MA-Symposium 2018

ECAV Masters Symposium

Along Ecological Lines

A Symposium on Contemporary Art and Climate Change


Date: March 26th 2018

Time: 10am to 5pm

Venue: Salle De Conference, Batiment D’Art Contemporain

Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 10, 1205 Genève


To register, please email Christopher Füllemann at


Initiated by researchers at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais, ‘Along Ecological Lines’ is a body of research into the question of how specific contemporary art practices engage with the topic of climate change. It sets out from the belief that the activities of artists can play a role in challenging political and social intransigence in relation to the urgent issue of global emissions reduction and that this contribution compliments and extends the scientific work in the field.

As part of this broader body of research, this one-day symposium brings together environmentally engaged artists, curators and specialists (from the humanities, social and environmental sciences.) from around Europe to present and discuss their work.

Against the critical backdrop of a growing global climate movement, the speakers will introduce Masters students to their practices, detailing specific projects and productions from recent years. In discussion with invited specialists participants will reflect upon the diversity and transdisciplinarity of these ways of working, address the ethics, relevance and agency of such practices and imagine their trajectories in the years to come.

Invited participants:

Presentations by:

  • Fernando García-Dory - artist (ES)
  • Maja and Reuben Fowkes – curators and art historians (HU)
  • Sacha Kagan – social theorist (DE) Uni. Lüneburg

Screening: Ursula Biemann – artist (CH)

Discussion partners and moderators:

  • Marie Velardi – artist (CH) ECAV
  • Eric Maeder - philosopher and ethicist (CH) ECAV – MAPS
  • Luzia Hürzeler – artist (CH) ECAV Research
  • David Bresch – climate scientist (CH) ETH

Symposium Chair:

Barnaby Drabble (initiator and lead researcher) – curator & writer (UK/CH)




  • 10.00 Welcome: Petra Köhle
    (Head of Master of Art in Public Spheres, MAPS, ECAV)
  • 10.15 Introduction to the day: Barnaby Drabble
  • 10.30 Talk: Maja and Reuben Fowkes
    Art and Ecology in Times of Deviant Democracy.
  • 11.15 Break
  • 11.45 Work Presentation: Fernando García-Dory
  • 12.30 Panel Discussion with Maja and Reuben Fowkes & Fernando García-Dory, joined by Luzia Hürzeler and moderated by Eric Maeder.
  • 1.15 Lunch
  • 2.30 Screening: Ursula Biemann
  • 3.00 Talk: Sacha Kagan
    Artful Sustainability: The Artistic Turn in Sustainability Research.
  • 3.45 Break
  • 4.15 Panel Discussion with Sacha Kagan joined by Marie Velardi and moderated by David Bresch.
  • 5.00 End



Ursula Biemann is an artist, author, and video essayist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil and water, as in the recent projects Deep Weather (2013) Forest Law (2014) and Subatlantic (2015). Her video installations are exhibited worldwide in museums and at international art biennials in Liverpool, Sharjah, Shanghai, Sevilla, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice and Sao Paulo. She had comprehensive solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Lentos Museum Linz and Helmhaus Zurich. Biemann is part of the collaborative World of Matter project ( and received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the national art award of Switzerland. (

David Bresch is a specialist on uncertainty and risk in climate change and the economics of climate adaptation. He holds a Masters in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH), and was awarded his PhD by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH in 1998, spending a year at MIT in Cambridge, USA, as research associate in science and policy of climate change. Since September 2016, he holds the position of Professor for Weather and Climate Risk, at the Department of Environmental Systems Science of the ETH Zurich. His work there focuses on the interface between weather, climate and society.

Barnaby Drabble is a writer and researcher with a background in curating contemporary art. He lectures on the MAPS program at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais, where he also conducts research into environmentally engaged art practices, artistic research and exhibition histories. He holds a PhD in visual culture, has curated numerous independent and institutional projects and has published three books on exhibition practice and curating . His current research project Along Ecological Lines, relates both to his activities in Catalonia, where he has been living in an intentional community aimed at developing environmental consciousness, and to his long-term focus on social and political relevance of artistic practices.

Maja and Reuben Fowkes are art historians, curators and co-directors of the Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art, an independent research centre focusing on the art history of Central Europe and contemporary ecological practices. Their curatorial projects include the Anthropocene Experimental Reading Room, the Danube River School, the conference on Vegetal Mediations, as well as the exhibition Walking without Footprints. Recent and forthcoming publications include Maja Fowkes’s The Green Bloc: Neo-Avant-Garde and Ecology under Socialism, a book on Central and Eastern European Art Since 1950, as well as numerous chapters and journal articles on topics such as performative re-enactments, de-schooling the art curriculum and the ecological entanglements of deviant democracy. Reuben Fowkes is an editor of Third Text and they are regular contributors to magazines and artist publications. They have given numerous guest lectures and conference papers and are founding members of the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at Central European University. (

Fernando Garcia-Dory is an artist who grew up between Madrid and a remote rural location in northern Spain. For almost 20 years, he is engaging specifically with the relationship between culture and nature now, as manifested in multiple contexts, from landscape and the rural, to desires and expectations concerned with identity, through to (global) crisis, utopia and the potential for social change. After studying Fine Arts in Madrid and Amsterdam, he continued with Rural Sociology, and is now preparing his PhD on Art & Agroecology. Interested in the harmonic complexity of biological forms and processes, his work addresses connections and cooperation, from microorganisms to social systems, and from traditional art languages such as drawing to collaborative agroecological projects, actions, and cooperatives. (

Luzia Hürzeler is an artist and Artistic Researcher. Her work centres on the relationship between an idea and its physical realisation. Her recent works, research projects and her doctoral thesis deal with ideas about human-animal relationships. In her current research project at the Ecole cantonale d’art du Valais, ‘Who has seen the wolf?’ she is making an inventory (genesis) and an analysis (deconstruction) of the different types of representation which act as a substitute for an immediate experience of the wolf. By exploring what images contribute to producing a sufficiently precise and apparently faithful image she considers how overcome our lack of direct contact and what happens in the process. (

Sacha Kagan has been researching at the intersection of the arts, culture(s) and sustainability for more than a decade. He was a research associate at the Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organization (ISCO), Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) from 2005 to 2018; Principal Investigator at the research project “The City as Space of Possibility” (2015-2018); Chair of the Research Network “Sociology of the Arts” at the European Sociological Association from 2015 to 2017. He is the author of 53 publications, including the book Art and Sustainability: connecting patterns for a culture of complexity (2011).

Eric Maeder holds a Master degree in philosophy and history from Geneva University, is a lecturer at Ecole cantonale d’art du Valais, Haute école de gestion de Genève and Fribourg, and is an independent consultant. Eric is an ethicist. He specializes in ethics of art practices, environmental ethics, business ethics, and sustainable management. In his recent research project L’art dans la nature. Nature dans l’art. Conceptions, expériences et pratiques in situ, for the institute of Tourism HES-SO Valais, he has been examining philosophical and ethical representations of nature in artistic practices dealing with the public sphere. As an independent consultant, he helps organizations address a variety of ethical challenges in work relationships and stakeholder dialogue. He is also a member of several ethical committees.

Marie Velardi is an artist and artistic researcher whose work takes multiple forms – installations, videos, drawings, texts, printed images, sound – in which there is always a common element: the link to time, and in particular to the future. Her primary aim is to construct a memory of the future – a long-term perspective – which she understands as of equal importance to a memory of the past. Since 2017 she has been a teacher on the Bachelor’s program at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais, where she is currently co-director of the print studios, dealing with Multiples and Editions. (


Master-Symposium HEAD-Genève, Tue March 27 and Wed 28

conceived by Catherine Chevalier


Crise du langage et critique (d’art)

The 2008 subprime crisis, the recent transformations of traditional political polarizations and the omnipresent use of social media in the public sphere have all contributed to the semantic crisis of language and critique we are currently witnessing, along with an ensuing emancipation of the referent and a rejection of theory. This symposium aims to present different alternatives of understanding the becoming of criticism, especially art criticism, regarding this implosion of language. As in the social field, cybernetics appears to be the dominating model of language, where qualities of transparence, self-referentiality and functionality prevail. The knowledge economy demands productivity from language, forfeiting its resistant qualities in literature or poetry (to be polysemic, complex and non-productive). This capturing of affect and language by advanced capitalism has normalized the forms and styles of writing for the benefit of new modes of subjectivation that are exhibitionist and narcissistic. To counter this tendency, we first propose reconsidering strategies of artistic desubjectivation experimented with in the 1970s and reactivated at the beginning of the 2000s from a literary and political perspective. By doing so, we aim to conceive of the actual potentialities of new languages and other forms of authorship. We will focus on some moments of intensity that revolutionized the theoretical, political and literary languages: like French Theory (pre-institutional, between 1975 and 1977) or the autonomist Italian movement of ’77. They will be actualized here, in a contemporary manner, as models of experimentation, as existential and political laboratories of language.


Tuesday 27. MARCH at HEAD–Genève, room 25, boulevard helvétique 9 (in english)

10h–17h Media Larping, workshop with Caroline Busta (ex-editor in chief of Texte zur Kunst, founder of News Models)

Students will experiment with what it would be like to run their favorite publication, with the aim of better understanding what a publication needs to do in today's media ecology, what the limitations are of the existing structures, and how existing publications might be optimized to better address the way our media use is evolving. Students will be asked to take a holistic view of publishing, considering how editorial, financial, and attentional elements intersect.

18.30h–20H Marmelade Us, Keynote lecture by Tom McDonough, Art historian, Associate Professor of Art History Binghamton University, room 25 (afterwards bar!)

This talk asks what forms a transformative critical practice might assume through a return to the writing and life of Jill Johnston, an exemplary figure in New York during the 1960s and ‘70s.


Wednesday 28. MARCH at HEAD–Genève, boulevard helvétique 9, room 25 (in French and English)

10h–16h Roundtables and presentations

10h-12h La crise du langage et le mouvement italien de 1977
Ilaria Bussoni, Claire Fontaine, Maurizio Lazzarato

14h-16h Language Crisis and Art Criticism
Caroline Busta, Catherine Chevalier, Tom McDonough

17h Projection du film de Angela Marzullo : Let’s Spit on Hegel (2015) suivie d’une discussion


ECAL Masters Symposium

Eco-monde: horizons nouveaux Date: 29 mars 2018

Horaire: 9h à 17h

Adresse: Auditoire Ikea, ECAL /Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne, Avenue du Temple 5, 1020 Renens Langue : Français


9h30 Réception
Accueil, croissants et café

10h-11h François Cusset
Introduction: Si les baleines avaient des oreillettes...

11h30-13h Razmig Keucheyan
Une révolution écologique

15h-16h30 Emanuele Coccia
Sur les origines théologiques de l'écologie

16h30-17h Conclusion, débat


Eco-monde: horizons nouveaux

Peut-on passer d’un monde à l’autre, d’une période de l’histoire humaine à une autre, et continuer à créer des formes, produire du sens, vendre de l’art, comme si de rien n’était? Glisser dans une nouvelle ère sans en tenir compte? Entre compte à rebours de la catastrophe écologique et nouvelle conscience environnementale, on est en train de changer de paradigme, et d’entrer, sans toujours le savoir, souvent à reculons, dans un univers inconnu, où les questions politiques, sociales, scientifiques, artistiques ne se posent plus dans les mêmes termes. Là où était l’homme (« ecce homo ») s’impose aujourd’hui l’interdépendance des formes de vie (« aimer l’écho? »). Là où se déchaînait Prométhée, avec son mythe du progrès et son dogme du développement, surgit un souci neuf, encore mal compris, celui de durer, de laisser vivre, de s’abstenir. Là où règne la substance, celle des produits, des ressources, des certitudes, s’insinue désormais une question inédite: l’atmosphère, affaire d’ambiance et de résonance, d’esprits aériens et d’envoûtement des choses. Et là où triompha longtemps l’anthropocentrisme, comme posture impériale, le sol se fissure sous les pieds de l’Homme, qui en perd sa majuscule, son arrogance, sa solitude aussi. De ce tournant écologique obligé de la modernité tardive, l’art et la culture ne peuvent pas ne pas tenir compte. Il leur faut trouver une tonalité nouvelle, au diapason des périls, des urgences,mais aussi de l’humilité et de l’ampleur de vue requises par ces temps nouveaux. Il leur faut explorer des thématiques nouvelles, que le capitalisme frénétique et les drames de l’histoire avaient reléguées au second plan. Il leur faut, surtout, penser ensemble des choses qu’on sépare depuis des siècles: les objets et les vies, l’air et le sens, le micro et le macro, le temps et l’espace. C’est de ces vastes problèmes que traitera le symposium. C’est dans cet esprit qu’il bousculera nos habitudes. C’est avec autant de joie que d’exigence questionnante, de liberté que d’ouverture dialogante, qu’il abordera de front la révolution en cours, et ses enjeux cruciaux pour le monde de l’art – et pour le simple fait de créer. On y parlera d’anthropocène, de finance verte, de pourriture vitale, de gadoue militante, du rapport entre le milieu et les extrémités, et de bien d’autres choses. En gardant à l’esprit, pour ne pas désarmer, qu’il ne s’agit pas de défendre la nature, mais plutôt, aujourd’hui plus que jamais, d’être la nature qui se défend.


10h - 11h François Cusset.

Introduction: Si les baleines avaient des oreillettes...

Partir d’une double image: celle des cétacés océaniques qui meurent de lésions acoustiques, victimes de la pollution sonore des océans, et celle de nos foules urbaines d’humains à oreillettes, immergés dans une bulle sonore qui les arrache au monde. Et dérouler les questions. Question atmosphérique: l’ambiance sous-marine, l’ambiance urbaine, l’ambiance mondiale tout aussi bien, sont-elles celles de la fin du monde, comme le suggèrent les catastrophistes, ou plutôt celles d’un nouveau rapport entre les mondes? Question politique: réformer, bricoler, appliquer sur un système inchangé une couche de vernis, en taxant les pollueurs ou en encaissant les bénéfices du désastre, suffira-t-il vraiment, si l’on ne réduit pas le volume sonore des océans, et ne retire pas nos casques pour de bon? Question esthétique: quelles formes, à inventer, sauront rendre compte de ces drôles d’histoires d’infusion, de transfusion, de diffusion, de perfusion? Etc.

Auteur de plusieurs essais (dont French Theory en 2003 et, cette année, Le Déchaînement du monde) et de deux romans, François Cusset est professeur à l’université de Paris Nanterre et enseigne la théorie critique à l’Ecal.

11h30 - 13h Razmig Keucheyan

Une révolution écologique

Aux quatre coins du monde, les catastrophes naturelles se multiplient. Qu’on le veuille ou non, la planète va subir une transition écologique. La question est de savoir si elle sera chaotique – certains n’hésitent pas à parler d’ « effondrement » – ou si les sociétés pourront garder un contrôle sur cette transition. Une transition écologique maîtrisée suppose, entre autres choses, de parvenir à distinguer entre des besoins que nous allons continuer à satisfaire, des besoins « essentiels », et des besoins qu’il faudra écarter, car ils ne sont plus soutenables sur le plan environnemental. Mais comment parvenir à établir cette distinction ? Dans cette conférence, on relira certaines théories révolutionnaires du passé pour trouver des éléments de réponse à cette question.

Razmig Keucheyan est professeur de sociologie à l’université de Bordeaux. Il est notamment l’auteur de Hémisphère gauche. Une cartographie des nouvelles pensées critiques (la Découverte, 2010), et de La nature est un champ de bataille. Essai d’écologie politique (la Découverte, 2014).

15h - 16h30 Emanuele Coccia

Sur les origines théologiques de l'écologie

Si le mot écologie a été inventé par Ernst Haeckel en 1866, la discipline existait déjà bien avant lui, sous le nom de « économie animale ». La notion d'économie, d'origine théologique, impliquait l'idée d'un ordre immanent propre aux êtres naturels qui n'a pas une nature politique mais purement 'domestique'. Il s’agit ici de retracer l'histoire de cette notion et de montrer à quel point l'écologie moderne reste tributaire de cet esprit antipolitique qui rend littéralement impossible de penser l'autonomie du naturel.

Emanuele Coccia est maître de conférences à l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) de Paris, après avoir été maître assistant à l'Université de Fribourg, Allemagne. Parmi ses publications: La vie sensible (2010), Le bien dans les choses (2013), Une métaphysique du mélange (2016). Avec Giorgio Agamben, il a coédité une anthologie sur les anges dans le judaïsme, le christianisme et l'islam (Angeli. Ebraismo Cristianesimo Islam, Milan, 2009).

16h30-17h Conclusion, débat


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