Week by Week – Zurich

Week One

In a nutshell

  • Program kick-off: Daniel Späti, Zhao Chuan and Elizabeth de Roza
  • Lecture: Elizabeth de Roza on Embodied Practices and Censorship
  • Workshop: Elizabeth de Roza on Body and Space
  • Lecture and Workshop: Elodie Pong on Secrets
  • Lecture and Workshop: Melanie Grütter on Gender and Body Language
  • Excursion: Benedictine abbey of Einsiedeln
  • Self presentations

Day 1

This year’s program started with a vibrant morning full of first encounters and conversations about everyone’s expectations, aims, hopes and passions for the months to come. It allowed for some first glimpses into each other’s worlds – and for calming the nerves.

The kick-off lecture was given by core faculty member Elizabeth de Roza. She is an artist-researcher/educator, performance maker, theatre director, a multi-disciplinary performance artist, creative collaborator and theatre academic based in Singapore. In her lecture she shared impressions and insights of her artistic work. She focused on the meaning and potential of embodied practices and talked about the creative dealing with rules, regulations and (self-)censorship. The lecture was followed by a workshop on body and space including a first exploration of ZHdK’s surroundings and awareness exercises.

Scene from Paper Boat by Elizabeth de Rosa

Day 2 

Elodie Pong, Zurich-based artist working with performance, installation and video/film, gave a lecture about her project Secrets Collections (2001-2005) that resulted in a 9-hour video piece and the one-hour film Secrets for Sale (2003). Over the course of Secrets Collections Pong “bought” 300 secrets of people. Her work deals with questions of privacy, voyeurism, intimacy, shame, trust and confession. Based on her lecture she then conducted a workshop addressing related issues. In the afternoon, a first round of self presentations of the participants took place.

Day 3

Continuation of self presentations and a workshop by core faculty member Zhao Chuan. He is a theatre director, author, curator and founder of Grass Stage theatre based in Shanghai. His workshop led to the first small collaborations among participants who developed short performances for the group. The day finished with a relaxing welcome dinner in the midst of ZHdK’s lush rooftop garden.

Development of mini performances during Zhao Chuan’s workshop. Photo by Claudio Rainolter

Day 4

Thursday’s guest lecturer was Melanie Grütter holding a PhD in Gender Studies (University of Basel). Her interactive talk tried to point out different perspectives on gender and involve the participants’ diverse viewpoints. The discussion was enriched by a close reading of an excerpt of Men Explain Things To Me (2014) by Rebecca Solnit. The morning was followed by another afternoon of self presentations.

Day 5

On Friday, the group ventured out of Zurich for an excursion to the Benedictine abbey and Marian shrine of Einsiedeln (Kanton Schwyz). The morning was reserved for exploring the site, guided by one of the 45 monks. In the course of this, the group got to see different parts of the abbey, the library, and of course, the shrine of the Black Madonna. The afternoon focused on an in-depth Q&A with another one of the Benedictine monks about the sacrament of confession.

In the old library of the Benedictine abbey Einsiedeln. Photo by Claudio Rainolter

After discussing confession with the Benedictine monk Justinius. Photo by Claudio Rainolter

Week Two

In a nutshell

  • 2-day Workshop: Sabine Harbeke on Feedback Culture in Teams
  • Mapping interests around the semester topic
  • Group building & beginning of team work
  • Excursion: Theaterspektakel to see the dance performance 10’000 gestes

Day 1 & 2

Sabine Harbeke carried out a two-day workshop with the group to address the sensitive topic of feedback. The workshop aimed to build a foundation for the future collaborations and develop strategies of feedback as well as shared reflection on the challenges of collaborative work and evaluation. It contained the creation of short performances within groups of 5-6 that collected their material in the course of extensive explorations throughout Zurich.

Day 3 & 4

Parallel to the final rounds of self presentations, the group building process was gradually initiated by collecting and mapping out individual and shared interests around this year’s semester topic “Spoken/Unspoken”. On Thursday, the collaboration groups for phase 1 of the program (Zurich) were built based on common interests. In the evening, the group went to see a dance performance at Theater Spektakel: Boris Charmatz’ latest production 10 000 gestes.

Mapping interests. Photo by Daniel Späti

Elizabeth de Roza’s challenging questions. Photo by Stephanie Lee

Day 5

Friday was reserved for team work and practice-based explorations.

Week Three

In a nutshell

  • Lecture: Simon Dietersdorfer and Ricardo Eizirik on Conceptual Thinking and Artistic Experimentation.
  • Workshop and Debate: Melanie Grütter on Gender and Body Language
  • Lecture and Debate: Talaya Schmid on Taboo and Sexuality followed by a group discussion (joined by Melanie Grütter and Ricardo Eizirik)
  • Team work: practice-based explorations as well as group meetings

Day 1

The week started with Simon Dietersdorfer and Ricardo Eizirik introducing their multifaceted work and experiences in collaborating with artists from different backgrounds and in developing concepts across the disciplines. Composer Eizirik and actor/composer Dietersdorfer both shared their views on artistic experimentation in collaborative settings.

Day 2 & 3

The following days were used for delving deeper into the group projects, the development of shared concepts and further practice-based explorations. Also first group meetings were held including individual mentoring and inputs offered by the program staff.

Day 4

Thursday gender theorist Melanie Grütter paid the ZHdK another visit to discuss further questions around gender issues. Participants were asked to share their observations made in the context of their artistic practices and daily lives through the “gender-lense”. She also introduced the phenomenon of Krumping in the context of body language and self-empowerment through dance. In the afternoon Talaya Schmid, founder of Zurich’s art film festival Porny Days, and Ricardo Eizirik joined Grütter to raise questions of taboos in the visual arts, (pop) culture and music/composition. Schmids presentation included a screening of the short film Girls & Boys by Ninja Thyberg.

Day 5

Another day of intense team work, group check-ins, meetings with mentors and further explorations.

Week 4

In a nutshell

  • Team work: practice-based explorations as well as group meetings
  • Test ground/Presentations: of explorations and experiments
  • Feedback: about Phase 1 (Zurich): reflecting on contents and processes

Starting the presentation day of Zurich collaborations. Photo by Claudio Rainolter

Keng, Nathalie and Daniel sharing thoughts and coffee. Photo by Claudio Rainolter