The EcoArtLab is a transdisciplinary think-and-do-tank at the Bern Academy of the Arts (HKB), which aims to initiate collaborations between artistic researchers, scientists, and the public. 2023-2027, the EcoArtLab, in cooperation with the mLAB at the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern, 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.

Relational Encounters between the Arts and Climate Research

Fridays for Future, climate crisis, net zero – the debate about climate change and ecological sustainability has moved to the center of society. The question is what options for action exist and what conditions must be in place for a societal transformation toward greater sustainability to be possible.  Climate researchers seek exchange with artists or adapt artistic processes in the course of a creative (re-)turn (Hawkins 2020, Marsten & deLeeuw 2013, Crang 2010), while artistic practice is turning to ecological themes. However, it is debated to what extent the arts can actually generate sustainable ecological effects by fueling a thematic debate without questioning structures and logics of production in the sense of a critical practice. More and more initiatives and funding bodies are also trying to bring artists together with climate researchers. 
Little is known about what new processes of knowledge generation are produced by these experimental arrangements. This practice-based research project at the Institute for Practices and Theories of the Arts at the Bern Academy of the Arts HKB investigates in cooperation with the mLAB at the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern how the interplay of expertise from artistic research, geography and critical sustainability research can be made fruitful for the climate debate. The main focus is on climate art projects that involve collaborative approaches between artists and scientists. What methodologies can be developed in the transdisciplinary collaborations to make climate change tangible as a hyperobject (Morton 2013) and to drive cultural change? The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
The synthesis of the three subprojects results in an overview of the current trend of climate art, which makes it possible to develop criteria for the evaluation of such works as well as to give impulses for innovative forms of transdisciplinary collaboration in dialogue with practitioners – researchers, artists and institutions.

Subproject 1:

The Future Institution: Institutional Frameworks of Climate-Art Collaborations

analyzes the institutional frameworks of climate art projects in Switzerland (cultural institutions, funding agencies, universities) and asks to what extent this creates favorable conditions for artistic production (Brüggmann 2020).

Dr. Yvonne Schmidt

Subproject 2:

Methods of Knowledge Generation in Transdisciplinary Collaborations

investigates which strategies and methodological approaches emerge in the collaborations in interaction between ecologization of artistic practices and a creative (re-)turn in human geography (Hawkins 2020).

Johanna Paschen, PhD candidate
Subproject 3:

The Imagined Audience: Whom Climate-Art Projects Reach

focuses on the target groups addressed by these climate art projects in order to develop and implement an artistic mediation concept within the framework of an artistic-scientific doctorate. Theoretically, the concept of the ‘imagined audience’ or the ‘imagined layperson’ (Guggenheim et al. 2004) is used. Who are the projects designed for and who do they actually reach?

Riikka Tauriainen, PhD candidate

Forschungsmittwoch #163:

«The Future of Art and Science Collaborations»

Scientific research, artistic practice and society are increasingly intertwined. Artists and designers collaborate with scientists and science is looking for ways to integrate artistic practices. Unlike traditional science communication, these approaches foster new ways of knowledge production by engaging with different communities. Yet, our understanding of their impact is limited. Questions remain about equal collaboration, exchange formats, quality criteria, and funding structures. The EcoArtLab of the HKB, in collaboration with the mLAB (Institute of Geography, University of Bern), hosts a discussion with different Swiss funding representatives to explore these questions within existing structures.

Katharina Schneider-Roos, Innovation & Society Specialist, Pro Helvetia; Julia Schneerson, Agora Program Manager, SNSF; Katia Weibel, Deputy Director, Stiftung Mercator Schweiz

Yvonne Schmidt, Head EcoArtLab, HKB

Institut Praktiken und Theorien der Künste

Organized by Mirko Winkel, artist & curator, coordinator mLAB & collaborator EcoArtLab

13th March, 2024 | 18.30 – 20.30
incl apéro & roundtables
HKB, Auditorium | Fellerstrasse 11 | 3027 Bern

Please register until 11.3.2024:


«Kultur und Klimaschutz»

Last week, Yvonne Schmidt contributed a short interview to the program KlimaZeit, which focused on how culture and art can address climate change, but also play an active role in dealing with it and thus create new structures and processes.

2nd February 2024

Best Practice Award 2023

«EcoArtLab – Relational Encounters I: Zukunftsbilder»

Our research toolbox was awarded the Best Practice Award as part of the call for research-based teaching, which is looking for teaching formats and teaching materials that have been developed through research work and successfully tested in the classroom.

„For the year 2023, the department management was able to award the Y research toolbox „EcoArtLab - Relational Encounters I: Images of the Future“ by Yvonne Schmidt with Johanna Paschen and Riikka Tauriainen with a performance bonus. This toolbox has successfully built bridges: Firstly, between research project and interdisciplinary teaching, and this in relation to our annual theme „Future“. Secondly, Yvonne Schmidt organized her course as an inter-institutional cooperation with the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern and the Forum for Climate and Global Change (ProClim). “

Forschugsmittwoch #159

Infrastructuring Otherwise: Carbon Endings and Regenerative Practice

On the 29th November we had the pleasure to host a Lecture by Helen V. Pritchard. The presentation took place within the series Forschungsmittwoch (research Wednesday) of the HKB. Through the lecture entitled ‘Infrastructuring Otherwise’, we got to learn more about their work and projects related to ‘citizen sensing’ and ‘regenerative energy communities’.

The research project ‘EcoArtLab. Relational Encounters between the Arts and Climate Research’ is a project of the Institute Practices and Theories in the Arts (IPTK) at the Bern Academy of the Arts (HKB) in cooperation with the mLAB of the University of Bern, founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Fotos Research & Team by Riikka Tauriainen