Pro Helvetia talk about event, ‘Swiss Selection Live’ taking place at Brixton House
Originally due to showcase Swiss based work in August of 2020, Pro Helvetia were forced to postpone their Swiss Selection Live showcase due to the impact of the pandemic. Fast forward to 2 years on from the original due date, and they return with a trilogy of works – Trân Tran with Here & Now, Ntando Cele with Black Off and Alan Alpenfelt with Binaural Views of Switzerland. Ahead of this year’s event, which takes place at Brixton House from the 8th until 12th March 2022, Project Lead Ruby Glaskin tells us more about what to expect!
Hi Pro Helvetia, you’ll be presenting Swiss Selection Live in collaboration with Brixton House from the 8th to the 12th March. How are you feeling ahead of the showcase?
Really excited, as with everything during this pandemic, it’s been a long time coming and I’m so excited for UK audiences to finally see this brilliant work by Swiss artists. It’s also an honour to be part of Brixton House‘s opening season in their brand new venue and I think work in the Swiss Selection Live will really chime with their audiences.
Swiss Selection forms part of Brixton House’s opening season and will showcase the works of three independent artists – TrânTran with Here & Now, Ntando Cele with Black Off and Alan Alpenfelt with Binaural Views of Switzerland. Initially due to showcase their work as part of your 2020 Edinburgh showcase, how have you approached reorganising it and supporting all three artists?
I think we’ve maintained a really openapproach to navigating the challenges that Covid has presented over the past couple of years. When it wasn’t possible for any international travelwe tried to really harness what digital opportunities could bring to Alan, Ntando & Trânin terms of building relationships with industry and audience in the UK. We organised digital residencies with exciting UK venues such as The Royal Court, HOME& Attenborough Arts Centrewhere the artists spent a week working remotely in Switzerland but were supported by staff and artists at these venues and they really got to know them. We also hosted some artist talks online for audiences to get to know the artists. After we disappointingly weren’t able to take the shows to Edinburgh in 2021we immediately knew it was important to try and find another avenue for them to present their work live in the UK. It made sense to look to a venue such as Brixton House, who are always doing new things and bringing challenging & innovative artists to audiences. They are also an incredibly artist focused venue so it felt like Ntando, Trânand Alan would be well supported.
The showcase explores themes of race, climate change and technology. Pertinent topics, how have you found exploring these further within the work programmed?
It’s been really enlightening to see how important topics like these are explored by the artists in Swiss Selection Live. I think there’s something incredibly authentic, well crafted and accessible about the way each artist has approached these themes, and it’s often in quite an unexpected way. Of course as we’ve navigated the pandemic these topics have only become important so it’s been especially interesting to see how the work has shifted as the world around it has shifted and they’ve really been an active part of the conversations we’ve all been having.
That international exchange is always possible – even when you can’t physically travel, there are so many ways of exchanging ideas. And how important it’s been to maintain an international outlook, even when worlds have felt small and closed.
What can audiences expect from the showcase?
They can expect to laugh, a lot. To be confronted and held. To rediscover the power of being present with a live performer. To be immersed in mountainous landscapes & deep lakes – even in the heart of Brixton. To both wonder at and challenge the world around us.
What would you like for audiences to take away from the showcase?
I think after the time we’ve all had it would be amazing for audiences to come away with a sense of connection to those around them and a hunger to live in the world with care, kindness and an enthusiasm for change.
What are your hopes for the showcase and future collaborations with the UK?
I really hope that audiences are excited by the work being made in Switzerland and the importance of seeing work made by artists all around the world. It would be great to see more Swiss artists touring work in the UK, but also exchanging ideas in other ways as well – through residencies & online discussion perhaps. Of course we plan to return to the Edinburgh Festival this year with a new programme of work, but I hope that the Swiss Selection may continue to have a home in other cities in the UK as well.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Swiss Selection Live will play from Tuesday 8th until Saturday 12th March 2022 at Brixton House. To find out more about the event, visit here…