Fields of expertise

DENISE BERTSCHI (*1983, Aarau) is an artist-researcher and lives and works in Switzerland. She is currently a doctoral candidate at EPFL Lausanne in collaboration with HEAD–Genève, where she works at the intersection of artistic research and Swiss colonial history. She completed her MA in Visual Arts at HEAD-Genève and her BA at ZHdK Zurich. Her work has been shown in diverse art institutions in Switzerland and elsewhere: in the Aargauer Kunsthaus, the Johann Jacobs Museum in Zurich, LACA in Los Angeles, the Museum für Kunst und Gestaltung MKG in Hamburg, RosaBrux in Brussels, Artsonje in Seoul, WITS University in Johannesburg and Corner College in Zurich.She got awarded with the Manor Kunstpreis in 2020 at the Aargauer Kunsthaus, the "Most Beautiful Swiss Books" award in 2019, a research grand by the GETTY Research Institute in Los Angeles and she was nominated for the Swiss Art Awards in 2019. Together with Dunja Herzog, she was shortlisted for Swiss Pavilion of the 59th Venice Art Biennale.
Various project contributions from Pro Helvetia and the Aargauer Kuratorium funded her artistic research. Currently, she is in an artist residency at CAN Centre d'art de Neuchâtel for a year, followed by a residency at LA BECQUE end of 2021. In 2017–2018, Denise Bertschi spent several months in Johannesburg on a Pro Helvetia residency grant and four months on a commissioned research trip to Bahia, Brazil. Her first artist monograph "STRATA. Mining Silence" just got published by Edition Fink and the Aargauer Kunsthaus. 


Selected publications

Teaching & PhD

Initiator 'Unearthing Traces'

  • Together with Julien Lafontaine Carboni (ALICE lab, EPFL), I initiated the doctoral course UNEARTHING TRACES. Dismantling the Imperialist Entanglement of Archives and the Built Environment, happening on 27–29 May 2021.
With the swissuniversities doctoral course "Unearthing Traces" we propose to explore and learn about memory processes, power structures in archival practices in relation to the built environment and material architectural traces. With the participation of a wide array of thinkers and practitioners in archival and artistic practices, historians and researcher in architecture and social sciences, the course explores how imagined records and traces can be composed and grounded in the context of academic research in order to implement them into a historical argumentation. A particular emphasis will be made on architectural and spatial traces and records both through the methodologies of urban critical and postcolonial studies and through questioning the imperialist dimensions of the architecture of archives and built environments. After two days in the form of a conference, the fieldwork in Neuchâtel constitutes both an opportunity to actively apply these methodologies, and to question the colonial entanglements of Switzerland through a collective and embodied research process in situ. Students across different disciplines — architecture, history, arts, political sciences — will be solicited, in order to decompartmentalize disciplines in this process.

Organised by:
Denise Bertschi (HEAD–Genève/EPFL), initiator of Unearthing Traces, doctoral researcher and artist (EPFL, Labo LAPIS)Julien Lafontaine Carboni (EPFL), initiator of Unearthing Traces, doctoral researcher and architect (EPFL, Labo ALICE)Stéphanie Ginalski (University of Lausanne), historian, maître d’enseignement et de recherche (UniL)Lucía Jalón Oyarzun (EPFL), pedagogical director (EPFL), Post Doc (SUR, Escuela de Bellas Artes)Yves Pedrazzini (EPFL), senior scientist (Urban Sociology Laboratory)

A course by:
Doctoral Program of Architecture and Sciences of the City EDAR-EPFLCenter of International History and Political Studies of Globalization, University of Lausanne UNIL

With the support of: