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“Unpredictable Collaborations”: Kick-off of the inter-university Center for Arts and Cultural Theory (ZKK) and DIZH Bridge Professorship

With the Center for Arts and Cultural Theory (ZKK), the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) will be running a joint center from 2024. The Faculty of Arts and Humanities (UZH) and the Department of Cultural Analysis and Mediation (ZHdK) are involved. The focus is on exchange processes between artistic and theoretical practice, and from July 2024 a DIZH bridge professorship for Digital Cultures and Arts will be established, which will research and teach at both universities. The kick-off event on May 24, 2024 at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich will be dedicated to this cross-university collaboration: lectures and discussions will highlight artistic and cultural-theoretical approaches to pressing contemporary issues.

For the current developments – climate crisis, real wars and culture wars, digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI) – the arts as well as art and cultural theories are important places for reflection, speculation and criticism. During the kick-off, members of the ZKK will discuss the challenges of our time with international guests from the sciences and arts along the three thematic blocks “The Planetary and the Usefulness of Artistic”, “Culture Wars in Times of Real Wars” and “Art With/Against AI”.

ZKK as a bridge between UZH and ZHdK and DIZH bridge professorship
Ten years ago, the predecessor institution, the Competence Center Arts and Cultural Theory, was founded at UZH. The idea was to investigate the specific nature of artistic knowledge for the development of cultural theories. The focus was on the critical, self-reflective and projective dimensions of the arts in modern times, modernity and the present, but also from a global historical perspective. To date, around fifty books have been published in German, English and Belarusian in his own series “Denkt Kunst”, which has been published by diaphanes since 2014. The new, transdisciplinary and trans-institutional ZKK, co-directed by Sylvia Sasse (UZH) and Judith Siegmund (ZHdK), will continue to focus on the role of the arts and culture in contemporary social debates. By joining forces with the ZHdK, joint research and teaching projects will be encouraged and promoted. With the ZHdK, the arts and their theories are now entering into a new kind of dialog with university science. Artistic practice and the theories of the arts will provide new perspectives and unforeseeable collaborations.

This also includes the establishment of a bridge professorship for digital cultures and the arts, which will be filled by image and media scientist Roland Meyer from 1 July 2024 as part of the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH). Meyer will research and teach at both the UZH and the ZHdK. His areas of focus include algorithmically networked image cultures, operative images of facial and pattern recognition, forensic image practices, generative AI and synthetic media as well as new body and perception relationships in medially expanded spaces. During the kick-off, he will co-moderate the panel “Art With/Against AI”.

The DIZH Bridge Professorship for Digital Cultures and Arts will be filled by image and media scientist Roland Meyer as of July 1, 2024.

Program of the kick-off on 24 May 2024

Unpredictable Collaborations
Inaugurating the New Centre for Arts and Cultural Theory

24 May 2024, Museum für Gestaltung Zurich, Ausstellungsstrasse 60


  • 9:30 Welcome Notes
    Karin Mairitsch, Rector ZHdK
    Michael Schaepman, Rector UZH
    Sylvia Sasse, UZH & Judith Siegmund, ZHdK, Co-Direction ZKK
  • 10:00-12:00 The Planetary and the Usefulness of Artistic Action
    With Alistair Hudson (Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe – ZKM), Claudia Keller (UZH), Moritz Matschke (University of Arts Linz)
    The idea of the Anthropocene is contrasted today by the concept of the planetary as a response to a call for a “deliberate decentering of the human being”. What could our ability to act after such an intentional decentering of the human being look like? And who is this “we”?

    12:00-14:00 Lunch Break 

  • 14:00-16:00 Culture Wars in Times of Real Wars
    With Agnieszka Graff (University of Warsaw), Elżbieta Korolczuk (Södertörn University, Stockholm), Henrike Naumann (London/Berlin)
    The current military wars are fueled by cultural wars. Using the example of the Russian war against Ukraine, we would like to shed light from a scientific and artistic perspective on which cultural wars are being fought in parallel and what it means to be caught up in them.

    16:00-16:30 Break 

  • 16.30-18:30 Art With/Against AI
    With Nora Al-Badri (Berlin/ETH Zurich), Vladan Joler (University of Novi Sad), Bruno Moreschi (Collegium Helveticum, Zurich)
    From ChatGPT to Sora, the latest advances in ‘generative AI’ are as spectacular as they are controversial. They raise questions about the future of authorship, the value of creative work, the character of imagination, and the concentration of power in the hands of big tech companies. What might alternative models for working with and against AI look like?

    18:30-19:00 Break 

  • 19:00-19:30 The Future of ZKK – Unpredictable Collaborations
  • 19:30 Party