Master-Symposium: Hope and Labour. Artists Working (for) Futures

Autumn 2023

CW 43: 26 / 27 October 2023

Time: 09:00 - 20:00 o'clock

Interested students of other study programmes can register from 01 to 17 September 2023 by email to: You will be informed until the end of calendar week 39 about a possible participation.
Applications before 01 September 2023 will not be accepted.

Universität / Haute École
Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
Yvonne Wilhelm, Judith Welter, Laura von Niederhäusern, Barbara Preisig
Contact email
for student applications
Content description

How do artists work and live today and how do possible futures determine their expectations, concepts and artistic practices? What kind of life models between art, care and wage labour are conceivable for the future? The Master Symposium looks at social and economic aspects of contemporary artistic work and combines them with speculations on possible futures. How will artists live and/or/survive in 2050? Perhaps the art world will shift increasingly into the digital realm and tech giants will determine the aesthetics of art. Perhaps artistic skills and strategies will change when blackouts and scarcity of resources are part of the new everyday life where crises that cannot be overlooked fundamentally bring about the collapse of social value and work structures.

The connection between hope and labour in the title identifies three aspects to which the workshops, lectures and speculations of the symposium are dedicated:
1. Hope stands for Hope Labour. Artistic and research-based work today is driven by the permanent hope that in the future currently unpaid work will pay off as an investment in one's career. As a result, precarious working conditions are endured for a longer period of time, and artistic engagement is transfigured as a promising form of self-realisation.
2. Hope stands for the hope that is currently placed in art to contribute to a better or different future. Art should change our relationship to the environment, it should sharpen our awareness of the ecological and ethical crises and make the strategies of resource-saving lifestyles palatable to us.
3. Hope stands for a perspective on an imagined future beyond omnipresent catastrophisms, it stands for fabulations, desires and dreams, which we would like to develop and negotiate together in the symposium.

About the lecturers:

Yvonne Wilhelm is an artist (part of the artist duo knowbotiq) and professor, teaching at the ZHdK MFA, who has been experimenting with forms and medialities of social imaginaries, visual regimes, and epistemic disobedience, with a certain focus on queer-feminist and post-/decolonial aspects. Her practical focus is on post-digital time-based formats, installative-performative settings, and research-led art.

Judith Welter (*1980) is a curator. She studied art history, Spanish literature and Religious Studies at the University of Bern. In 2014, she completed her PhD on the role of rumors and anecdotes in contemporary. From 2015 to 2021 she has been director of the Kunsthaus Glarus. From 2004 to 2015 she worked for the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich where from 2012 on she was the Collection Curator. Since 2015 she is co-editor of the online magazine for art criticism Brand-New-Life. Recent curated solo exhibitions include Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo) (2021), Caroline Bachmann, Jan Vorisek (2020) Marta Riniker-Radich (2018), Birgit Megerle (2017).

Laura von Niederhäusern is an artist-researcher situating her practice in the fields of essayistic filmmaking, installations and writing. She recently concluded her practice-based PhD-project in which a self-made camera played a specific role for creating space-time of inter-views with a child and an environment of dementia care.

Barbara Preisig is an art historian and art critic whose research focuses on contemporary artistic practices and their social and political contexts. In exploring translocal, transdisciplinary, and nonacademic ways of writing and thinking, she addresses a range of subjects, including artistic research, feminism, institutional studies, and the politics of authorship. She works as a postdoc researcher and lecturer at Zurich University of the Arts, and is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Contemporary Art Research (IFCAR). Besides she is co-editor of the magazine Brand-New-Life.