Worlding through socially engaged art practice in Basel

Openlab The Witness is part of the beta phase of Music and Scene in Transformation (MuST), a newly developed master’s program at the Basel Academy of Music / FHNW. Students and young professionals acquire skills in body movement and awareness, collective working processes, and field research in order to work with local communities. Through The Witness, the academy is reaching out in novel ways to its local community and strengthening the dialogue with local actors. The Witness will be part of the curriculum when MuST officially opens in fall 2024.
 
Witnessing biodiversity in the gardens of Basel (Project 2023)

In a world out of balance, facing climate change and advancing urbanization, Basel, a Swiss city at the borders of France and Germany, is showing a ray of hope: A recent field study revealed an unexpectedly large amount of biodiversity in the city’s private gardens. Inspired by this research, a group of artists from different fields and nationalities initiated a transdisciplinary project seeking to combine scientific research, artistic expression, and community engagement to explore the world of plants, animals, and other living inhabitants of the soil. Their goal is to amplify the significance of these beings and observe their entanglement with their own artistic practices, as well as define gestures of care needed to co-exist with them. By witnessing, listening to, and embodying these beings and our soil through ecosomatic practices, we learn to see, recognize, honor the world around and within us, sing, dance, play, grieve, compose, and decompose with it — a timely and meaningful endeavour to explore nature from within, rather than from above. It is a call to suspend ourselves in our world in trouble and transition, a call to take care “of the humus upon which the future will be able to grow” (Emma Bigé). 
 
Witnesses: Ed Williams, Cris Arcos Cano, Anouk Neyens, Chloé Saffores, Lathika Vithanage, Olga Marulanda, Isabelle Meraner
 
Seeking community beyond borders in the transnational area of Basel (Project 2023)

This transdisciplinary project strives to foster a deeper understanding of shared identity and the borders that shape us, challenging conventional perspectives in our interconnected world.
The research initiates at the Three Countries Bridge (Dreiländerbrücke; La passerelle des Trois Pays), which marks the borders between Weil am Rhein (Germany) and Huningue (France) — overviewed by the Dreiländereck, the Basel monument that stands at the intersection of the three neighbouring countries. This iconic bridge serves as a tangible metaphor for exploring the connections and divisions in the transnational area. Engaging with the interplay among change, movement, and the intricate balance between micro and macro human scales, the team examines how these fluid dynamics significantly impact our communities and identities and interact with solid, established structures. They are investigating the origins of different communities in the area, the essence of belonging, and the evolving nature of shared identities influenced by common threads and the impact of globalization and technology. 
 
Witnesses: Iulia-Andreea Smeu, Kaspar Deicher, Miriam Paschetta, Hannah Wirnsperger, Nina Maghsoodloo