Switzerland’s Verbier Art Summit Debuts Its First Virtual Edition, Focusing on the Relationship Between Culture and Ecology

In the five years since it launched, Switzerland’s Verbier Art Summit has defined itself as a unique annual retreat where thought leaders in the art industry come together, away from a world of buying and selling, for a weekend to discuss how the cultural sector might create positive change in the larger global landscape. 

“Summit” is the ideal word to describe the event: It takes place in the Swiss Alpine village of Verbier, with speakers and guests lodging in the chalets of the esteemed mountaintop community. In recent years, Joan Jonas, Olafur Eliasson, and Rirkrit Tiravanija had lead conversations there. (Last spring, DIA Art Foundation’s Jessica Morgan wrote about a few of her takeaways from the weekend for Artnet News.) 

The 2021 Verbier Art Summit speakers.

The 2020 Verbier Art Summit speakers.

Hosted at the start of each year as a way to kick-off debates on important social issues, this year the platform has reimagined itself virtually. Starting this Friday, January 29, the Verbier Art Summit will host two full-days of streaming conversations about culture, ecology, and the art world’s relationship to the environment.

The weekend will include a mix of live talk and cutting-edge debates, featuring art world heavyweights such as Andrea Bowers, Beatrix Ruff, Daniel Birnbaum, and Philip Tinari, among others.  

The Swiss artist Claudia Comte will give a talk about her research into the ways contemporary technologies are designed to impart tactile experiences to people, from the click of the keyboard to the buzzing of a cell phone. Artist and activist Naine Terena will discuss Indigenous communities’ ongoing work in protecting the environment, particularly through the lens of her home country of Brazil. 

Professor Tom Battin will be speaking at the 2021 virtual Verbier Art Summit. Photograph by Bertrand Rey.

Professor Tom Battin will be speaking at the 2021 virtual Verbier Art Summit. Photograph by Bertrand Rey.

Offering insight into the science behind our changing ecology, Tom Battin, a professor of microbial ecology and expert of biogeochemistry, will present highlights of his research into the massive unseen diversity of microbial life in extreme mountaintop ecosystems—like Verbier. He’ll also give a primer on his laboratory work focused on uncovering the role of streams and rivers in the global carbon cycle, and how global warming is disrupting those connections. 

Each conversation will be streamed live on the Summit’s virtual platform with Q&A sessions with the panelists to follow. 

Register for Verbier Art Summit 2021 here

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