News Online Symposium – Art and Humanity: What Is Possible? Day 1

Every Tuesday afternoon in May, join an international, multidisciplinary, and interactive online symposium on the relationship between art and humanitarian action.
Learn from and engage with leading experts from different fields.
Please note this online webinar is in English.

Discover our webinar:

Detailed Programme
Day 1, May 4th 2021- Learning

Real Feelings – The Artist as Visionary by Arina Koek

What is the essential role of artists in our society? How artists are free radicals outside politics – who have the freedom and skills to give society new ways of looking at the implications of new developments in our world. Using the word visionary for artists is too limiting – drawing on a limited Enlightenment heritage which privileges sight over all the other senses. The work of artists is beyond vision – their work engages a multiplicity of senses not just sight, including our five senses, to trigger our intuition, our minds and our imaginations. Are the artists in fact humanitarian agents? By returning us to what makes us human and our humanity, so that we feel, intuit, imagine and think beyond our individual experiences to connect with others across time and space, we might get an answer.
Ariane Koek is an international consultant, producer, curator and writer on arts, science, technology, and the initiator and first director of Arts at CERN. She is on the cultural advisory boards of European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) HEK (House  of Electronic Arts, Basel, Switzerland) the Edgelands Institute (Harvard University/Geneva), and Science Gallery Venice, for whom she created and produces Earth Water Sky residency programme. She is Creative Partner of The Exploratorium, San Francisco, USA and  Cavendish Laboratories, Cambridge University, UK.
Picture© Juan Calo

Displacement as Method: Reflections on the “Humanitarian Caravaggio” by Francesco Zucconi

How did Caravaggio’s Sleeping Cupid (1608) end up on the island of Lampedusa? And why was The Seven Works of Mercy (1607) requested for display at a number of humanitarian public events? After critical reflection on these significant transfers, this talk investigates the underlying reasons for this interest in the works of Caravaggio. What emerges is the possibility of conceiving “displacement” as a paradigm for mobilizing the artistic heritage of the West in response to the urgent demands of our contemporary world.

Francesco Zucconi is Assistant Professor in Film, Media, and Visual Culture Theory and Practices at the IUAV University of Venice, Membre associé at the Centre d’Histoire et de Théorie des Arts, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and Fellow at the Institut des Migrations in Paris. He has been a Lauro de Bosis Fellow at Harvard, and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the EHESS. He has written a number of books and articles on the theory of cinema, image theory and visual culture

Collaborative Artwork Session with Gilles Furtwängler

During these 4 webinars, you will have the opportunity to participate in a collective artwork session with Swiss artist Gilles Furtwängler. Stay connected inbetween the second  and third session to follow his instructions on how to submit your raw material to be included in a following publication.

Graduated from the Art School of Lausanne (ECAL) in 2006, Gilles Furtwängler has since pursued a work based on communication.His mediums are reading, writing, performance, painting and graphic arts. Everything is put into shape for an objective and abstract communication,ironic and moral, definitely poetic.

Representing the Impossible: Trauma and Representation in Alfredo Jaar’s Rwandan Project by Olivier Chow, PhD

The aim of this paper is to discuss the relation between trauma and representation in the work of Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar (born 1956), mainly his installations dedicated to Africa, in particular Rwanda. We shall take a closer look at how the artist engages with atrocities in particular genocide and examine how Alfredo Jaar’s installations both provoke and disarm our voyeuristic gaze, which so often underlies our engagement with the spectacle of atrocities. I shall argue that the artist toys with the mechanisms of trauma, reprogramming the shock dynamics of trauma and substituting the aesthetics of the wound with the ‘document’, which I understand as ‘the contextualization and integration of image and event’. In the ‘document’, the post-traumatic gaze is both revived and buried, acknowledged and mourned. In the time and space of the ‘document’, the viewer can finally encounter, engage with and be present in the missed encounter of the traumatic event.
Olivier Chow is a cultural entrepreneur, founder and director of Foreign Agent, an art gallery dedicated to contemporary African art and culture, based in Lausanne. In his previous life, he worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a delegate, field and protection coordinator, deputy head of delegation and advisor on torture. He has a PhD in art history on the aesthetics of cruelty from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and has published in peer-reviewed publications such as Tate Papers and The International Review of the Red Cross (IRRC).


Q&A Live Session:

For the final part of the webinar, our selection committee Pascal Hufschmid, Julie Enckell Julliard and Philippe Stoll have the opportunity to ask the speakers the questions the audience will have written during the talks. Keep yourself online for a final conversation between 6 leading experts in the last segment of the day.

The online symposium Art and Humanity: What Is Possible? is organised by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum (MICR), the Geneva Haute école d’art et de design and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in partnership with the Geneva Red Cross, on the occasion of the exhibition Concerned. 30 Artists on Humanitarian Issues on view at the MICR in Geneva from 27 April to 26 September 2021. It aims at creating links and exploring potential collaboration between art and culture and humanitarian action, two fields of expertise which seldomly interact with one another.

Concept and organisation

  • Julie Enckell Julliard, Director of Cultural Development, Geneva Haute école d’art et de design
  • Pascal Hufschmid, Director, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva
  • Philippe Stoll, Senior Communication Adviser, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva


  • Pierre-Antoine Possa, Manager, Cultural Projects and Events, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva

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