Closing Film, 2021 Verbier Art Summit  | Video by Crossmark | 20:36 mins

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





The open and participative online programme featured three new talks by Claudia Comte, Tom Battin and Naine Terena, as well as five new debates from Beijing, Verbier, New York, São Paulo and London, and a special artist residency debate. Videos of the opening and closing of the 2021 virtual Summit, as well as the international debates can be watched here.


Each debate and talk was streamed live on the Summit’s virtual platform and simultaneously on the Summit’s social media channels at the programmed times detailed below. A live 10 mins Q&A session with the panelists followed after each debate. As the platform had participants globally, all debates and talks could also be viewed on demand throughout the two Summit days.

Jean-Paul Felley at 2020 Summer Event Ve
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Madeleine Schuppli photo by Sandra Ardiz
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Jochen Volz Portrait ©FREDERIK JACOBOVIT
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Naine Terena and Teo de Miranda ©FREDERI
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Jessica Morgan, the Summit’s 2020 partnering museum director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, 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.

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.


The 2021 Summit aimed to inspire all participants to take action around the Resource Hungry theme by creating a "Pledge Card". First, by selecting your preferred statement I, DRIVE SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH..., then including your photo and adding an inspirational quote. The 2021 Summit team including all international speakers have already committed, will you join them? Please click here.

The virtual Summit also showcased art and ecological inspiration by the Summit partners and international Members: art works, talks, performances, podcasts, books and workshops. The aim was to encourage all participants to take action and: “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).

Tom Battin's virtual Verbier Art Summit Pledge Card. 


At the 2021 Verbier Art Summit, two new talks were curated by Jean-Paul Felley, the Summit’s Academic Director and director of the EDHEA (the Valais School of Art). Claudia Comte discussed her recent practice and interest in ocean and marine life, which has become a recurring subject in her work. Claudia is a Swiss contemporary artist known for her use of natural materials in her mixed media installations and her interest in ecological conservation. Tom Battin disclosed and unfolded some of the unseen life in the rivers that drain the roof of our planet, today threatened by climate change more than any other ecosystem on Earth. Tom is a Full Professor of Environmental Sciences at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). A returning speaker was Naine Terena who discussed her recent practice and looked back on the year 2020 and its consequences in the Amazon. Naine is an indigenous artist and educator from Brazil who shares the struggle for representation of indigenous narratives in global dialogues.

The virtual platform also featured former speakers such as Olafur Eliasson, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Joan Jonas who shared their knowledge again around the social issues discussed at the previous Summits: (de)Growth (2017), the Digital Age (2018), Multiple Truths (2019) and Ecology (2020).

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.


Videos of the international debates can be watched here.


The BEIJING DEBATE is moderated by Anneliek Sijbrandij, founder of the Verbier Art Summit, who invited the following thinkers:

1. Daniel Birnbaum, the director and curator of Acute Art in London, which is specialised in contemporary art production in virtual and augmented reality. Daniel was previously the director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and our 2018 Summit partner.

2. Beatrix Ruf, the former director of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, our 2017 Summit partner and Strategic Director. She is currently a collaborator on strategies and programmes at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and sits on the board of trustees of The Hague-based Hartwig Art Foundation;

3. Philip Tinari, the director of UCCA Center of Contemporary Art in Beijing, who has mounted more than sixty exhibitions and organised a wide range of public programmes and development initiatives.


The VERBIER DEBATE is moderated by Jean-Paul Felley, the Summit’s Academic Director and director of EDHEA, the Valais School of Art, who invited the following thinkers:

1. Claudia Comte, a Swiss contemporary artist;

2. Tom Battin, a Full Professor of Environmental Sciences (EPFL);

3. Hedy Graber, the head of the Cultural and Social Directorate at the Federation of Migros Cooperatives. Hedy's role also includes the establishment and development of the Engagement Migros support fund, with which Migros voluntarily supports projects in the areas of culture, sustainability, business and sport;

4. Madeleine Schuppli, a Swiss art historian, curator and author. Since 2020 she has been appointed Head of Visual Arts at the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, which supports and disseminates Swiss arts and culture. With a focus on diversity and high quality, Pro Helvetia promotes artistic creation in Switzerland as well as networking and cultural exchange abroad.


The NEW YORK DEBATE is moderated by Jessica Morgan, 2020 Summit partner and director of the Dia Art Foundation, who invited the following thinkers:

1. Andrea Bowers, an American artist who has built an international reputation for her drawings, videos, and installations, which deal with social issues ranging from women's’ and workers’ rights to climate change and immigration;

2. Carolina Caycedo, whose artistic practice draws from indigenous philosophies and urges us to consider nature as a living and spiritual entity that unites people globally;

3. Elvira Dyangani Ose, a writer, international curator and Director of The Showroom London, whose work focusses on environmental forms produced in public spaces.


The ARTIST RESIDENCY DEBATE is moderated by Nicholas Henchoz, ongoing partner of the Summit and director of the EPFL+ECAL Lab, who invited the following thinkers and artists:

1. Ralph Dum, a senior expert from the European Commission who is in charge of developing research programmes focused on digital innovation fostering also on sustainability. He is the instigator of STARTS - Innovation at the nexus of Science Technology and the Arts;

2. Kasia Molga, a multidisciplinary artist questioning the impact of technology on the

natural environment and its role in our relation and perception to ‘non-human makers’;

3. Danielle Siembieda, the creative director at Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST), a non-profit global think tank exploring critical themes at the intersection of art, sciences, and technology.


The SÃO PAULO DEBATE is moderated by Jochen Volz, 2019 Summit partner and director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, who invited the following thinkers:

1. Djamila Ribeiro, a writer, social activist, and one of the most influential leaders in the Afro-Brazilian women’s rights movement;

2. Naine Terena, an indigenous artist and educator from Brazil. 


The LONDON DEBATE is moderated by Philippe Rahm, a Swiss architect and 2020 Summit speaker, and includes the participation of the following thinkers:

1. Timothy LeCain, Professor of History at Montana State University in Bozeman,

Montana whose work focuses on the ways in which the New Material Humanism can help us to better understand the past and future of humans and the planet;

2. 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;

3. Clare Twomey, a British artist, researcher, and curator whose work is located in the area of art, clay and craft practices, and who has been focusing on expanding dialogues of accessibility and sustainability in recent years.






9.00am: Opening 2021 Verbier Art Summit

11.00am: Talk by Claudia Comte

11.30am: Talk by Tom Battin

3.00pm: Debate from Beijing, moderated by Anneliek Sijbrandij
featuring Daniel Birnbaum, Beatrix Ruf and Philip Tinari

4.00pm: Debate from Verbier, moderated by Jean-Paul Felley and

featuring Claudia Comte, Tom Battin, Hedy Graber and Madeleine Schuppli

5.00pm: Debate from New York, moderated by Jessica Morgan and

featuring Andrea Bowers, Carolina Caycedo and Elvira Dyangani Ose


11.00am: Talk by Naine Terena

2.00pm: Artist residency debate by EPFL+ECAL Lab, moderated by Nicolas Henchoz and 

featuring Ralph DumKasia Molga and Danielle Siembieda

3.00pm: Debate from São Paulo, moderated by Jochen Volz and

featuring Djamila Ribeiro and Naine Terena

4.00pm: Debate from London, moderated by Philippe Rahm and

featuring Timothy LeCainAlison Tickell and Clare Twomey

5.00pm: Closing ceremony 2021 Verbier Art Summit




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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