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Digital Pen Pals Georgia – Switzerland - Akademie - Kunsthalle Zürich

Digital Pen Pals Georgia – Switzerland

In autumn 2022 Jacqueline Granwehr, one of four art educators at Kunsthalle Zürich, participated in an exchange between art educators from Switzerland and the South Caucasus organized by artasfoundation. This resulted in contacts that were then revived for the 'Digital Pen Pals Georgia - Switzerland' project. The basis for this current exchange was a workshop in the 2023/4 exhibition from Elene Chantladze As in a Melody or a Bird's Nest curated by Otto Bonnen, the assistant curator at Kunsthalle Zürich.

The exchange took place in both physical and digital spaces. Questions about the exhibition, techniques and the artist were asked, discussed, or answered. The heart of the project was the artwork created by the school classes in Georgia and Switzerland that were exchanged via the app Discord. Through this interplay of action and reaction, dialogues, and perhaps even stories emerged, and we could learn from each other across borders through the language of art.

The participating classes in Georgia and Switzerland came from diverse backgrounds. The art educator Marine Koberidze participated with two groups, consisting of 26 pupils (age 9 – 11) from different schools near Gori, Georgia. Both groups exchanged with art educator Florence Rütsche’s class, consisting of 23 pupils (age 10 – 11, 5th grade) from the Milchbuck school in Zürich, Switzerland. The last exchange was made up of two groups: art educator Tamta Naldze’s group, consisting of 10 pupils (age 12 – 17) mixed from different classes at the same school, Abkhazian Public School N2, Tbilisi, Georgia. The second group was teacher and social worker Miklos Hajnal’s class, 12 pupils (age 12 – 15) from the Buchlern school in Zürich, Switzerland. The last class was an integration class with pupils who had just sought refuge in Switzerland.

The exchange kicked off with a workshop that lasted 120 minutes at Kunsthalle Zürich leading pupils through the exhibition by Elene Chantladze. The workshop was attended by both Swiss and Georgian classes. The Swiss class visited the exhibition on-site in Zürich, while we thought outside of the white cube for the Georgian class: we prepared a video showing Kunsthalle Zürich and the exhibition with an introductory conversation with the curator Otto Bonnen, and a workshop teaching processes employed by the artist. After this extensive introduction, we reconvened via zoom in an online class to discuss the topics presented and get to know each other.

This workshop formed the basis for the exchange. After both classes attended the workshop, a third channel called 'story time' was opened via the app Discord, and the exchange and dialogue between the school classes started. A second workshop was planned, where we brought the classes back into both physical and digital spaces to engage in live interaction, discussing questions, and playfully reflecting on what had happened so far. This fostered further cultural and artistic exchanges, occurring between mid-November and the end of December.

To celebrate and appreciate the amazing sketches, paintings, and interpretations that they had sent so far, we gave all classes an instruction for action in January 2024: Curate your own exhibition! Whether in the classroom, the stairwell, or any other space inside or outside the school – the choice is yours. Arrange all your artworks and guide us through them with a 3-minute one-take video.

Conclusion of the Digital Pen Pal project

Studio Kunsthalle Zürich

Conclusion of the Digital PenPals project

Studio Kunsthalle Zürich

For the conclusion, a joint meeting at the Studio of the Kunsthalle with the five school classes involved took place, both physically and digitally. The three involved Georgian school classes were connected via Zoom. The students showed each other their video exhibitions and told their stories about them. We asked each other questions and discussed them playfully. A highlight for all of us was a video message from the artist Elene Chantladze herself to all students. It arrived a day before and was a warm and touching surprise for all of us, which made us feel very grateful. We ended with the action of drawing a message we wanted to give to each other, holding a flower in our hands as we cheered. That afternoon, all classes entrusted the curation of an exhibition with all the created artworks to the class of Milchbuck school at Studio Kunsthalle Zurich. This exhibition is open to everyone for one week, from March 1–8 2024. The conclusion took place on Thursday, 29 February 2024.

Kindest Regards,

Seline Fülscher (Head of Art Education), Jacqueline Granwehr (art educator), Julian Kopetschny (art educator) and Andrina Roth (art educator), Studio Kunsthalle Zürich

Project website