2930 JANUARY 2021


To celebrate the Verbier Art Summit’s fifth anniversary on 29 and 30 January 2021, the Summit launches a new virtual platform and invites leading artists and thinkers from all over the world to deepen debate on:



The virtual platform provides an opportunity for all those with a love for art, innovation and ecology to participate for free, joining the international movement for driving social change through art. This is a time of great change and the Summit gladly offers a central role for artists and innovative thinkers to enable transformation and inspire action on the ecological crisis. 

The 2021 Summit speakers are invited by Jean-Paul Felley, the Summit’s Academic Director and Director of the EDHEA, the Valais School of Art, and include the Swiss artist Claudia Comte, Professor Tom Battin and cultural leaders Hedy Graber and Madeleine Schuppli. These interdisciplinary speakers will offer their different perspectives on a resource hungry epoch and reflect on how we can find a new way forward. 

In the work of artist Claudia Comte, the natural environment has always been a common theme, whereby the forest in particular has played an instinctive creative role. More recently, her interest in the ocean and marine life became a recurring subject. Her talk will be complemented by an illustration on transitions in the ‘unseen life’ in rivers by Tom Battin, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), whose laboratory works on the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of stream ecosystems in mountain regions worldwide. Further ideas on innovation and society will be shared by Hedy Graber, head of the Cultural and Social Directorate at the Federation of Migros Cooperatives, who support sustainable social projects across Switzerland, and Madeleine Schuppli, head of Visual Arts at the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, who support Swiss arts and culture at home and abroad fostering cultural exchange. 

The 2021 Summit will feature new and existing TALKS by Summit speakers such as Olafur Eliasson, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Joan Jonas and Claudia Comte focussing on knowledge sharing around the social issues discussed at the previous Summits: (de)Growth (2017), the Digital Age (2018), Multiple Truths (2019) and Ecology (2020).


As part of the expanded digital offering, five new DEBATES from all over the world, will continue the Resource Hungry discussion started at the 2020 Summit earlier this year. The debates are conceived by our Strategic Director Beatrix Ruf and are moderated by the former partnering museum directors coming from: New York, São Paulo, Beijing and London.


The international debate series will kick-off from New York with a session moderated by Jessica Morgan, the Summit’s 2020 partnering museum director of the Dia Art Foundation, who selected the Resource Hungry theme. The debates include speakers such as the artists Andrea Bowers, Carolina CaycedoNaine Terena and Clare Twomey, architect Philippe Rahm, philosopher Djamila Ribeiro, professor Timothy LeCain, director of the EPFL-ECAL Lab Nicolas Henchoz, museum directors Daniel Birnbaum, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Jessica Morgan, Philip Tinari and Jochen Volz, as well as ecological change-makers such as Alison Tickell, the founder of Julie’s Bicycle, a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. Each debate will be concurrently live-streamed on social media and will include a live Q&A session on the 2021 Summit days: 29 and 30 January.

Olafur Eliasson at the 2018 Summit. Photo by Frederik Jacobovits.


Rirkrit Tiravanija at the 2019 Summit. Photo by Alpimages.

Jochen Volz and Naine Terena at the 2019 Summit. Photo by Frederik Jacobovits.

Jessica Morgan reflects back on the theme Resource Hungry, stating: “It took a virus to halt aspects of our culture that were destroying the environment. Now is the moment to reflect on how we can evolve in response to the questions posed at the 2020 Verbier Art Summit:

  • Can we learn from the light touch and holistic thinking of indigenous cultures that have cared for the land for generations?


  • Can we reassess the spaces, habits, structures, and systems of culture to find new ways to operate and new ways to experience?


  • Can we rethink our values?”

Jessica Morgan at the 2020 Summit. Photo by Alpimages.

The virtual Summit will also showcase ART AND ECOLOGICAL INSPIRATION by the Summit partners and international Members: art works, talks, performances, podcasts, books and workshops. The aim is to encourage all participants to take ACTION: “Repair our relationship to the land, by shifting away from endless resource extraction” and “begin to repair our relationships with one another in the process”, as the Canadian author Naomi Klein described so powerfully in her book On Fire. The Burning Case for a Green New Deal (2019).

If you are interested in learning more about the Summit’s theme, the accompanying publication Resource Hungry: Our Cultured Landscape and its Ecological Impact edited by Jessica Morgan and Dorothea von Hantelmann, designed by Irma Boom and distributed by Koenig Books London, is now available to purchase in specialty art book stores, museum shops and online.



Tom Battin

Tom Battin is a Full Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) where his laboratory works on the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of stream ecosystems in mountain regions worldwide. He is intrigued by the massive yet unseen diversity of the microbial life in these ecosystems and how they have adapted to their extreme environment. At the same time, his laboratory works are on the role of streams and rivers for the global carbon cycle, and how climate change is affecting this link. Before joining EPFL, Tom was Professor in Limnology at the University of Vienna and Visiting Professor of the University of Applied Art in Vienna and the University of Uppsala. Before that, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the USA and Spain. He has received the Spanish Ramón y Cajal fellowship and the Austrian Start Prize, the highest award for young scientists. 


Photo by Bertrand Rey

Claudia Comte

Claudia Comte is an artist based in Bennwil, Switzerland. Her work is defined by her interest in the memory of materials and by a careful observation of how the hand relates to different technologies. Claudia studied at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL) in 2004-2007, followed by a Masters of Art in Science of Education at Haute Ecole Pédagogique, Visual Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland in 2008-2010. She has presented her work in solo and group exhibitions at Kunstraum, Dornbirn; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; König Galerie, Berlin; Copenhagen Contemporary; Gladstone Gallery, New York; MOCA, Cleveland; Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis; Kunsthalle Basel; Desert X, Palm Springs;  Kunstmuseum Luzern; Public Art Fund, New York;  Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich; and Elevation 1049, Gstaad. Her upcoming exhibitions include: the 58th October salon Belgrade Biennale (June 2021) and a solo presentation at The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (Spring 2021).


Photo by Gunnar Meier

Hedy Graber

Hedy Graber is head of the Directorate for Cultural and Social Affairs at the Federation of Migros Cooperatives in Zurich, where she is responsible for the national orientation of the cultural and social projects of Migros Culture Percentage. Her function also includes the establishment and development of the Engagement Migros support fund, which was set up in 2012, with which Migros voluntarily supports projects in the areas of culture, sustainability, business and sport. Hedy is president of the association Forum Kultur und Ökonomie, member of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences Council, various commissions, juries, foundations and boards of directors, and was awarded the title of European Cultural Manager in 2015. 


Photo by Vera Hartmann

Madeleine Schuppli 

Madeleine Schuppli is a Swiss art historian, curator and author. Since 2020 she has been appointed Head of Visual Arts at the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia, which includes the representation of Switzerland at the Venice Biennale. From 2007 to 2020 she was the first female director of the Aargauer Kunsthaus, where she realised numerous group and solo exhibitions, including shows on Fiona Tan, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, cinema and art, and Swiss Pop Art. In 2009, she initiated the innovative exhibition series for young art CARAVAN for the promotion of aspiring Swiss artists. She was also responsible for an active collection policy with a focus on contemporary works of Swiss art and a dialogical presentation of the holdings. Madeleine is a member of various associations, is an expert in building art committees for cities and companies and is represented in numerous juries for art prizes.


Photo by Sandra Ardizonne

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