Maritime Poetics: from Coast to Hinterland

A research encounter at Corner College 25-27th May 2018

TETI GROUP / Franklin University, CH

In the past fifty years, port cities throughout the world have experienced considerable changes to their morphologies and their identities. The introduction of the standardized container in the 1960s participated in the acceleration of global interconnectedness, while simultaneously introducing a caesura within port cities, as container terminals were developed out of the urban core to accommodate new transportation vessels (Stopford 2009, Levinson 2006, Hoyle 2000). In Europe, the shift took place in parallel with the global decentralisation of major maritime industrial assets, and often induced economic downturn and social hardships for many harbour cities. However, these metamorphosis can also be seen as having opened a path towards an emancipation from a former narcissist relation to the sea and the world beyond: European port cities could gain a capacity to see the Other within themselves, thereby potentially undermining the self-centred perspective that had nurtured colonial expansionism (Gee 2018). Artistic practices engaging with maritime heritage have been noteworthy actors in the articulation of such an alternate set of aspirations and a multipolar identity for the European port city of the 21st century. If the 17th and 18th century seascapes could capture and represent so strikingly the changing networks of European trade and political outreach (Keyes 1990, Quilley, 2011), the late 20th century witnessed a diversification of aesthetic perspectives on ports and sea, exploring through various mediums a range of poetic critical interventions. Maritime Poetics is a project developed by the TETI group’s to reflect on the changing global cultural identities and identity formation in the 20th and 21st centuries. It aims to bring together artists, curators and art historians in a collaborative discussion on and productive contribution to the forms and ideas nurtured in port cities and their spatial ramifications around their past and present identities.

To develop the project, TETI is planning a workshop entitled Maritime Poetics: from Coast to Hinterland, to nurture a collective reflection and to foster future collaborations between artists, curators, and art historians whose practice/research explore the representations of European coastal territories in their relation(s) to their hinterlands. Port cities in that respect are situated at the junction of land and sea, and as such form an interface between the world beyond and the territories inland (Vegetti 2014). The workshop will place the emphasis on the arteries that connect coasts and port cities to inner territories. The hinterland feeds harbours and ships, and demands from the sea goods and capital to be imported and consumed within. Discussions will also explore the perception of the circulation of people at the local, regional, national and global scale, in an era that has witnessed increased transnational human mobility. Such movements of individuals and communities have been portrayed in both their emancipatory potential, fostering hybrid intersections and connections, and through the sombre and often invisible textures generated by historical socio-political and geo-political & military narratives. Overall, attention will be paid to both metabolic processes (physical extraction, transformation, distribution of nature and materials, bodily experiences) and the representations which inform and command the shaping of our landscapes (Swyngedouw 2006, Gee & Vogelaar, 2018). Hence the workshop will pay particular attention to the Janus-figure quality of the port city, explored specifically in relation to the European continent in the global age. It will parallel the exhibition: Hinterland: the eyes of the lighthouse, blood as a rover, curated by Gabriel Gee & Anne-Laure Franchette at the independent art space Corner College in Zurich in the Spring of 2018. While its initiative is rooted in art historical research, the workshop aims to give particular space to artistic voices through artists themselves and curators. In doing so, it aims to engage directly with contemporary practices, as well as discussions and production/intervention projects framed within an ‘artistic research’ dynamic. In that respect, the workshop can draw from the recent Swiss Artistic Research Network (SARN) conference organized in December 2017 at Zurich University of the Arts by the Institute of Contemporary Art Research on the topic of “Art Research Work”. Corner College hosted the launch of the conference, and while our topic is significantly different to the SARN conference – in that it doesn’t focus specifically on a questioning of the nature of artistic research –  it nevertheless can reflect on the mode of articulation of artistic research strategies and artistic discourses in relation to costal interfaces and hinterlands (SARN 2017, see also FHNW 2016, Stauffer 2013). As such, the sessions are meant to be conducive to the development of present and future collaborative artistic, academic and curatorial interventions, exhibitions, and publications, while fostering collaborations and exchanges between different institutions and organizations around key topics/object that directly concern our societies being and development. The proposed workshop is structured in five sessions, which progressively follow a turn inward, form coast and port cities, to rivers, roads and countryside, cities and networks inland. The topics are 1 work and leisure, 2 socio-nature, 3 commerce, 4 global interconnected histories, and 5 dreamscapes.

1 work and leisure.

This session looks at the changing nature and balance of work and leisure in relation to maritime economics and cultural shifts that have occurred in the second half of the century and continue to inform our present age. At the node of maritime exchanges, port cities have been particularly affected by shifts in maritime economics. As port terminals were either displaced further out of the city from the 1960s onwards, or in many European cities simply disappeared in the reorganization of global maritime economics, traditional professions associated with sailing and navigation, with the loading and unloading of cargos, with its storage and distribution, came to an end or were deeply transformed. The ‘retreat of the sea’ left numerous vacant spaces, both physically and mentally, in port cities. The embrace of regeneration strategies based on cultural economics related to trans-industrial changes in the late 20th century also impacted the identities of waterfronts and city-centres, with the design of marinas and leisure-orientated use of water and former commercial docks and buildings. This session will explore the ambiguous nature of these transformations, evoking the ‘documentation’ of work and leisure in the port city, as well as the possibilities and responsibilities of artistic intervention and heritage representation.

2 socio-nature

In this session, the focus is on environments, on port-city and river ecosystems, on the sea-port-land ‘milieu’ approached through its joint environmental physical and symbolic nature (Berque 1986). Environmental issues and awareness have surged in the past fifty years, with numerous voices emerging to question the sustainability of industrial progress. To some extent, the displacement of harbour activities favoured a reflexion on the relation between men and nature. Crucially, the session considers the imbrication of human and natural agents, as well as posits entities such as (port-)cities and rivers as hybrids in which human and non-human voices are to be heard (Latour 2016). A privileged agent of hybridisation, if so inclined, the artist can offer radical solutions and perspectives to territorial agents at a time when new horizons are being considered by policy-makers and urban planners. The session will aim to outline conceptual and pragmatic lines of research and collaborations through which such an involvement and influence can be fomented.

3 Commerce

Commerce has always been at the heart of port cities. Their maritime routes have extended to gather products from afar, from spices and tea to electronics and ready-to-wear garments. Transportation in parallel has searched inland for both offer and demand, from grain, cattle and fur to be exported, and consumption markets to be found and opened. With the advent of the standardised container, the movement from sea to land has been extraordinarily smoothened, with considerable transformations in the practice of maritime commerce on sea (the huge container ships with little crew on board) and on land (the expansion of motorways for trucks, rail, and canals). The growth of financial sector activities, and the crisis which have engulfed them repeatedly since the 1970s, is also of relevance to the shaping of the merchant imaginaries of European port cities. In the arts, this commercial side has often been explored through its negative side, related to greedy exploitation and the rule of money, to the expense of people and communities. The session will aim to explore the forms of such a critical aesthetic, while considering the intrinsic historical commercial propensity of port-cities. It will also pay particular attention to the commercial maritime strategies of nations devoid of coasts, with revealing examples such as the Swiss marine and Austrian or Hungarian maritime ambitions.

4 global interconnected histories

While this workshop focuses on the European territories, the nature of port cities and the history of European tentacular maritime expansion in the early modern age and industrial period, significantly require an appreciation of maritime passages and exchanges with distant shores throughout the world. In his biography of Henri Matisse, the poet and writer Aragon politely objects to Apollinaire’s understanding of the curiosity of Matisse as being European-bounded, with ‘other parts of the world merely able to serve as spices’ to the painter’s substantial European food (Aragon 1971). Far beyond Flanders and the Mediterranean, Aragon writes, does Matisse culture and curiosity sail, to Northern Africa and Asia, Tahiti and distant seas: ‘French painter, citizen of the world’. This session will consider interconnected stories on two levels: first, as in Aragon’s discussion of Matisse, in the world seen by the European eye, yet beyond a projection of internal desires, to reach and learn from a true encounter with the Other and foreigness; second, it will consider the pendent to this perspective, in the space opened by visions from visitors and migrants to the European territories. In that respect, the discussion will privilege a reflection on internal movements, in particular of people in a period that has witnessed dramatic and often tragic human migrations: stemming from the sea and the shores to the land, cities and territories located inland.

5 Dreamscapes

The mythological account of surrealism places its inception in the city of Nantes, where André Breton met Jacques Vaché at the end of the first world war. The writer Julien Gracq dedicated one of his literary geographical musing to the city, where he studied as a young man and taught during the Second World War, entitled ‘La forme d’une ville’ (Gracq 1985), which articulated in many ways ‘Le rêve d’une ville’, the dream of a city (Nantes 1994), which we see here as the dream of a port-city. Settled on the shore, peering onto an endless and unknown horizon, coasts and port-cities bred adventure and fantasies, vast imaginaries and cabinets of tangible and intangible treasures. In an age when migration and settlement to the coasts fuelled from within has become unprecedented (Gillis 2012), our session on dreamscapes aims to consider the potential of unconscious textures and imaginary realms in the seashores of the 21st century, at a time when measurements and rationality have brought a considerable dose of materialism to our societies. The capacity of aesthetics to explore the past, present and future dreamscapes of European borders/shores is seen as a crucial step in the process of understanding and positively shaping a multi-textured European identity-ies.

Gabriel Gee, TETI Group, Franklin University (

The research encounter is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Franklin University, Switzerland, together with Corner College, Zurich. It runs parallel to the exhibition Hinterland, the eyes of the lighthouse; blood as a rover, an exhibition in two parts in May and June 2018 curated by Gabriel Gee and Anne-Laure Franchette at Corner College, organised with the support of the Temperatio Stiftung. 

Aragon, Henri Matisse, Roman (Paris: Gallimard, 1971)

Bercque, Augustin.  Les sauvages et l’artifice. Les japonais devant la nature (Paris: Gallimard, 1986).

FHNW 2015, Impact: Aufzeichnungen der Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst 2015 (Basel 2016)

Gee, Gabriel, “Beyond Narcissus: the sea and the metamorphosis of port-cities in the late twentieth century”, in The changing representation of nature and cities: the 1960s-70s and their legacies, G.N.Gee & A. Vogelaar, eds (New-York: Routledge, 2018)

Gee, Gabriel & Vogelaar Alison, eds, The changing representation of nature and cities: the 1960s-70s and their legacies, (New-York: Routledge, 2018)

Gee Gabriel, “Seen Unseen: hybrid rivers in the 21st century”, in Port – River – City, Dublin: AEMI/NCAD, 2017.

Gillis, John R. The human shore: seacoasts in history. University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Gracq, Julien, La forme d’une ville (Paris: José Corti, 1985)

Hoyle, Brian, “Global and local change on the port-city waterfront”, Geographical Review,  Vol. 90, n.3 (Jul.2000),

Keyes, George S.,  Mirror of empire. Dutch marine art of the Seventeenth Century, (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1990).

Latour, Bruno. Politiques de la nature: comment faire entrer les sciences en démocratie (Paris : La découverte, 2016).

Levinson, Marc. The box. How the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger (Princeton N.J: Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2006).

Nantes, Le rêve d’une ville: Nantes et le surréalisme (Nantes: musée des beaux-arts, 1994)

Quilley, Geoff, Empire to nation. Art, history and the visualization of maritime Britain, 1768-1829 (New Haven Conn, London: Yale University Press, 2011).

Stopford, Martin, Maritime economics (New York: Routledge, 2009, first published 1997)

Stauffer, Serge, Kunst als Forschung : essays, Gespräche, Übersetzungen, Studien (Zurich, Zhdk, 2013)

Swyngedouw, Erik. "Circulations and metabolisms:(hybrid) natures and (cyborg) cities." Science as Culture 15, no. 2 (2006): 105-121.

Vegetti, Marco, « Terra/mare – Aria », in Terra Mobile, Paolo Perulli, (ed.), (Turin, Einaudi, 2014),

SARN, Art Research Work, 8-9 December 2017, Zurich



All sessions are planned as a series of short talks (15mn), followed by a roundtable


9.30 Coffee and croissants

10am welcome and sessions overview (Gabriel Gee)

1 Friday 25 morning: Work and leisure (10.15-12am)


Vanessa Hirsch, curator (Altonaer Museum, Hamburg)

Giuliano Sergio (curator, School of Art, Urbino)

Johanna Bruckner (artist, zhdk, Zurich)

David Jacques (artist, Liverpool)

Mediator: Gabriel Gee


2 Friday 25 afternoon: socio-nature (1.30-4pm)


Alice Butler (AEMI, Dublin)

Cliona Harmey (artist, NCAD Dublin)

Anne-Laure Franchette (artist, Zurich)

Tuula Narhinen (artist, Helsinki)

Alison Vogelaar & Brack Hale (Franklin University, CH)

Mediator: Emily Scott

20h Group dinner

(Zeughauskeller Bahnofstrasse 28)



9.30 Coffee and croissants

3 Saturday 26 morning: commerce (10-12am)


Gregory Collavini (Artist, photographer, Fribourg)

Johannes Hedinger (artist, CH)

Gabriel Gee (Franklin University, CH)

Mediator: Damian Christinger


4 Saturday 26 Afternoon Global Interconnected histories(1.30-4pm)


Caroline Wiedmer (Franklin University, CH)

Monica Ursina Jäger (artist, Zurich)

Damian Christinger (independent curator, Zurich)

Cora Piantoni (artist, Zurich, TETI)

Mediator: Bryan Biggs

6pm Hinterland exhibition finissage

. Artists talks: Cliona Harmey and Monica Ursina Jäger



9.30 Coffee and croissants

5 Sunday 27 Morning : Dreamscapes (10-12am)


Conor McFeely (artist, Derry)

Aurèle Ferrier (artist, Zurich)

Bryan Biggs (Curator, Liverpool)

Claudia Stöckli (artist, Zurich)

Dorota Lukianska (artist, Gothenburg)

Mediator: Caroline Wiedmer



Session 1 Work and leisure

Vanessa Hirsch

Altona. A history of being different

As an historian working at Altonaer Museum, I focus on the cultural history of Altona, and of the region of Schleswig and Holstein, because this is what our museum is dealing with. Altona has been an independent city from 1664 to 1937, until it merged with Hamburg. Altona was given a town charter by the Danish crown in 1664, in order to encourage its growth as a city for commerce a port city and a place for commerce and manufacture.

Geographically, the city of Altona has always been extremely close to Hamburg, a port city and a center of trade and commerce in Northern Germany since the middle ages. The idea in 1664 was to create a competitor to Hamburg in its direct vicinity and increase the economic potential of the Danish crown which controlled the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, where Altona is situated, but not Hamburg and the region south of the Elbe.

In order to encourage people to trade in Altona, the town chapter expressively allowed things that were forbidden in Hamburg: the port was made northern Europe’s first Freeport, the manufacturers of goods were allowed mass production (which was not allowed in Hamburg), and most important of all, freedom of faith was guaranteed. That attracted people that were not allowed to practice their faith in Hamburg: Jews, Calvinists, Catholics, Mennonites. So, what makes Altona special is that it is – historically - an open city that welcomes foreigners. This is an aspect that is relevant for its inhabitants until today. Being liberal, being a bit different. Yet, it must be said that Hamburg has been the far more successful port city during the last three centuries, which is why Altona is not an independent city any more. Yet its history is different in many aspects, which is why it is still worth telling it and it is why we still have an entire museum for telling this history.

Historically, there has always been a close connection between Altona and its hinterland: The duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, a region that is shaped by its closeness to the sea. In Altona, the goods produced in the region, were traded. In regional culture, the sea is understood as a promise: new, and extremely fertile land can be gained by diking, agriculture can work for export as ports are close – but, on the contrary, the sea is a threat, floods can destroy everything in a couple of hours. The sea brings wealth for seamen or fishermen, but on the other hand, the profession is dangerous and ships can sink easily. Since the early 19th century, the sea attracts tourists: still a source of wealth today. As for the maritime business, things have changed a lot during the last decades.

I will try to talk about how this influences my museum work, trying to explain why the past is still influencing the present.

Giuliano Sergio

European Sea-port Narratives: Mirroring History in Contemporary Media

The waterfront and its charming influence on our imagination, changes from region to region. The seascape, the reflecting blue of its light between water and sky, is never the same from Naples to Apulia, from Venice to Amsterdam. It is impossible to translate this pictorial “impression” with objective data: humidity, latitude, temperature, and geography. These elements do not create the sense that emerges from the encounter with local anthropological culture. If the phenomenon of ports’ deindustrialization concerns all of Europe, if an artistic description of its consequences is a common need, then all contemporary narratives require a local and historical interpretation. These narratives create new layers to the city, even if they ignore its history and tradition.

This presentation provides some narrative examples of cityscapes using photography and video starting from one of the very first European projects on city-port post-industrial representation that took place in Naples in early eighties.

Johanna Bruckner

The Future of Work: Scaffolds and Agencies

A script for a role-playing game.

The substitution of human labor with robotic technologies is challenging European welfare systems, generating a complex debate about the policies that should be adopted to regulate this process. According to recent discussions between politicians and representatives of other positions in Europe, either robots or the companies using them should pay a tax, in order to lessen the social costs arising from automation’s displacement effect. This robot tax, some argue, should be used to finance a universal basic income. The robot tax ends up being a tax borne primarily by the manufacturing sector, and not by other sectors of the economy that will likely also invest heavily in automation, including autonomous vehicles in trucking and transport, smart conveyor belts in warehouses, electronic checkouts in retail, etc. However, former warehouse areas in particular are a testing ground for the practical and theoretical implementation of the robot tax, as well as for discussions as to the problems it may cause. This script for a role-playing game that does not confine itself to a consideration of a tax on robots that may indeed be introduced in the future, looks at the social and political impact of displacing a large physical labor force and replacing it with automation. Within this context, these notes identify and discuss ethical principles for the development and deployment of robots on social and civil life, leisure and work. 

David Jacques

North Canada – English Electric’

‘North Canada – English Electric’ (2009-10) is an installation consisting of 100 ‘doctored’ antique stereoviews and a narrated audio accompaniment. A preamble to the narration reads:

‘An ex-worker, habitually returns as an amateur photographer to the sites he previously worked at - the Port and the Industrial Estate. Both now exist in liminal zones, at the de-regulated, toxic edges of the city.

He’s been detained at the Port, detected and recorded on CCTV.

He’s about to be questioned about his activities, at which point a voice from ‘the supernatural’ intervenes…’


Session 2 Socio-Natures

Alice Butler

 Port River City

In this short presentation, writer and co-curator of aemi Alice Butler will discuss facets of a number of works that featured in port | river | city, a programme of screenings and site-specific moving image installations that took place in Dublin across the month of September in 2017. Co-curated with Daniel Fitzpatrick of aemi and artist Cliona Harmey - whose work, Endpoint played an integral role in the project’s two events on the Great South Wall and Custom House Quay - port | river | city included a number of works by artists interested in exploring ways (through swimming, walking, camping) of engaging with nature in port city environments. This talk will focus particularly on works by Vanessa Daws, Dan Shipsides, Peter Hutton and others which suggest a fascination with industry that is bound by an astute understanding and appreciation of the natural world. 

Cliona Harmey

Maritime signalling technology and the hinterland

Artist Cliona Harmey will discuss how maritime space and the liminal area between sea and land has historically been a frontier of experimentation and invention with communication and signalling technologies whose influence has subsequently radiated back in to the realm of the hinterland and the modern everyday.

Anne-Laure Franchette

They cleaned the beach before we arrived

This talk will focus on the marine debris such as seaweed and drifted wood that can be found on the Greek island of Amorgos. In the course of a visit that took place in April 2018, I got immersed in the local environment, the island’s unclear history of deforestation and its rich variety of endemic plants. Discussing with an herb expert, who harvests, dries, distils and distributes wild herbs products, I discovered a strong local lack of interest for the large amount of stranded seaweed, which is said to spoil the landscape and can merely be used for compost. On the beaches, large amounts of drifted wood can also be found. Most driftwood is the remains of trees washed into the ocean, by natural occurrences, or logging. They are often used in a variety of crafts. I got particularly interested in the multi folded character of these marine debris which can come from human craft, arrive on human shore as products of the sea and are occasionally reused as artefacts. In my own practice, I investigate the status and use of nature-made and man-made materials, and their symbolic associations. When it comes to exposing invisible structures, I see strong similarities between the categorising of the taxonomy of plants (invasive, decorative, useful), the system of labour (career ladder) and the hierarchy of creative practices (crafts and art). In this frame, I will look at the seaweed and floating wood as the meeting point between sea, coast and land, from maritime nature to culture and territorial reinventions.

Tuula Narhinen

Scavenging the Urban Shoreline

The talk sets out to explore the complexity and controversial nature of the environmental threat caused by plastic waste. For over 20 years I have had an opportunity to observe the Baltic Sea closely from a studio situated on Harakka island outside Helsinki. I will present four projects related to plastic detritus: Mermaid’s Tears (2007), Frutti di mare (2008), Baltic Sea Plastique (2014) and Impressions Plastiques (2016-). The works consider plastics and its adverse effects on the ecosystem from an aesthetic perspective. Art works made of plastic waste washed up to shore combine the plasticity of visual arts with the creative and resilient capacity of marine life revealing the challenge plastics present to marine life.

Brack Hale & Alison Vogelaar

The Postcolonial Garden City? Changing Representations of Nature in Christchurch, New Zealand

Our talk explores the changing representations of ‘nature’ and ‘the native’ in the specific context of New Zealand by examining the evolution of two notable and markedly different representations of urban nature in Christchurch: the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Riccarton Bush: both sites are interstitial spaces—literal and symbolic grounds on which the urban and wild, natural and synthetic have come into constant contact and articulation. Situated in the literatures of postcolonial conservation/ nature studies, our analysis explores colonial and postcolonial mindsets, practices, institutions and discourses as they have transformed the ways in which nature is represented in two important public landscapes in Christchurch.


Session 3 Commerce

Gregory Collavini

From smooth to striated spaces

Let’s talk about the ambiguous relation between landscape and human activity. What is land? And what is scape? As we all know, human interventions do harm a lot nature. But does nature as we recall even exist any more? As a matter of fact, landscape is a human invention. It is a perception, a point of view, a representation of the land. Thus, the vast majority of my works are based on these thoughts. Through various examples such as Conduite forcée (2010-2011), Silent Outlooks (2012-2016), Máni get back (2014), Variations on a theme of absence (2017-now) and a new series about the merchant marine, the talk aims to question how we handle our territorial environment.

Johannes Hedinger


BLOCH is a multidisciplinary, collaborative and participatory art project initiated by Swiss artist duo, Com&Com (Marcus Gossolt / Johannes M. Hedinger). The transdisciplinary project combines contemporary art with traditional popular culture and fosters dialogue between people, by sharing traditions, customs and stories from different cultures.

A BLOCH is called the lowest, branch-less, piece of a large tree trunk. According to an Appenzell custom bearing the same name, the stump of the last spruce to have been felled in winter is drawn back and forth between the two villages, Urnäsch and Herisau, by 20 men. At the end of this day-long procession, the BLOCH is then auctioned off to the highest bidder in Urnäsch village square. In 2011, Swiss art duo Com&Com were one of the first non-locals to purchase the BLOCH tree trunk at a historic peak price of CHF 3,000.-.

Since then BLOCH has been on its journey travelling around the world, making at least one stop on every continent. After first stations in Europe (Switzerland, Germany, Poland), Asia (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) and North America (USA, Canada), Bloch is currently in South Africa. The following stations are planed: Middle East (Palestine, Israel), South America (Columbia, Brasilia) and Australia (Tasmania). In the end Bloch is supposed to return to its origin in Switzerland (2022).

Bloch is a mise-en-scène with lots of chapters, it’s an experiment and an invitation to collaborate and participate for an active dialogue and exchange. The tree works with it as own medium and core of crystallization, asks questions and enables communication and collaboration. At each place, new actions, works and productions are developed in cooperation with local artists based on their traditions and customs, becoming part of a growing global Bloch-Archive and Network. Also it is not the goal is to spread a custom or a production across the globe as a form of cultural imperialism. The BLOCH and its story to date are an experiment, a lab, an invitation to work together, to take up an active dialogue, to participate, partake and foster cultural exchange.

Gabriel Gee

If novelty pleases: maritime commerce and industrious pressure

In the opening lines to a Tour through the whole island of Great Britain (1724), Daniel Defoe presents the reader with the impetus to his encyclopedic survey of territorial change in the 18th century British Isles: “If novelty pleases, here is the present state of the country described, the improvement, as well in culture, as in commerce, the increase of people, and employment for them; also here you have an account of the increase of buildings, as well in great cities and towns, as in the new seats and dwellings of the nobility and gentry; also the increase of wealth, in many eminent particulars.” The phrase was used as a meaningful epigraph by Francis Klingender in his own 1949 study on Art and the industrial revolution. Industry and industrious activity were reshaping the land in as yet unforeseen fashion, and the mode through which this revolution was taking place was tightly embedded to artistic technical and representational transformations. A couple of decades later, and after the adoption of shipping containers in the 1960, the photographer Allan Sekula pondered on the renewed importance of the sea as a major actor in the shaping of our global economies and cultures (2001). To some extent with Klingender, and versus Defoe’s fascinated account, Sekula pointed to global maritime trading routes and our global world consumerist culture as a blind spot in contemporary earthly human social developments. The world of commerce appears to historically tie the resonance of positive human connectivity and prosperity, and the negative assonance of degradation and competitive pressure, imprinted on landscapes and lived spaces. This paper goes back to Defoe’s mapping survey and Klingender’s reflection on the imbrication of art and industry to reflect on some present aesthetic dilemmas in assessing and/or mediating commercial agency in the global age.

Session 4 Global Interconnected histories

Caroline Wiedmer

Eldorado: Tracing Border Regimes from the Mediterranean to Switzerland

Since 2014 a largely invisible, ever-shifting and often contradictory latticework of agreements, laws and regulations have rendered the outer edges of the European continent the world's most treacherous border. In my talk I want to explore what that volatile exterior border means for the movement of refugees into the hinterlands of Europe, in particular into Switzerland, that curious country at the heart of Europe that is both included and excluded in the European Union. It has been useful for me to think both the invisible matrices regulating the maritime waters of the outer border as well as the dispersal of refugees along different routes into Europe with a recent film by Swiss filmmaker Marcus Imhof, entitled Eldorado (2018) which both uncovers and obscures how these borders operate by working with stark opposites between the visible and the invisible, the past and the present, and the legal and the illegal.

Damian Christinger

The Swiss merchant navy

Switzerland is the prrotopical hinterland. And yet, we have a merchant navy, that compromises more than 40 ships even today. In the haydyas hundreds of Swiss man came to be sailors, many of whom had never seen another country. What was their motivation, was there a certain literary romanticism involved? This talk will focus on a lost chapter of Swiss economic history while at the main time look at the motivations and reasons to set out, to what Joseph Conrad, a Pole, did a hundred years earlier.

Cora Piantoni

Connections: seafaring and storytelling

Cora Piantoni’s work is often concerned with the years before the Fall of the Wall and the political upheaval at the end of the Cold War. In extensive interviews, she is consulting participants of a historical event. Excerpts of these conversations form the soundtrack of her films and are the basis of her texts. At the same time, she develops with her conversation partners re-enactments of events from the past, moving images that represent a political or social situation.

Dialogue and collaboration are an important part of Piantoni’s artistic practice. Looking at a historical event from different perspectives together with its participants. Exchanging ideas with other artists. Building a community of ideas, images, perspectives.

Seafaring is an example for a variety of viewpoints, of connecting different worlds. The seafarers were the first to report about formerly unknown territories. They brought stories, objects and ideas from their passages. Navigation with its imaginative and speculative potential generates myths and legends, more than any other topic. The storyteller’s perspective and process using imagination, construction and reinvention to recollect historical events.

Monica Ursina Jäger

Singapore: Shifting topographies

The physical topography of Singapore and its neighbouring terrain have drastically changed in the last century. Singapore has levelled, reclaimed and developed its landscape. Several hills had been excavated while skyscrapers have compensated for the loss of elevation. The relationships between the built environment and natural spaces have shifted. Thanks to new architectural languages and attempts to achieve sustainable urban development, green spaces have started to climb facades and hover above the ground as sky gardens. In the case of Singapore, the term landscape seems no longer restricted to the horizontal. It has shifted its topography towards the vertical. Boundaries between built structures and natural spaces are reinvented. And while the original landscape is being homogenised, the architectural and natural forms generate more and more complex stratifications.

Monica Jäger explores land reclamation in Singapore, a port city without a hinterland. She will evoke a port city as global hub that is stripped from historical and cultural peculiarity, and of the port city as a machine. She will also reflect on this alternate hinterland, its shape shifting qualities and the manner through which we can think of it as a multilayered, three dimensional structure, rather than a linear maplike diagram.

Session 5 Dreamscapes

Bryan Biggs

The river reflects the heavens while it churns the dirt below

This presentation, which takes its title from music writer Paul Du Noyer’s description of the River Mersey, focuses on Liverpool, a port on the edge of Europe, globally connected through trade and, later, its cultural and sporting reputation. Despite once being gateway to the British Empire, Liverpool is not however a typically English city, in part due to its Transatlantic outlook and Celtic character. Like other seaports, it is an ‘edgy city’, where ‘time is always felt differently through the rhythms of the tides’ (Tony Wailey and Steve Higginson). Artists have harnessed this irregularity and the spaces it opens up, drawing on Liverpool’s history as a slave port, its absorption of American pop modernity, and the imaginings of Carl Gustav Jung who dreamt of Liverpool as ‘The Pool of Life’. Other artists discussed reflect contemporary migrations, contested territories and our current geopolitical context, including Brexit.   

Conor McFeely

Place, points of departure, making art in the north- west of Ireland- triggers for the voluntary and involuntary. From the telescopic to the microscopic- Weathermen and Pioneers.

Aurèle Ferrier

The consequences of the changes in maritime port cities and global networks permeate our everyday worlds and our real built environment to a great extent.

The traces of these changes are materialized in infrastructures, buildings, designs, arrangements, organizational structures, etc. The traces are omnipresent in a multitude of settings of living, work and market.

My current works try to unfold the traces and the language of such materialization.

My camera movements along architectural axes, corridors and organisational structures - and in the absence of people or moving machines - make the infrastructures, buildings, designs, arrangements, objects shown the main actors of the films and question their essence.

Many of the elements and textures I put on view in the films are highly communicative and tell about the world we are building and about values.

However, I would not classify my works in the category of dreamscapes, even if the emptiness of the people and their hypnotic, incessant flow of visual elements may have something dreamlike.

The settlement of the void of people may have a surreal, or perhaps rather a hyperreal effect.

However, these are not fantastic or surreal dreams, the works are ultimately nothing more than reflections on real textures.

When I look at the current examples in the areas of video/film/moving image, I see no strong tendency to explore the European borders and shores of current and future dreamscapes. According to my observation, it is more documentary approaches that try to depict reality.

Topics that can be attributed to the consequences of the changes in maritime port cities and global networks or the exploration of European borders and shores are perhaps most likely to deal with 

Work (e.g. Harun Farocki's film night in Munich)

Migration (various short films that make media headlines and figures of fatalities in the Mediterranean real in documentaries/fictions). Ai Weiwei's engagement with The Human Flow should also be mentioned here.

Arab world. At IDFA Amsterdam, among others, this was a special focus.

Claudia Stöckli

A sound dive into the deep ocean, leaving the anthropocentrism for a collective experience to rethink a possible future co-existence within all species,

including the non-human species. borderless.

«The burden of responsibility is consequently placed on us to develop new tools of analysis for the web of relations with non-human others that characterize the formation of the concept.

The displacement of anthropocentrism and the recognition of trans-species solidarity are based on the awareness of „our“ being in “this“ together. That to say: environmentally based, embodied and embedded

and in symbiosis with each other.» (Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Theory)

Learning from the deep abyss, encountering deep sea creatures — bone-eating worms which live at hydrothermal vents and

which are playing a crucial role to recycle carbon in the worlds oceans and its importance towards climate change.

(Then back to the surface of the water, to the breathable habitat, to follow the subjective and collective response-ability,

to todays cross-border politics in the mediterranean sea. )

Dorota Lukianska

I would like to present 2 of my works.

The first one is my 9 years long project Farewell and Welcome reports. This is a text based work that is in a book-form. I have been writing every day since 2006 until 2014 reports of farewell-taking and welcoming acts. Its influenced of the captains logbook and this work is the beginning of navigation, storytellings and myths interest I have today. I will read up some reports.

The second work is the installation Desire to do good while it can always get worse. This work started 2015 and still goes on and develops for every new exhibition. The starting point is Sagres in Algarve; the southwestern-most point of continental Europe. It is an area rich with history, myths, storytellings and in ancient times was thought to be the edge of the inhabited world. I would like to show some documentation of the installation. The work consists of surrealistic, half fictive/half real constellation of stories, sculptures and historical persons.


Participants: short biographies

Johanna Bruckner, artist, zhdk, Zurich

Johanna Bruckner (*born in Vienna in 1984) is an artist who is based between Hamburg and Zurich. Her work was shown internationally, most recently, at KW, Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; the Migros Musem für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; the Villa Croce, Museum for Contemporary Art, Genoa; the Kunsthaus in Hamburg; the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, and Galleri Box, and she is now preparing a solo exhibition in Bern. Bruckner has lectured at various universities and institutions including the Bauhaus University of Weimar, the Lucerne School of Art and Design, Zurich University of the Arts and the BAC Center Contemporain in Geneva. Her work was arwarded by numerous grants, she received the Hamburg Stipendium for Fine Arts (2016), was awarded a scholarship holder for the overseas artist studio program at the Banff Center for Visual Arts in Canada in 2015; and she is currently a fellow at the Sommerakademie Paul Klee (2017-19). In her recent work, she has been looking at and exploring the Hafencity in Hamburg, from which she will draw in her contribution to the workshop.

Bryan Biggs, Artistic Director, Bluecoat Art Centre, Liverpool

Bryan Biggs Is currently Artistic Director of Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts. He became Bluecoat Artistic Director in 2006, having been its Gallery Director 1976-1994 and Bluecoat Arts Centre Director 1994-2006, overseeing a programme of contemporary visual, performing and live art, participation projects and an award-winning £14 million capital development (opened in 2008), working with Rotterdam practice, BIQ Architecten.

As Artistic Director, he returned to focus on Bluecoat’s artistic programmes and direction. Previously, as Gallery Director, he curated numerous exhibitions and events by artists, from the regional to the international, working across the visual arts spectrum. Much of this work was issue-based, culturally diverse and collaborative, including Trophies of Empire, which interrogated the legacies of Britain’s imperial past through the responses of contemporary artists. Bluecoat exhibitions curated since the 2008 refurbishment include Under the Volcano: An Exhibition for Malcolm Lowry (2009); Democratic Promenade (2011); Archiving the Arts Centre (2013); and Public View and In the Peaceful Dome (both 2017), which celebrated Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary, and an accompanying archive display charting the building’s development as the UK’s oldest arts centre.

He has guest curated exhibitions including New Contemporaries (1986) and The Art School Dance Goes On Forever, an exhibition looking at archetypal art school band Deaf School, at the Exhibition Research Centre, Liverpool John Moores University (2013). He was on the curating team for Liverpool Biennial International 2002, and presented, with Live Art Development Agency, the You Are Here live art programme; Liverpool Biennial Made Up 2008 exhibition; and curated an exhibition of Liverpool art, Walk On, for the Shanghai Biennale, 2006.  He has developed international networks through exchange and other opportunities for artists in Germany, notably the ongoing Eight Days A Week cultural exchange programme between Liverpool and its twin city, Cologne.

He was Visiting Fellow, Winchester School of Art 2009-12, and Visiting Professor, Art and Design Academy, Liverpool John Moores University 2011-14. Has advised on curriculum development at Liverpool John Moores University and University of Salford.

He is editor/co-editor of many art and pop cultural publications, including: Liverpool: City of Radicals, Bluecoat and Liverpool University Press (2011) ; Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World, Bluecoat and Liverpool University Press (2009) ; Art in a City Revisited, Bluecoat and Liverpool University Press (2008) ; Re-publication of John Willett: Art in a City (1967), Bluecoat and Liverpool University Press (2007) ; Trophies of Empire, Bluecoat, Arnolfini Bristol, Hull Time Based Arts (1994).

Alice Butler

Alice Butler is a writer, film programmer and co-curator of aemi, an organisation that supports and exhibits artist & experimental moving image work. She has written for Sight and Sound, SET Magazine, Paper Visual Art, Enclave Review, VAN, EFS Publications and CIRCA. She regularly presents screenings at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and she has lectured or participated in panels on the moving image at IMMA, PLASTIK Festival of Artists’ Moving Image, IFI, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Galway Arts Centre, UCD, DIT, TBG+S and Coláiste Dhúlaigh.

Damian Christinger, curator, Zurich

Damian Christinger (b. 1975) studied East Asian Art History in Zurich. Following extended sojourns in Bolivia, Japan, and China, he is now a gallerist and freelance exhibition organizer, currently serving as visiting curator at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich. 

‘Damian Christinger studierte Asiatische Kunstgeschichte und Interkulturelle Studien. Er war der Mitbegründer der Projekt-Galerie Christinger De Mayo, die auf künstlerische Positionen aus Lateinamerika spezialisiert war und im Dezember 2015 ihre Pforten schloss. Seither arbeitet er als freier Kurator für verschiedene Institutionen und lehrt an der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. Sein Hauptfokus gilt der Konstruktion des Anderen in transkulturellen Beziehungen. Seine letzte Ausstellung im Museum Rietberg untersuchte die Beziehung einer städtischen Sammlung nicht-europäischer Kunst zu seinem Publikum mit Interventionen von 21 Schweizer Kunstschaffenden. Er war Gast-Kurator des TBA21 Projekts „The Current“ 2015/16. Seine jetzigen Projekte inkludieren so unterschiedliche Themen wie die Geschichte des Curry, die Schweizer Handelsmarine und die kulturellen Topographien Singapurs als Mitherausgeber der Publikation „Happy Tropics 1“.

Gregory Collavini, Artist, photographer, Fribourg

Gregory Collavini is a photographer based in Fribourg. Recent works include a series on noise-control walls buit in Switzerland, and water supply and energy in Switzerland.

‘Gregory Collavini, né à Berne en 1988, a passé son enfance en Gruyère. Diplômé de lʹECAL, il se met rapidement à son compte en tant que photographe indépendant. 
Le travail photographique présenté dans son ouvrage "Silent Outlooks" (Ed. Favre) porte sur les murs antibruit, qui sont érigés un peu partout dans le pays afin dʹoffrir une isolation phonique à des secteurs spécifiques. Gregory Collavini utilise ces murs comme prétexte pour illustrer sa vision du paysage suisse actuel. Il est également l’auteur d’une série sur les ressources en eau et énergie en Suisse, qui fera l’objet de sa présentation dans le cadre de l’atelier Hinterland.’

Aurèle Ferrier, artist, Zurich

Aurèle Ferrier, b. 1975 in St.Gallen (Switzerland), currently lives in Zurich.
He gained a BA in Theatre and an MA in Fine Arts, at the Zurich University of the Arts.
His video and cinematic works, actions and interventions explore the limits and connections between nature and civilization. His cinematic works display a calm contemplation and visual precision. With video works such as Infrastructure and the 2017 Transitions, Ferrier explores the hinterland channels of continental human circulation, seen from a spectral, eery, rumination.

Anne-Laure Franchette, artist, VOLUMES, Zurich

Anne Laure is fascinated by cultural perception and the history that shaped cultural construction, her research is informed by western fantasies, the reflection of the unfamiliar and the ways cultures are consumed.  Materials, their intended use and the stereotypes they carry are also a constant source of her interest and she is especially interested in categorisations, cycles of production and misappropriation. Her current artistic research looks at the systems of meaning that have been impressed upon nature, flora, and seeds throughout eras of imperialism, colonialism, and globalization. To be more specific, the common perceptions and representations of nature being « neutral », « passive » and « decorative ».

Particularly interested in sociocultural anthropology, urban research, underground artistic networks and the micro-economy of art, she has also been collecting a rich documentation about alternative art scenes, off spaces and self publishing. Following this compilation of data, she designs tools and events that enable the general public to be more aware of those practices. Since arriving in Zürich in 2013, she has initiated the ZURICH ART SPACE GUIDE and VOLUMES, Independent Art Publishing Fair. Anne-Laure will more specifically present her work on plant migration, her interest in invasive species, and their anthropomorphic symbolic ramifications.

Gabriel Gee, Franklin University, CH

Gabriel N. Gee is Associate Professor in Art History and Visual Cultures at Franklin University, Switzerland. He holds a PhD in contemporary art history from the université Paris X Nanterre (2008). His doctoral research focussed on Aesthetics and politics in the North of England from the 1980s onwards. His study on Art in the North of England. 1979-2008" was published by Ashgate (now Routledge) in 2017. After a postdoctoral position at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure in Lyon, he joined Franklin University in 2011, where he teaches contemporary art history and theory. His current research interests include 20th century British and Irish art, the changing representations and imaginaries of port cities in the second half of the 20th century, as well as interconnected global histories, with a particular interest in urban and architectural representation. Upcoming publications include a co-edited publication (with Alison Vogelaar) on the changing representation of Nature in cities in the 1960s -1970s, stemming from a SNF funded workshop organized in 2014 in Lugano, to be published by Routledge in the Spring of 2018. He is the co-founder of the TETI Group, for Textures and Experiences of Transindustriality.

Brack Hale, Franklin University, CH

Brack Hale is Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, as well as Co-Director of the Center for Sustainability Initiatives at Franklin University. He teaches courses in Franklin's environmental studies program, including core courses such as Introduction to Environmental Science and Conservation Biology. His scholarly publications include papers on floodplain forest ecology and management, water quality, ecosystem management, and the social costs of energy. His research has involved field experiences in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico). His research interests include the ecology and conservation of riparian and freshwater systems, the role of sustainability in higher education (particularly off campus study), and invasive species and natural heritage.
He is a member of the Ecological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association and the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences.

Cliona Harmey, artist, NCAD Dublin

Cliona’s work is influenced by contemporary and historical technologies, technical histories, contemporary sculpture and DIY electronics. She is interested in different ways of making elements of ephemeral/ live information/data more concrete or tangible through sculpture, software, film, photography and electronics.

Specific areas of interest include : communication technologies, infrastructure, sculpture, electronics, software hardware, artists engagements with technology, public art/ audience engagement. Recent projects include Dublin Ships (2015), a major temporary public artwork commissioned by Dublin City Council as part of their “Interaction and the City” Public Art Programme with support from the Dublin Port Company, Dublin Docklands Development Authority (2015); and Port-River City, a series of artistic interventions and screenings held in Dublin in September 2017.

Johannes Hedinger, artist, Zurich

Johannes Hedinger is an artist, curator, art historian, writer and scholar. studies at ZHdK Zurich, University of Zurich, Humboldt University of Berlin, UDK Berlin and UCLA Los Angeles. Lecturer at ZHdK Zurich and University of Cologne. Founder and Director of Alps Art Academy. Web:,,

He is part of Com&Com, which he launched in 1997 with Marcus Gossolt. They live and work in Zurich, St Gallen and London. Participation in nine art biennials (Venice, Shanghai, Moscow, Singapore, Sharjah et al.) and solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Zurich, Kunst-Werke Berlin and Knockdown Center New York; over 190 exhibitions and 25 short films. From Com&Com coins the „Mocmoc“ (2003-08), Gugusdada (since 2004), „Point de Suisse“ (2014/15) and “Bloch” (since 2011).

Dr. Vanessa Hirsch, Deputy Director, Altonaer Museum, Hamburg

Vanessa Hirsch studied art history as well as constitutional, social and economic history in Bonn and Leicester. She holds a PhD from the Humboldt University Berlin, with a thesis dedicated to the Californian installation artist Robert Irwin. Since 2005, she has been a research associate at the Altonaer Museum, Hamburg, and since 20011 its deputy director. She curates exhibitions and oversees interdisciplinary research on the cultural history of Northern Germany, in particular in relation to the Elbe river and Altona (a former Danish city) and Hamburg maritime connections, as well as on optical perception and on the history of visual media. Her projects include contemporary art in exhibitions on historical topics as often as possible.

Selected exhibitions:

Alles im Fluss. Ein Panorama der Elbe / In flux. A panoramatic view on the river Elbe (exhibition, co-curator, 2006)

Land am Meer. Die Küsten von Nord- und Ostsee / Land at the Sea. The coasts of the Northern and the Baltic Sea (exhibition, co-curator, 2009)

Jaro Straub: Koppelnavigation / Dead Reckoning (exhibition, curator, 2009)

Stille Bauern und kernige Fischer. Norddeutschland in der Fotografie / Quiet peasants and Sturdy Fishermen. Northern Germany in Photography (exhibition, curator, 2015)

Die Elbe. Fluss ohne Grenzen / The River Elbe. River Without Borders (conference, co-organizer, 2015)

David Jacques, artist, Liverpool

David Jacques is a multi-media artist primarily involved with film. His practice engages with the subject of History, its narrative interpretations and the interplay between factual and fictional strategies of representation. His interest in deconstructing and re-apportioning the subject often results in the exploration of forgotten, marginalised and socially/politically disruptive sources. In 2010 he won the Liverpool Art Prize and was shortlisted for the Northern Art Prize. Recent screenings of his work include; Tate Liverpool ‘Art turning Left’, 17th International Video Festival VIDEOMEDEJA, Novi Sad Serbia, WNDX Film Festival, Winnipeg Canada
and Sheffield Fringe at BLOC Projects Sheffield. David will present some of his recent works exploring economic and industrial textures in the port of Liverpool, in particular North Canada – English electrics (2010), as well as musing on the historical management of coastal land as exemplified by The Dyonisians of West Lancs (2014).

Monica Ursina Jäger, artist, Zurich

Monica Ursina Jäger is a Swiss artist and lecturer living in London and Zurich. Her multidisciplinary practice engages with spatial experiences both within the natural and constructed environment. Jäger makes drawings, sculptures and installation works through which she acknowledges the multifaceted nature of the spatial experience and the rich history of its representation. Her cognitive-map-like use of imagery, alongside linear architectural structures, gives one a sense of both everyday and fantastical moments of overlap between the many signifiers by which we ‘read’ physical environments and recall our experiences of them. Recent works address the uncertainties of geopolitics related to natural resources and man-made construction. Interdisciplinary projects include urban planning, green infrastructures and narrative environments in public spaces. 

Jäger studied in Singapore and London and gained her MA at Goldsmiths College. She has exhibited widely nationally and internationally, e.g., Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Kunstmuseum Thun, Haus für Kunst Uri, Galeria Pilar Sao Paulo, Kunstmuseum Chur, Sammlung Essl Klosterneuburg/Wien, Haus Konstruktiv Zurich, Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Kunstverein Pforzheim. Winner of the Swiss Art Award 2007. Monica Ursina Jäger is a research associate and lecturer at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences IUNR, University of Applied Sciences Zurich ZHAW.  ZHAW Research in Sustainability and Communication

Dorota Lukianska, artist, Gothenburg

Dorota Lukianska was born in Szczecin/Poland in 1974, she lives and works in Berlin - Germany and Gothenborg – Sweden. Dorota has a long-standing interest in maritime cultures, which she has explored in particular in the past few years with the Zurich based artist Cora Piantoni. She is currently looking at the maritime cultural heritage of Galicia, in North Western Spain.

She has MA from Konstfack, Photography,  Stockholm, Sweden (1999-2001)and a BA from Högskola för  fotografi, Photography, BA, Göteborg, Sweden (1996-99). Recent exhibitions include : in 2017 Desire to do good while it can always get worse, Centro de Interpretação, Vila do Bispo, Portugal ; Revision, 3 Våningen, Göteborg ; A lot A lot, Galleri Thomassen, Göteborg ; in 2016 Binz 39, Zürich, Schweiz, Galerie der Künstler, Münich ; in 2015 Casa do Infante, Mira Forum, Maus Habitos, Porto, Portugal ; in 2014 Minimale, Producentengalerie Luzern, Schweiz, HEURIGES 014, Aussetellungsraum, Wienna, HEURIGES 014, Kunsthalle M3, Berlin, Voices from Waters, Sjöfartmuseet, Göteborg, Skankaloss, Gagnef festitival, Gagnef, Workshop, Casa do Infante and Maus Habitos, Porto, Portugal, Påsksalong, Galleri Thomassen, Göteborg.

Conor McFeely, artist, Derry

Conor McFeely lives and works in Derry N.Ireland. His work incorporates a wide range of processes, from the ready–made to sculpture and installation, as well as photography, video and audio. A fracturing and manipulation of ‘material’ in the service of finding new relationships is a chief characteristic of his practice. Often conceived as multi-layered in terms of their reading, many works have been driven by ruminations on the nature of individual freewill, choice and autonomy. Contexts and source material reflect interests in a history of counter culture, literature and social contexts. In projects such as the Weathermen project, McFeely explored the intersection of revolutionary politics with global representation. Ruminations on the spatial and spiritual positioning of Islanders have been the object of works such as How Irish is it? and the video Imperial City.  The work of McFeely is both global in its outreach, and layered with local references to Irish geography and history, amounting to a cosmological reflection taking in the Irish Isles imperial past and self-questioning identities in the age of digital mutations. McFeely will share his reflections and works exploring the connectivity of Ireland, and more specifically Northern Ireland, as a region of the United Kingdom, at a time of acute uncertainty on the north-western European border.

Tuula Narhinen, artist, Helsinki

Tuula Närhinen (b. 1967) is a visual artist based in Helsinki, Finland. Her works explore the pictorial agency of natural phenomena such as water and wind. Re-adapting instruments derived from natural sciences, she has developed methods for letting trees trace the shape of wind on their branches and found techniques that the enable the waves of the sea to inscribe themselves on paper. Her installations showcase the DIY instruments implicated, encouraging the spectator to participate in the re-presentation of an event. Tuula will discuss recent works such as Baltic Sea Plastic, sculptural forms made out of plastic found on the sea shore in Helsinki, and Impressions plastiques, embroideries made out of plastic explosive used by Helsinki city to design infrastructural network in the sea bed.

Närhinen holds a Doctorate of Fine Arts (DFA) from the University of the Arts Helsinki. She is a graduate of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (MFA), and the Helsinki University of Technology (M.Sc. in Architecture).

Cora Piantoni, artist, Zurich

Cora Piantoni is an artist, pho­to­gra­pher and film­ma­ker, wor­king with oral history and re-​​enactment. She is inte­re­sted in poli­ti­cal situ­ations and their effect on people’s eve­ry­day life, on survi­val stra­te­gies and resi­stance movements. Recent bodies of work have explored collective cooperative working in Gdansk and pirate radio in Genova in the 1970s. She pursues an ongoing interest in the past and present imaginaries of European port cities through a focus on industrial memories and experiences.

She gra­du­ated from the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich and the Uni­ver­sity of Art and Design, Zurich where she lives and works. She has exhi­bi­ted her work in solo and group shows inter­na­tio­nally, in Poland, Czech Repu­blic, Swe­den, Ger­many, Hol­land and Swit­zer­land. In 2004 she was awar­ded the Bava­rian State Spon­sor­ship Award for Pho­to­gra­phy and in 2010 the HWP-​​Grant by the Bava­rian Mini­stry for Rese­arch and Art and was as artist in resi­dence in Klenova/​CZ, Dres­den and at WYSPA, Gdansk.

David Jacques, artist, Liverpool

Emily Scott, ETH, Zurich

Emily Eliza Scott is an interdisciplinary scholar, artist, and former U.S. National Park Service ranger focused on contemporary art and design practices that engage pressing ecological and/or geo-political issues, often with the intent to actively transform real-world conditions. Currently postdoctoral fellow in the architecture department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), she teaches on subjects ranging from the concept of “post-nature” to contemporary architecture “in the expanded field” to the emergent geographies climate change. She is the coeditor, with Kirsten Swenson, of Critical Landscapes: Art, Space, Politics (University of California Press, 2015) and her essays have appeared in Art Journal, American Art, Third Text, Social Text, Cultural Geographies as well as multiple edited volumes. She is also a founding member of two long-term, collaborative projects: World of Matter (2011-), an international art and research platform on global resource ecologies, and the Los Angeles Urban Rangers (2004-), a group that develops guided hikes, campfire talks, field kits, and other interpretive tools to spark creative explorations of everyday habitats in their home megalopolis and beyond.

Her work has been supported by major grants/awards from Creative Capital with the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, College Art Association, American Council of Learned Societies, Luce Foundation, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Annenberg Foundation, and Switzer Foundation.

Giuliano Sergio, curator, Venice, Professor in Art History, School of Art, Urbino

Giuliano Sergio is a professor in art history at the Academy of Fine Arts in Urbino. He obtained his joint PhD from the Univeristé de Paris X / Università di Roma “La Sapienza”. He taught at the Université Paris 7, IUAV in Venice, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and in Naples, as well as the NABA in Milan. His publications include Information document oeuvre. Parcours de la photographie en Italie dans les années soixante et soixante-dix (Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2015), Atlante degli archivi fotografici e audiovisivi italiani digitalizzati (Marsilio, 2015) and Ugo Mulas. Vitalità del negativo (Johan & Levi, 2010). The most important exhibitions he has curated and co-curated include: Julia Margaret Cameron, Florence Henri, Francesca Woodman. The art of the feminine (Villa Pignatelli, Naples 2017), Paolo Gioli. Corpi favoriti dalla notte (IIC Madrid 2017), the itinerant installation La montagne de Venise by Yona Friedma with Jean-Baptiste Decavèle (Querini Stampalia/IUAV, Venice 2016), Ugo Mulas La photographie (Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, Paris 2016), Paesaggi d’aria. Luigi Ghirri e Yona Friedman/Jean-Baptiste Decavèle (Querini Stampalia, Venice 2015), Luigi Ghirri. Pensare per immagini (MAXXI, Rome 2013 and Instituto Moreira Salles, San Paolo and Rio de Janeiro 2013-2014), Ugo Mulas Esposizioni (Milan Triennale 2012) Bas Princen (Casa dell’Architettura, Rome 2011). He coordinated a study day on Ugo Mulas at the Centre Pompidou in Paris with Clément Chéroux (2011).

Giuliano will bring his expert knowledge in the history or Italian photography in the second half of the 20th century to the workshop, highlighting its engagement with paradigmatic transformations of the Italian territory and landscapes during the period.

Claudia Stöckli, artist, Zurich

Claudia Stöckli works within geo- and sociopolitical contexts, between music, sound, performance, photography, ceramics and installation in the field of contemporary art and music. She transforms the interweaves scientific and her own poetic texts with sound. 

She builds up installations where she specifically places her own sculptural works, then uses them as tools for her performances.

Alison Vogelaar, Associate Professor of Communication, Franklin University, CH

Alison E. Vogelaar, in addition to her role as Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies is also a member of the Center for Sustainability Initiatives. Vogelaar received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Colorado-Boulder where she also completed a certification program in the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. As a faculty member in the Communication and Media Studies program she teaches courses that explore the relationship between media, communication and power. She regularly teaches a course cross-listed in the Environmental Studies program called Environmental Discourses as well as a First Year SeminarGlobalization, Media, and Movements and an Academic Travel course, Symbolizing Scottish Folk.  Her research interests include environmental and ecological discourses, advocacy and activism, maker movements and spaces, and sustainability in higher education. Her recent publications include two pieces that alternately explore the functions of place in the OWS movement as well as an article that examines the ecological 'controversy' and discourses surrounding 'invasive species'. She presently is working on two edited volumes: one that surveys the diverse genres and approaches to 'environmental collapse' in popular, political and academic texts, ie Vogelaar, A. E., Hale, B. W. and Peat, A. P. (eds) (forthcoming). The Discourses of Environmental Collapse. Routledge, and the second co-edited with Gabriel Gee that explores the changing representations of nature and the city in the context of contemporary global transformations: Gee, G. and Vogelaar, A. E. (eds) (forthcoming). Nature and City: Changing Representations, 1960s-1970s. Routledge 2018.

Caroline Wiedmer, Professor of Comparative Literature, Franklin University, CH

Caroline Wiedmer is the author and editor of a number of books, including The Claims of Memory: Representations of the Holocaust in Contemporary Germany and France (Cornell University Press, 1999), Inventing the Past: Memory Work in Culture and History (Schwabe Verlag Basel, 2005, together with Otto Heim), Motherhood and Space: Configurations of the Maternal in Politics, Art and the Everyday (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, with Sarah Hardy) and The Intersections of Law and Culture (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, with Priska Gisler and Sara Steinert Borella). She has received research fellowships from the University of London, the Center for Gender Studies of the University of Basel, Princeton University, Stanford University, the Collegium Helveticum at the ETH in Zürich and the Center for Advanced German and European Studies of the Freie Universität of Berlin. In the Department of Literature and Culture she teaches classes on memory, poverty, law and culture, catastrophe, and urban studies. Her classes in German Studies focus on Swiss-German Film and Migration. Her research interests include memory studies, gender, film, law and culture, spatiality, and the workings of narrative in multiple domains of cultural and intellectual life. She is currently at work on a study of representations of refugees against the background of European asylum regimes  and the regulation of the Mediterranean, which  will inform her participation to Hinterland.

The research encounter is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Franklin University, CH.