Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Compagnie Drift at 9th Bharat Rang Mahotsav

Compagnie Drift performed in New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai. [dated January 2007]

The Zurich based dance company –Compagnie Drift has performed in 27 countries and staged over 600 performances. They examine subtly and humorously the absurdities of everyday life. Bizarre images from the medieval world reflect a society whose emotions veer wildly between drunken comedy and a real fear of death.

Béatrice Jaccard and Peter Schelling of Compagnie Drift received the Swiss Dance & Choreography award for 2007 at the Berner Tanztage, a contemporary dance festival held in Berne on 6 June 2007.

Indian audiences in New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai enjoyed the show and the Company received good reviews from the Indian press and media.

Hindustan Times, New Delhi / 12 January 2007 
 “For Delhites the treat was as delectable as Swiss chocolates! The metaphor best describes the performance. The well synchronised choreography was a sight to watch.”

Deccan Herald, Bangalore / 21 January 2007
“The performance was unique and scintillating. Brilliant lighting, excellent dance and mime, mind blowing colour scheme techniques made it a special occasion in the true sense.”

The Statesman, Kolkata / 1 January 2007
“Members of Compagnie Drift gave an inspiring performance. Undoubtedly a great performance that can be seen time and again.”

DNA, Mumbai / 18 January 2007
“The show which refuses to be classified in any genre is a blend of ballet, acrobatics and mime. The absence of narrative leaves the performance open to multiple interpretations.”

The Indian Express, New Delhi / 10 January 2007
“Dark, melancholic and hypnotising, a comedy of errors, you keep searching for the right word to describe Hell’s Bells & Furtive Folly.” 
Passages 43: India and Switzerland

The featured edition of Passages is devoted to the subject of 'India and Switzerland'. [dated January 2007]

So Near - So far' Editorial of the special issue
Pro Helvetia opens its first outpost in Asia at the beginning of January 2007: a liaison office in New Delhi. This new office will do more than assist Swiss cultural producers hoping to make inroads in India, it will also set new accents in mutual cultural exchange. And in the process, it will be able to build on existing cultural relations, expanding them through new partnerships.

Whether ashrams or Alps: India and Switzerland are not linked by their reciprocal yearnings alone, but equally by things they so obviously have in common, though perhaps in very different dimensions. We need only think of federalism, multilingualism and multiculturalism.

The present issue of Pro Helvetia's cultural magazine Passages hopes to open readers' eyes to these shared aspects, without resorting to rose-coloured glasses. But it also wants to highlight differences. All with a view to illuminating the backdrop against which cultural cooperation must prove itself.
You will receive a first-hand impression of what makes cultural life in India tick. From the standpoint of authors from Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. How does India's multilingualism compare with our own quadrilingualism? What is the nature of India's struggle for cultural identity between globalization and tradition? How does India view the legacy of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier?

But you will also find out about Swiss artists' perceptions of India, why we enjoy Bollywood films, what intrigued Swiss artist Alice Boner about India, what connects Basle with Kolkata and, finally, what draws Indian tourists to the Titlis.

Take advantage of the fascinating opportunity offered by the Pro Helvetia liaison office in New Delhi and join Passages in observing perspectives shift between two partners with a genuine desire to know each other better.  
Opportunities - exchanges and point of views

Tilmann Waldraff, former Regional Director of the Goethe Institute in South Asia writes for Pro Helvetia New Delhi [dated January 2007]

With the opening of its New Delhi office, Pro Helvetia is starting a new chapter in the history of cultural exchange between India and Switzerland. What does this commitment mean in terms of international cultural work? Tilmann Waldraff, former Regional Director of the Goethe Institute in South Asia, hazards a guess at what lies in store for the new Pro Helvetia office.

Some considerations on the occasion of the opening of the Pro Helvetia liaison office in India.
Few people in India actually know much about Switzerland. Even educated Indians generally react with an embarrassed laugh when asked about this country, as they are aware that the first idea that occurs to them - the mountain landscapes familiar to them as the setting for romantic scenes in Bollywood films - hardly amounts to an in-depth knowledge of Switzerland. Then they come up with a few obvious phrases: "chocolate", "banks", "precision instruments", "languages that aren't spoken in India" - and perhaps even, "Oh yes, Le Corbusier - wasn't he Swiss?" when they think of Chandigarh.
So what chance is there for a newly set up cultural liaison office in India? Every chance, actually!
Indians are open-minded and inquisitive - especially about the West - and their booming economy is giving them an even greater thirst for information and exchange than before. Another positive factor is that, while few people have any very concrete ideas concerning Switzerland, at least they do not come up with negative associations either. Switzerland has never been a colonialist power, it did not take part in the wars of the last century, and it is not suspected of harbouring any kind of imperialism or fundamentalism.

However, there are also limitations, four of which are listed here and discussed in terms of their impact on the work of the new Swiss office:

1) To begin with, there will be only one Swiss cultural institution in the whole of the huge, culturally diverse subcontinent of India, apart from the cultural departments attached to the consulates.
It will be an enormous task for a single office to involve even the most important cultural regions, represented by their urban centres, in its work in an effective manner. This will necessitate paying great attention to the different cultural scenes, flexibility, keeping up to date with new developments and, of course, comprehensive data collection.

2) This institution will not take the form of a traditional cultural institute with premises for a great diversity of activities, such as those maintained in India by the British, French, Germans and Japanese, but will, instead, be a liaison office with a basic infrastructure and few staff.
The need to enter into partnerships, if only for reasons of space and on organisational grounds, could in fact be seen as an advantage, since this will inevitably lead to fruitful encounters in terms of content too. And, as the number of activities held outside Delhi rises, the fact that the office does not have its own facilities for staging events will become less significant.
It is not quite so easy to find alternative solutions for another important aspect of the work of a cultural institute: in a lively cultural centre, people are constantly meeting up, either intentionally or by chance. Meetings like these introduce the participants to fresh ways of thinking and new topics, projects and concepts. The liaison office will have to find alternative means of communication for this aspect of its work - i.e. the institute as a melting pot which produces new ideas. 

3) The office's remit restricts it to "culture in the narrow sense": in other words, the fine arts, music, theatre, dance, film, literature and also design.
The time when concerts, film series, theatre productions or exhibitions could simply be "put on" and left at that is now in the past. In order to carry out effective cultural work it is essential to provide opportunities for a deeper understanding of the themes broached in the main event. Other events should be organised as a matter of course, to complement or elaborate on the main one. These need to involve experts from the discipline in question. And this quickly leads to related areas such as sociology and psychology that are not necessarily "cultural" in the narrower sense of the word, and it would be regrettable if these could not be included.

4) The target group is defined as an educated urban audience in all parts of India, not just Delhi.
Cultural interests and ambitions are mainly to be found in the Indian middle classes, which are growing rapidly, as are the opportunities at their disposal. It remains to be seen how far the interests and requirements of the newly affluent diverge from those of the traditional middle class.
It is clear that the work of a foreign cultural institution has to begin with this social group. An institution such as the one planned cannot address the needs of the (new) upper class, whose members fly to London to do their shopping, but nor is it able to tackle cultural and educational work at grassroots level, and this cannot therefore constitute part of its primary tasks.

Finally, two other aspects need to be  considered briefly. Cultural exchanges tend to be talked about far more than they are put into practice. Whenever an artist travels to India to show examples of his or her work and returns home enriched by new impressions, this does of course constitute an exchange up to a point. But, contrary to current practice, genuine exchange would also mean bringing much more Indian art to Europe.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) certainly makes some contribution in this respect, but mostly at the level of simply "putting on" an event. The structure and budget of the official Indian cultural establishment do not stretch any further. This is an area where it would be worthwhile to step in and offer support, and to assist Indian artists and other cultural practitioners in forging contacts with Swiss institutions and sponsors.

To conclude: culture always expresses a particular point of view. "There is simply no point in hiding behind the fig leaf of "neutrality", which, in any case, is fiction." (Barbara Basting in the January 2006 Newsletter edition.) This begins with an uncompromising commitment to quality (and thus a rejection of mediocrity) in art and extends to the adoption of a position - not on everyday political issues, but rather on the major questions that concern us today, wherever we may find ourselves: human rights, violence, democracy...

A cultural institution which shies away from tackling such themes, thus pushing a crucial aspect of art to one side, would not deserve its name and would not win the respect of its target audience. This also holds true when mainstream public opinion is not wholly behind the institution in question.
Switzerland is a relative latecomer to the international cultural scene in India. But it is marvellous that it is taking this step at all at a time when cuts in public spending - not just in Switzerland - are leading to cultural institutions being closed rather than opened. In view of the development taking place in India and the country's quantum leap forward - which is primarily economic, but also cultural in the sense of an opening-up (with all the ensuing consequences) -,  this step comes just at the right time and in an appropriate form. An approach that is bound to succeed.

Tilmann Waldraff

Pro Helvetia opens liaison office in India
An interview with Chandrika Grover Ralleigh, Head Pro Helvetia New Delhi.
[dated January 2007]

On 8 January 2007, Pro Helvetia will be opening a new liaison office in New Delhi, its first in Asia and its fourth overall after Cape Town, Cairo and Warsaw. What does little Switzerland hope to achieve in the huge State of India? What projects are planned? What can Swiss artists expect from India? The Head of the New Delhi liaison office, Mrs. Chandrika Grover Ralleigh, answers our questions.

Pro Helvetia Communications: What affinities do you have to Switzerland, to culture in general?
Chandrika Grover Ralleigh: An intensive engagement with Switzerland has only just begun - I have been on board for a very short while and am already amazed at the range of work that lies in the public domain in Switzerland, and all the possibilities it offers for presentation, collaboration and dissemination in India. Ever since I began working in 1983, my work has always had a cultural context.

What induced you to apply for the job as Head of the liaison office? After all, building up something new is always inherently risky.
I think there are moments in all our lives when we open ourselves to the unknown, to risk and to adventure. I had heard of the opening of the office through the former Director of an analogous cultural agency who was conducting a feasibility study for Pro Helvetia at the time. I never considered it as a personal option. That came later and the more I interacted with Pro Helvetia in Switzerland, the more I felt drawn to the organisation. The scope and magnitude of the job is something that I am still coming to grips with, but, suffice  to say,  I feel immensely privileged to be tasked with bringing two cultures closer to one another.

You have been in charge of preparing the ground for the new liaison office since March 2006. What were the greatest challenges during this period?
Establishing the physical working environment was more challenging than any of us had imagined. We saw more electricians, carpenters and linesmen than we did artists, performers and curators.
Owing to the global revamp of our corporate identity, we had no business cards and were hard put to explain to even old and dear friends what we were doing and whom we were working for. All that is slowly changing and the pictures of the office will probably be more telling than all the words we can summon. The response to Pro Helvetia's new initiative in Asia is overwhelmingly warm and support from the Embassy and the artistic community is very encouraging.

What are your plans for the first phase?
We have developed a three-pronged approach with a special focus on co-productions. Besides bringing Swiss creativity to Indian audiences, the other main area of activity will be artists' exchanges between India and Switzerland. We will publicise these under residencies, calling the co-productions collaborative projects - some are already in train and others in the making.

What projects will be realised in the initial phase?
We are committed to carrying out at least one project in an agreed number of art forms over the year, so that we will have at least established contact with each of these networks, and will intensify this engagement over the next few years together with carefully chosen partners. We also intend to carry out at least 2 or 3 music projects, as many literature projects and to further some ideas we have on a dance residency and a co-production. In December 2006, percussionist Pierre Favre toured India. «Hell's Bells and Furtive Folly», by the dance company Compagnie Drift will be the opening event on January 8th and will tour several Indian cities thereafter.

What impact can a small liaison office with a staff of two have in a country the size of India?
The key lies in creating relevant platforms for artists on both sides, engaging central figures and institutions with goals sympathetic to our own, both in Switzerland and India, on the basis of a well targeted selection of projects. This will enhance the impact we are able to create - it is a tall order for a small office such as ours, but, as we have no imperative to programme a cultural centre and have the freedom to be light-of-foot, we are confident our voice will be heard.

One of your tasks will be to build up professional networks. Where do such networks already exist, where are special efforts required?
India's visual artists are well-networked with their international peers. In new media, connections and individual initiatives and partnerships already exist. There are other areas, such as in the performing arts, which could be supported with the space and resources to allow new work and inter-cultural dialogue to take place. This will be an area in which we will invest our energies.

What do Indian artists see in Switzerland? What can Swiss artists expect from India?
I think there are huge areas of similarity - multilingualism, multiculturalism -  and yet there is a curiosity about each other's land and its creative expression that will fuel the exchange on both sides. I hope very much that we will enable only that which is mutually beneficial. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Studio Residencies in Switzerland 2007 - 2016
South Asian artists and Partner Organisations

Ehsan UlHaq | 2016
Partner Organisation: PROGR, Bern

Shailesh BR | 2016
Partner Organisation: Atelier Mondial Basel

Shaunak Sen | 2016
Partner Organisation: PROGR, Bern

Anjana Kothamachu | 2016
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik Zürich

Diya Naidu | 2015
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik Zürich

Hetal Chudasama | 2015
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Shazeb Arif S | 2015
Partner Organisation: Klingental, Atelier Mondial, Basel

Sachin George Sebastian | 2015
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Megha Katyal | 2014
Partner Organisation: Utopiana, Geneva

Kartik Sood | 2014
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Sujit Mallik
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Taran Khan
Partner Organisation: Embassy of Foreign Artists

Gipin Varghese
Partner Organisation: Hochschule Luzern - Design & Kunst

Anitha Balachandran
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Pratik Sagar
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Gitanjali Dang
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik Zürich

Ruchir Joshi
Partner Organisation: iaab Basel

Neha Thakar
Partner Organisation: Swiss science lab- Eawag Institute of Aquatic Research, Dübendorf

Sujith SN 
Partner Organisation: Hochschule Luzern - Design & Kunst / Lucerne School of Art and Design, Lucerne 

Akshay Raj Singh Rathore 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel 

Iram Ghufran 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel 

Shreyas Karle 
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik, Zurich 

Bharatesh GD 
Partner Organisation: PROGR, Bern

Tarun Jung Rawat 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel

Jenson Anto 
Partner Organisation: Fundaziun NAIRS, Scuol

Srishti Rana 
Partner Organisation: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Sreejata Roy 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel

Paribartana Mohanty 
Partner Organisation: PROGR Berne 

Sankar Venkateswaran 
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik Zürich

Indrajit Hazra 
Partner organisation: Villa Sträuli

Ashish Ghosh 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel

M. Pravat 
Partner Organisation: F+F Schule fur Kunst und Mediendesign

Jenson Anto 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel

Anuradha Pathak 
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik

Anurupa Roy 
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik Zürich

Baptist Coelho 
Partner Organisation: PROGR - Zentrum fèr Kulturproduktion, Bern Mohammad

Abdus Salam 
Partner Organisation: Villa Straeuli at Winterthur

Atul Bhalla 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel

Om Soorya 
Partner Organisation: Kunst Halle, St Gallen

Ravi Agarwal 
Partner Organisation: iaab, Basel

Amitesh Grover 
Partner Organisation: Rote Fabrik 

Navneet Raman 
Partner Organisation: Fotomuseum Winterthur

Dr Rekha Tandon 
Partner Organisation: Villa Straeuli at Winterthur 

Abhishek Hazra 
Partner Organisation: PROGR

Karthik S. 
Workshop with: Lucas Niggli

Varun Narain 
Partner Organisation: Schlachthaus Theater, Berne

Himanshu Verma 
Partner Organisations: Kronika Gallery, Bytom in collaboration with Pro Helvetia Warsaw 

Monday, 29 January 2007

Studio Residencies in India 2007 - 2016
Swiss artists and Partner Organisations 

Lukas Mantel | 2016
Partner Organisation: Freelance / Delhi & Chennai

Marie Velardi | 2016
Partner Organisation: Freelance / Delhi & Mumbai

Michael Pelzel | 2016
Partner Organisation: Freelance / Chennai & Goa

Corinne Maier | 2016
Partner Organisation: 1 Shanthiroad, Bangalore 

Uta Putz | 2015
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Kendra & New Delhi Residency, Delhi

Pascal Schwaighofer | 2015
Partner Organisation: Freelance /Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai

Christoph Draeger | 2015
Partner Organisation: Freelance /Delhi

Heike Fiedler | 2015
Partner Organisation: Freelance /Delhi

Mirjam Spoolder | 2014
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Kendra & New Delhi Residency, Delhi

Polese Christophe / Pol | 2014
Partner Organisation: New Delhi Residency, Delhi

David Semper | 2014
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Kendra & New Delhi Residency, Delhi

Barblina Meierhans
Partner Organisation: 1 Shanthiroad, Bangalore  & New Delhi Residency, Delhi

Benjamin Valenza
Partner Organisation: Freelance / Delhi & Hampi

Gilles Aubry
Partner Organisation: Cona Studio, Mumbai & New Delhi Residency, Delhi 

Dominique Lämmli 
Indian science lab: National Centrefor Biological Sciences, Bangalore

Seline Baumgartner 
Partner Organisation: 1 Shanthiroad, Bangalore & New Delhi Residency, Delhi

Matthias Spiess
Partner Organisation: New Delhi Residency, Delhi

Alexander Hahn
Partner Organisation: New Delhi Residency, Delhi & Alice Boner House, Varanasi

David Chieppo 
Partner Organisation: Vyom Centre for Contemporary Arts, Jaipur and New Delhi Residency, New Delhi 

Navid Tschopp 
Partner Organisation: New Delhi Residency, Delhi 

Boris Nikitin 
Partner Organisation: Artmosphere, Bangalore

Ruth Buck 
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Foundation, New Delhi

Frida Leon Béraud 
Partner Orgnisation: New Delhi Residency 

Reichlin Guido and Karin Walchli 
Partner Organisation: Vyom Centre for Contemporary Arts, Jaipur

Sarah Kueng and Lovis Caputo  
Partner Organisation: Vyom Centre for Contemporary Arts, Jaipur

Bernard Cosey 
Partner Organisation: New Delhi Residency

Cristina Galbiati 
Partner Organisation: 1 Shanti Road, Bangalore

Jason Kahn 
Partner Organisation: Sarai, New Delhi 

Sonja Feldmeier 
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Foundation, New Delhi

Niklaus Rüegg 
Partner Organisations: Vyom Arts Centre, Jaipur and Alice Boner House, Varanasi

Tobias Hitch 
Partner Organisation: freelance photographer

Yann Marussich 
Partner Organisation: freelance artist / New Delhi Residency 

Cristina Galbiati 
Partner Organisation: Bengaluru Artist Residency-1 (BAR1), Bangalore

Katryn Hasler 
Partner Organisation: Vyom Art Centre, Jaipur

Emanuel Geisser 
Partner Organisation: freelance artist / New Delhi Residency

Claudia Rüegg 
Partner Organisation: freelance artist / New Delhi Residency

Manfred Werder 
Partner Organisation: freelance artist

Marc Lee 
Partner Organisation: Bengaluru Artist Residency One (BAR 1), Bangalore

Nina Weber 
Partner Organisation: Vyom Arts Centre, Jaipur

Cristin Wildbolz 
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Foundation, New Delhi 

Anne Lorenz 
Partner Organisation: Bengaluru Artist Residency One (BAR 1), Bangalore

Barbara Ellmerer 
Partner Organisation: Sanskriti Foundation, New Delhi 

Michael Günzburger 
Partner Organisation: freelance artist / New Delhi Residency 

Rahel Hegnauer 
Partner Organisation: Bangaluru Artist Residency One (bar1) and Khoj International Artists Association