Towards the art of not regretting

The moment of exposure demands courage – and no regrets: a scene from “disconnected”, a production from the Bachelor in Theatre. Stage design by theatre students Sophie Schmid and Noé Wetter. Photograph: Djamila Grossman.

Courage, curiosity and determination all play their part in decision making. No regrets implies that we don’t let doubt stop us — or even use doubt as an excuse. The Zett editorial team asked eight ZHdK members to share their views on having no regrets. The stage is set for ventures, new beginnings, failures, learnings and everything in between.



Louisa Goldman
Head of the Ceramics Workshop
“The concept of ‘error’ depends on the context. That’s what I try to convey to students. A crack or too much glaze might be seen as a flaw or perceived as incredibly exciting. The quality of the unexpected may also be very appealing when working with clay: the object I place in a 1000-degree kiln will transform — beyond my control. I need to engage with it and realize that while much lies in my hands — not everything does. This craft is destined for disappointment, but also for great learning experiences.”

Dr. Judith Welter
Head of the Master of Fine Arts
“The question of whether I might later regret something can provide a positive impetus to make a decision. Working with students, I realize time and again that clear decisions are important for making art, because they provide impulses for production and creation. When I make a decision, I take position and stand by it. Of course I can see things differently in two, five or ten years — but right now, the decision is good and right. It’s an exciting challenge not to let doubt stop you, but to see it as a driving force. This reveals the complexity of ‘regretting’ or precisely of ‘not regretting.’”

Renato Soldenhoff
Co-Chair, Digital Council, Head of Digital Skills & Spaces
“Above my screen hang post-it notes bearing the words ‘improvisation’ and ‘intuition.’ I consider these qualities important in our time and for my work. Improvisation helps deal with the unpredictable and enables dealing with it in a pleasurable way; I do my best to heed intuition. I find making, experimenting and exposing ourselves to the known important. Because this allows us to test and experience ideas and thoughts, and to learn whether something works or not. In the best case, things work. Either way, these experiences help us move forward and sharpen a project.”

Noemi Chow
Teaching Assistant, Knowledge Visualization
“The effects of global climate change occupy me — both personally and as a scientific illustrator and designer on the research projects ‘Expedition 2 Grad’ and the ‘VR Glacier Experience.’ Both projects aim to create a low-threshold and playful approach to abstract and complex topics. What makes these virtual worlds special is that they are based on scientific data and thus provide a glimpse of the future. At the same time, we don’t want to wag a finger at our audience, but instead try to awaken their fascination for nature and the environment. In future, we’d also like to more purposively address people outside the sustainability bubble — to exchange views where discord prevails.”

Prof. Michael Krohn
Co-Head of re-source | Sustainability in the Arts
“Not knowing (exactly) what lies ahead has a lot to do with creativity. If you’re afraid of regretting, you’ll never be courageous. A lack of courage spells repetitive patterns. It’s about having the courage to admit mistakes and even to understand them as necessary and useful. Only from this can we learn. During what are now almost thirty years at ZHdK, among others, as co-head of the Sustainability Centre, taking an unconventional yet well-considered approach to the challenges facing society and the environment has always mattered to me. That’s why one of my favourite concepts is: ‘If you don’t go — you won’t know.’”

Prof. Sergey Malov
Principal Violin Lecturer
“It’s not that difficult to put all your eggs in one basket when you have an ace up your sleeve and are sure of things. It’s where I find fulfilment, challenges and exchange at all levels. It’s profoundly sincere. Music is an amazing museum and also a modern research lab at the same time.”

Daniel Späti
Head of Shared Campus and Transcultural Collaboration
“Initially, you have to believe in your idea, bear up under pressure — and also stay a bit stubborn and cool. That’s how I felt, for example, with ‘Transcultural Collaboration,’ our international semester programme. We recently held the sixth edition. For one semester, over thirty students from Asia and Europe explore transcultural issues in cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary teams. It’s always a very intensive time, during which things can sometimes get a bit chaotic and unpredictable, but where unique encounters, experiences and moments also happen. A bit of rock ‘n’ roll is simply part of things. And even though it pushes me to my limits every time, it’s always worth taking on challenges like these!”

Sophie Schmid
Student Bachelor in Theatre, Stage Design
“I have no regrets, even though it has always cost me a lot of effort to do projects in the context of my artistic work that involve a limit experience. Not only for me but also for those who come into contact with my art. For me, shame is an indicator of social norms detrimental to the individual. How I deal with my body expresses my courage to reflect shame in a social context. Art, then, is my form of activism. Shame is not bad per se. There are moments in life when I feel ashamed while this shame also helps me correctly assess the situation.”

Gianna Bärtsch is a project manager at ZHdK University Communications.
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