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A UN Library Talk

The Role of the Arts and Cultural Institutions in the Contemporary World


Friday 21 October 2016, 18:00 to 20:00 pm


UN Geneva, Palais des Nations, Building A, 3rd floor

Salle/Room XII, Avenue de la Paix, Geneva



Welcome by Francesco Pisano, Chief, United Nations Office at Geneva Library

Opening by Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Introduction/ Moderation by Adelina von Fürstenberg, Director, ART for the World



Charles Beer, President of Pro Helvetia and Former President of the State Council of the Canton of Geneva/ Head of Public Education, Culture and Sport, Switzerland

Danilo Santos de Miranda, Regional Director of SESC, São Paulo, Brazil
Adam Szymczyk, Artistic Director of documenta 14, 2017, Athens, Greece/Kassel, Germany
Barthélémy Toguo, Artist and Founder of Bandjoun Station Project, Cameroon


In The Role of the Arts and Cultural Institutions in the Contemporary World, the founder of ART for The World, Adelina von Fürstenberg moderated the panel discussion of four distinguished speakers, each representing a unique perspective on the concept of participation in the arts; in taking views from politics and patronage, economics and education as well the power of the arts and the individual initiative, Art and Culture was explored as a pillar of sustainability in our contemporary world.




The Participants


Politics and Cultural Patronage

Charles Beer, President of Pro Helvetia and Former President of the State Council of the Canton of Geneva/ Head of Public Education, Culture and Sport. Pro Helvetia is an independent foundation promoting Swiss art and culture, with emphasis on diversity, quality and cultural exchange through a network of antennas and through its international liaison offices in New Delhi, Cairo, Shanghai and Johannesburg, Paris and New York. Pro Helvetia supports as well the development of the local cultural scene through the participation of cultural institutions and transnational cooperation.


Economics, Culture and Education

Danilo Santos de Miranda is an expert on cultural policy and Director of SESC in the State of Sao Paulo, the cultural institution supported by the São Paulo Chamber of Commerce overseeing 38 institutions across 19 cities in the state of São Paulo. SESC is a unique example of a participatory and successful collaboration between cultural institutions and economy in a veritable approach to sustainable development. SESC missions promote social well-being through the integration of education, culture and the arts.  In creating corporate responsibility on issues of education and culture since 70 years, SESC is a major exemple of an economic commitment to the arts and culture through a successful economic participation.

            Prof. Danilo Santos de Miranda was the President of The World Culture Forum, 2004 in São Paulo and President of the Brazilian Committee of the Year of France in Brazil, 2009. He serves as a consultant to numerous cultural institutions, including the São Paulo Art Biennial Foundation, Itaú Cultural, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP); he is a board member of Art for The World and a member of ISPA - International Society for Performing Arts (USA). He was conferred with the Honor of Zumbi dos Palmares, the Jürgen Palm Award by Tafisa, and Commander of the National Order of Merit by the Government of France.



Contemporary Art and Social Vision

Adam Szymczyk, Polish art critic, writer and curator, Artistic Director of documenta 14, 2017 in Athens,Greece & Kassel, Germany. documenta is the world's most renowned and debated exhibition of contemporary art, taking place in Kassel, Germany, every 5 years. Created in 1955, it was intended to allow the German public to re-acquaint itself with modern art after years of Nazi obscurantism. Over the years, documenta’s main focus has veered towards contemporary art, its last edition attracting more than 900,000 visitors in 100 days.

       For documenta 14 Adam Szymczyk has suggested a twofold structure: for the exhibition to be presented for the first time in its 60-year history also in another city: Athens, Greece, thus abandoning its undisputed role of the host for that of a guest. With the working title Learning from Athens, Szymczyk aims to reflect and question the current social and geopolitical situation both in Europe and globally with artistic action staged in midst of the palpable tension between North and South generated by the financial, economic and politic crises.

       Adam Szymczyk was a co-founder of the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw, at which he worked as Curator from 1997 till 2003, when he assumed his new post as Director at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland. In 2008 he co-curated with Elena Filipovic the 5th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art under the title When Things Cast No Shadow. He is a Member of the Board of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In 2011, he was recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement at the Menil Foundation in Houston. In November 2013 he was appointed Artistic Director of documenta 14 by an independent international jury.


Initiative for Social and Cultural Welfare

Bartélémy Toguo, is an internationally renowned African artist from Cameroon.  Through his work and approach in his practice of art, he is representative of an individual awareness of participation, the very basis of engagement.  Contradicting the image of the isolated artist, Toguo uses a transverse and universal approach to current events and unrest, particularly through his project Bandjoun Station. Inaugurated in 2013 in Cameroon, Bandjoun Station is a center of contemporary art and culture, as well as an agricultural zone combining both environmental issues and social experimentation to provide a platform for the preservation of cultural and bio-diversity, a challenge of sustainable development.

               Through his personal initiative of economic, social and cultural significance, Toguo demonstrates and reaffirms the power of individual participation on the role and importance of arts today. Toguo has exhibited internationally, including at the 56th Venice Biennale, and in 2015 received the Insignia of Chevalier of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture.


ART for The World

The Library Talk The Role of the Arts and Cultural Institutions in the Contemporary World was organized in the context of the launch of PARTICIPATION, book published for the 20th Anniversary of ART for The World, NGO associated with UN Department of Public Information, founded in Geneva in 1995, on the occasion of Dialogues of Peace, an international contemporary art exhibition in the offices, courtyard and park of the UN, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.    

            The projects of ART for The World (1995-2016) came to fruition thanks to the participation of the many artists, art professionals, and cultural institutions from different continents united in their support of the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drawing inspiration in particular from Article 27, affirming the right to culture and art as an integral human right. (

            The book PARTICIPATION retraces ART for The World’s twenty years of activities, including international traveling art exhibitions, performances, film productions, architecture, seminars and concerts which merge ethics with aesthetics to promote education, well-being and sustainability based on the ideals of human rights, dignity, freedom, peace and solidarity as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



Special thanks to H.E. Ambassador Regina Maria Cordeiro Dunlop, Mission of Brazil to the United Nations in Geneva; and to Ms. Victoria Tollman, Owner of the Hotel D'Angleterre, Geneva, member of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.  


Invitation Flyer 21 October 2016 English
Invitation Flyer 21 October 2016 French
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