The main focus of research at ECAV concerns questions linked to art in public spheres, examining this question in the context of factors that define the School’s geographical location: peripheral, outlying, close to the border, popular with tourists, alpine. The presence of a remarkable natural environment and the coexistence in a single location of diverse cultures and customs provide inspiration for the design of original forms of artistic experimentation and engagement with differentiated processes of theorization and thought.
The region of Sierre and the Valais canton more generally allow artistic research to focus on the particular context of somewhere far away from large urban centres; a place which for centuries has been characterised by remoteness and cultural marginalization but which, under the combined effects of migratory movements, tourism and the development of communication technologies has now renounced its isolation; an outlying place, to be sure, but richly interconnected nonetheless and open to the wider world, nourished by multiple inputs and exchanges. Here, different cultural identities circulate, interact, and sometimes put down roots, offering a dense, complex and ever-changing field of investigation for artists to explore and interrogate.
Added to this gradual densification and diversification of the social and human fabric is a remarkable landscape, a place where nature asserts its presence still today. Here researchers can find stillness favourable to reflexion, and artists the inspiration they need to design and test new visual structures and explore a shared approach to art.
ECAV therefore seeks to capitalize on its peripheral position and rekindle in contemporary form that which for centuries has been a privilege of outlying communities: space in which to conceive original forms of artistic experimentation, and time to invest in differentiated processes of theorization and thought. The dialogue established with institutes and researchers based in the same region also allows it to combine perspectives and bring artistic research into the realm of other disciplines (art & social work, art & therapy, art & cultural tourism).
To cement its place in the locality and the region, ECAV is naturally oriented towards artistic practices representative of cultures which, like itself, are peripheral and outlying. Over the years it has established an important network of renowned artists, art centres, recognized schools and research institutes with which it collaborates on a regular basis.
Through its artists in residence programme, the School welcomes artists and researchers from the southern hemisphere and remoter parts of the European continent. As well as improving the quality of teaching at Bachelor and Master level, this regular input allows locally relevant questions to be examined from external perspectives and points of view, be they geographically removed or simply original in their approach.
Laurence de Preux