«Planting the Seeds of Change»

20.03.2024 The EcoArtLab invites artists, activists and scientists to change the way that people view Climate Change. In 2024 Nora Gailer (N.G.), Alisha Dutt Islam (A.D.I.) and Christa Herrmann will be residents at the EcoArtLab. As residents, they will create an installation at Ballenberg Freilichtmuseum.

What is your personal motivation to become a Resident at EcoArtLab?

A.D.I.: I wish to use the Gangetic Delta as a lens to view the Swiss Alps and vice-versa, while exploring the temporal nature of home in climate-conflicted areas. I am hoping to also address notions of abundance, scarcity, droughts and floods and link them to soil health in the context of the beginning and the end of rivers.

N.G.: I believe it is essential for Swiss citizens to acknowledge our role in the globalized network and take responsibility for our actions and their impacts. The EcoArtLab presents a valuable opportunity to build connections between seemingly distant corners of the world. It allows us to bridge gaps and explore ways for collective action in addressing environmental challenges on a global scale.

Artistic collage of a photo of the Ganges in India and the Swiss Alps
The Ganges and the Alps share some of the effects of Climate Change.

How do you think, your work as a resident is going to affect society?

A.D.I.: We engage with soil as our primary medium, creating visually striking artwork that presents soil in a manner that may be unfamiliar to many. Through our art, we aim to illuminate the beauty and marvel of soil, encouraging viewers to reconsider their perceptions and appreciation of this essential entity.

N.G.: We seek to highlight the value of mutual learning and exploration of similarities and differences, using soil as a lens through which to examine these concepts. Our intention is not to teach a particular thing but to create an open space for reflection and initiate a thought process.


You will be comparing India and the Alps. How are these vastly different societies and ecologies related?

A.D.I.: The Gangetic Delta and the Swiss Alps are affected by climate change in very different ways – one is flood-prone, the other drought-prone. Also, we view the socio-political discourses in both regions through the lens of the other.

N.G.: The project is a reminder that despite being divided by notions of the Global South and Global North, we all face the adverse effects of climate change together.

We all face the adverse effects of climate change together.

Nora Gailer Resident at EcoArtLab

You will take a decidedly femininist approach to your work as residents. Why is that?

A.D.I.: Because we know our thinking is deeply affected by patriarchal and capitalist ideologies. We strongly advocate for community and solidarity in working towards environmental and social change, encompassing multiple perspectives.

N.G.: In our work, we both emphasize feminine perspectives, values, and ways of knowing, and we examine our topic through the lens of interconnectedness and care as alternative ways of relating to the natural world and as a foundation for common action in the future.

What can visitors expect from you at Ballenberg this September?

N.G.: We will use soil as a medium to tell stories and share knowledge, use it as a visually appealing material that sparks curiosity. Also, we will show old techniques working with soil.

A.D.I.: We will showcase a multitude of stories from the source of Rhein and from the Gangetic Delta. We will discover how they compare and where they diverge. Through multimedia experiences, we wish to develop modes of storytelling that engage all senses.

How can art help our society to successfully turn things around with regard to more sustainable ways of living?

A.D.I.: Art helps plant seeds of change and hopefully the feeling will resonate with the viewer and help nurture the seed into plant.

What is the EcoArtLab?

The EcoArtLab is a transdisciplinary think-and-do-tank, which aims to initiate collaborations between artistic researchers, scientists, and the public. Between 2023 and 2027 it is conducting the research project 'EcoArtLab: Relational Encounters between the Arts and Climate Research'.

The SNSF funded research project investigates how the intersection of artistic research, geography, and critical sustainability research can lead to new encounters and approaches that reflect on climate justice.

The research project is a collaboration of the Bern Academy of the Arts, and the mLAB at the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern.