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In January 2021, the Verbier Art Summit launched a new virtual platform with an open and participative online programme featuring three new talks and five international debates. New and returning Summit speakers were invited to continue the "Resource Hungry" discussion that was started in 2020.

Two of the 2021 Summit talks featured new speakers: the Swiss contemporary artist Claudia Comte and Full Professor of Environmental Sciences at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Tom Battin were invited by Jean-Paul Felley, the Summit’s Academic Director and director of the EDHEA, the Valais School of Art. The third talk featured a returning speaker, Naine Terena, an indigenous artist and educator from Brazil who shares the struggle for representation of indigenous narratives in global dialogues. These three interdisciplinary speakers offered their perspectives on today’s ecological landscapes and reflect on how we can find a new way forward through the lens of art, science and indigenous knowledge.


Verbier Art Summit Founder Anneliek Sijbrandij, Tom Battin and Jean-Paul Felley in Verbier, Switzerland. Photo by Melody Sky.


Claudia Comte is a Swiss contemporary artist known for her use of natural materials in mixed media installations. She was invited to the 2021 Summit to discuss her ecological practices and inspiration within her work and daily life. The natural environment is a common theme for Claudia, with the forest in particular playing an instinctive creative role. Ecologically sourced wood, often from sustainable forests found in and around her hometown of Morges, Grancy, became the artists primary medium from which she carves her idiosyncratic abstract forms. More recently, Claudia’s interest in the ocean and marine life also became a recurring subject in her artistic practice.

In her 2021 Summit talk, Claudia discusses personal reflections on her sculptural processes using wood and also marble, linking to her wider interests in forest ecology and biodiversity, which she evokes through play, connection and touch. By drawing on direct examples of her artistic work as well as her personal life, Claudia ultimately envisions bringing together the natural environment with the community.

New works that incorporate her oceanic findings from an expedition to New Zealand organised by TBA21–Academy will be on view in her upcoming exhibition Claudia Comte. After Nature at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, from 11 May to 22 August 2021. Click here to learn more about Claudia’s upcoming exhibition.

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Claudia Comte discussing her underwater cactus sculptures in the East Portland Fish Sanctuary in Jamaica.

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Claudia Comte discussing her sustainable home at the 2021 Verbier Art Summit.

Claudia Comte Talk | Video by Crossmark | 20:05 mins


Photo by Gunnar Meier.



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).



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. Tom leads the inaugural research program for the Alpine and Polar Environment Research Center (ALPOLE) at EPFL, supported by the NOMIS Foundation. The program is entitled Vanishing Glaciers - What Else Besides Water Is Lost? and aims to uncover some of the characteristics that micro-organisms have developed to become such a successful mode of life in glacier-fed streams. Tom’s research on mountain streams has contributed to the present-day knowledge that inland waters, such as streams and rivers, are major contributors to the global carbon cycle.

In his 2021 Summit talk, Tom discusses how natural transitions are hard to capture because they are so ephemeral and invisible to the naked eye. These transitions are early warning signals for regime shifts as human activities are now shaping the environment more than geology, pushing our planet into the epoch of the Anthropocene. Tom further explains the impact of climate change on the hidden microbial life of the streams that literally drain the roof of our planet, causing an unseen loss of biodiversity. By highlighting these unseen natural transitions that morph from one state to another state over millions of years, Tom reminds us of the larger ecological circle in which these transitions are connected and are thus affected by our ‘resource hunger’.

Click here to read more about the ALPOLE EPFL project Vanishing Glaciers.

Claudia Comte discussing her underwater cactus sculptures in the East Portland Fish Sanctuary in Jamaica.

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Tom Battin discussing his photograph écriture automatique at the 2021 Verbier Art Summit. 

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Tom Battin discussing the Vanishing Glaciers Research Project at EPFL.

Tom Battin Talk | Video by Crossmark | 24:18 mins

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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.


Naine Terena is an indigenous artist, activist and educator belonging to the Terena indigenous people of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Naine was invited as a returning speaker to discuss her recent curatorial and artistic practice, sharing her knowledge about art, ecology, society and indigenous rights whilst looking back on the year 2020 and its consequences in the Amazon.

In her 2021 Summit talk, Naine explains how art initiatives helped the indigenous community survive the pandemic, and offers new perspectives and solutions for a post-pandemic world. She provides examples of the role of art in forming a network of solidarity for the indigenous population, and discusses how art is not only a form of activism and resistance, but also part of a healing process. Examples of this can currently be seen in an exhibition she curated at Pinacoteca de São Paulo with 23 other indigenous artists entitled Vexoa: We Know.

To learn more about Naine’s exhibition Vexoa: We Know click here. The exhibition opened in October 2020 and will continue until March 2021.


In her 2019 Summit talk, Naine discussed how she uses art as a political and activist tool. To watch the 20-mins talk, please click here.


Naine Terena speaking at the 2019 Verbier Art Summit. Photo by Alpimages.

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Naine Terena discussing the exhibition Vexoa: We Know at the 2021 Verbier Art Summit.

Naine Terena Talk | Video by Crossmark | 14:31 mins

Naine Terena and Teo de Miranda ©FREDERI

Photo by Frederik Jacobovits.


Naine Terena belongs to the Terena indigenous people of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.  She has a doctorate (PhD) in education, a Master’s degree in Art and a degree in Social Communication. Terena received a Postdoctoral fellowship in education (July 2015) at Lêtece—UFMT and currently lectures at the Catholic University of Mato Grosso in the areas of Social Communication and Indigenous Education.  She is a Cultural/Artist Producer at Oráculo Comunicação on education and culture, where she develops research projects, workshops and activities related to education, culture and militancy.

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