FDFA, Head of the Team Culture and Development (Switzerland)
Géraldine Zeuner lives and works in Bern and is responsible for «Culture and Development» at SDC, both as programme manager and thematic advisor. In her current function she was also in charge of the establishment of an innovation lab for SDC that opened in 2018. Géraldine Zeuner studied Geography, Ethnology and Social & Economic History at the University of Zürich majoring in 1996. She then started her professional career in working for NGOs in Switzerland and the UN in Mali. She joined the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in 2002 and represented Switzerland as Head of Cooperation in Bolivia and Tanzania. Back in Switzerland she finished a Master of Advanced Studies in Arts Management at the School of Management and Law of the Zürich University of Applied Science (ZHaW).
Artist and researcher Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Mara Züst lives and works in Zurich and is an artist, researcher, cultural pedagogue, author and outreach project developer. She works at the Institute for Contemporary Art Research, ZHdK and is personally in charge of the estate of the artist Andreas Züst. Her current greatest passions are developing tools in the field of cultural pedagogy incorporating hands-on print production „Mini-Zine-Library“, 2019 in India, Pakistan and Switzerland, publishing of books combining research, text, and images in a unique design (e.g. “Kolkata-City of Print”, 2019; “Doris Stauffer. A Monograph”, 2015).
* artasfoundation would like to underline that its use of names and titles particularly with regard to the conflict regions should not be construed as implying any form of recognition or non-recognition by the foundation or as having any other political connotation whatsoever.