04 May 2023

Swiss Alumnae Launch NGO Using Visual and Immersive Technology to Tell Stories

Through a shared vision, Aline Wani (MDEV ‘22) and Maevia Griffiths (MDEV ‘22) founded the Visibility for Transformation Lab (VIFT) to creatively promote social transformative change. 

Aline Wani and Maevia Griffiths first connected in 2019 during their Master's in Development Studies, combining their unique backgrounds in visual anthropology, filmmaking, security studies and sound design to form a powerful partnership.

When COVID-19 disrupted their Applied Research Project's (ARP) fieldwork for the Violence Prevention Initiative at the Centre on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding, they pivoted to explore new visual methods, collaborating with researchers, a dancer, and an artistic director to create a contemporary dance short film representing the complexities of slipping into violence.

This experience reinforced their strong belief in transdisciplinary collaboration and fuelled their passion for working on creative projects aligning with their values, uniting people, skills, and stories for social transformative change. Thus, a year after completing their master's degree, they embarked on a new journey through the founding of their own NGO: the Visibility for Transformation Lab (VIFT). 

VIFT’s mission is to foster social transformative change through creative and innovative transdisciplinary processes. VIFT believes in the power of collaboration, uniting academics, field experts, artists and local professionals worldwide. By leveraging novel research methodologies using visual and immersive technologies, such as filmmaking, augmented reality (AR), and 3D design, VIFT aims to support memorialisation processes and develop effective violence prevention mechanisms, driven by creative action and empathy.

VIFT's first project, El Bosque de la Esperanza, part of Aline's one-year Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs, seeks to improve access to the right to memory by proposing a self-constructed and virtual memorial for victims of disappearances in Mexico, assisted by transdisciplinary aesthetic approaches like AR and filmmaking.

Not only are both of VIFT's co-founders former students of the Institute, but its board also includes alumna and alumni: Professor Riccardo Bocco, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology; Monika Nyffeler, Coordinator of the Swiss FDFA Task Force Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities; and Dr. Jonathan Luke Austin, Visiting Professor, and Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Copenhagen.

VIFT endeavours to cultivate enduring partnerships with its project partners abroad and actively engage with local communities in Geneva, Zurich, and other cities in Switzerland by means of collaborations with international organisations, NGOs, academia, and art collectives. 

You can follow and support Aline and Maevia's journey on VIFT’s website, LinkedIn or Instagram