Online Lecture series: Sculpture on a Burning Planet
Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, Helsinki
Our planet is literally burning, and our present-day Neros are certainly fiddling. Distracted by war and egotistical power struggles, our leaders do nothing to effectively slow climate change. Energy shortages caused by the war in Ukraine lead to renewed exploitation of fossil fuel reserves. Weather systems have become more extreme and destructive – and not just in the usual “hurricane belt” – Europe, China, and Northern America have all seen extreme drought and flooding again this last year. These “once in a hundred years” phenomena are now the new normal. Exploration and mining for rare-earth elements for so-called “clean energy” puts increasing pressure on pristine wilderness and indigenous people’s lands. How do artists and the art world react to these developments? The international art world itself is driven by carbon-hungry practices, in the production, presentation, and marketing of artists and artworks. In this lecture series, four renowned experts (philosophers, artists, and researchers) present hopeful possibilities for future artistic practise in this age of environmental crisis.
Wednesday 21 September Elisa Aaltola: Philosophy of Love and the Nonhuman World
Wednesday 5 October Pia Lindman: Chill Survive Network
Wednesday 26 October mirko nikolić: After Extractivism in the Semi-periphery
Wednesday 16 November Maarit Mäkelä: Working with Soil
The series is presented by Professor Andy Best, Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, Helsinki
All lectures start at 17.00 (GMT +2) and are held online using the Zoom platform. They are free and open to all. The language of presentation is English. Please remember to use the passcode to access the meeting, and keep your mic muted unless asking a question.
Wednesday 21 September 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki)
Elisa Aaltola: Philosophy of Love and the Nonhuman World
Discussions concerning the climate crisis often ignore nonhuman viewpoints. Yet, it is predominantly nonhuman animals, who suffer most from a warming climate, whether by undergoing agonizing deaths in forest fires, struggling due to loss of habitat or by facing species extinction. The lecture focuses on how moral love holds the potential of reminding us of other-than-human perpectives. Two philosophical definitions of love (by Plato and Iris Murdoch) will be introduced, and the role of art in evoking love toward animals will be mapped out. Can art make us fall in love with the nonhuman world?
Elisa Aaltola, PhD, works as a senior researcher and adjunct professor in philosophy at the University of Turku, Finland. Her research has focused on animal philosophy and normative moral psychology. Aaltola has published 12 books on these topics, including Esseitä eläimistä (Into 2022), Varieties of Empathy: Moral Psychology and Animal Ethics (Rowman & Littlefield 2018) and Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture (Palgrave MacMillan 2012). In 2021 she was awarded the Pro Animalia Prize for her life’s work for animals, and in 2022 she was awarded the Reformer of the Year Prize by Maailman Kuvalehti.
Wednesday 5 October 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki)
Pia Lindman: Chill Survive Network
Chill Survive Network is a platform for mutual exchange and collaboration between researchers, curators, artists, and institutions in the North-beyond-the-global-North. We engage in human and nonhuman entanglements and the development of new strategies, tactics, methodology and language that speak to our present ecological crisis. The objective is to explore, learn, mediate, cope with the future transformations in the Arctic. The network consists of several physical and online meetings including seminars and workshops.
Pia Lindman as artist and researcher works with performance art, healing-as-art, installation, microbes, architecture, painting, and sculpture. In “Nose, Ears, Eyes“ (Sao Paulo Biennale, 2016) Lindman gave treatments to members of the audience and made paintings based on the visions she saw during these treatments. As Professor of Environmental Art at Aalto University from 2013 to 2018, Lindman initiated the art/science network Chill Survive focusing on the Arctic and organised the first global Radical Relevances Conference (2018). Since 2017, Lindman is doctoral candidate at the program of Nordic Cultures and Environmental Politics at Lapland University researching her concept of the subsensorial. A result of many years of investigation into the body and its place within the cultural space, Lindman’s work now moves beyond the human body proper to multiple realms of organic and inorganic life.
Wednesday 26 October 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki)
mirko nikolić: After Extractivism in the Semi-periphery
As the climate and ecological crises escalate, the metal mining sector is attempting to position itself as a fundamental provider of materials for the “energy transition.” Never before seen quantities of minerals are projected to substitute fossil fuels in the quest for lower-carbon and cleaner energy, transport and infrastructure technologies. While possibly reducing the carbon footprint of material use, the effects of mining on water, air, human and more-than-human communities are less visible in the technocratic discourses and calculations.
Well documented are mining industry’s deep relations with colonialism, imperialism and related social engineering techniques of militarisation, policing, racism and sexism. Mining as part of a larger set of strategies of large- and long-term use of “natural resources” coagulates in the logics of extractivism. The concept and discussion was born in Latin America, but has since travelled across fields and geographies to tell many histories and illuminate a multitude of alternative world-making projects.
In the discussion we will explore how the evolving notions of extractivism and alternatives relate to our life, work and being.
mirko nikolić (Institute for Culture & Society, Linköping University) works through text, place-based performance and organising, often in different collaborative constellations and collectives, in solidarity with climate and environmental justice efforts. Since 2015, the principal focus of activity has been tracing the impacts of “mining booms” in North and South-East Europe, and non-extractivist alternatives from below.
Wednesday 16 November 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki)
Maarit Mäkelä: Working with Soil
Recently I spent one year in New-Zealand. Because of its volcanic nature, the place offered diverse raw materials that were suitable for ceramics making. The core of my creative practice became the natural environment and the earth samples – sand, stones, and clay – I gathered during my walks. The materials were processed further in the studio and then used as raw materials for ceramics. The lecture presents this ‘seed’ project with four interrelated projects where these practices are used in urban context. Three of the projects were conducted together with Working with soil group: first
took place in Research Pavilion #3 in the context of Venice Biennale 2019; second in Design Museum Helsinki 202
0-2021; third in Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA 2021-2022. All the projects discuss the entangled relationship between human and soil from different perspective. The fourth project is ongoing research with the aim of learning how to use geopolymers to work with soil matters with the result of construction that would not need firing.
Doctor of Arts Maarit Mäkelä is an Associate Professor of Practice-led Design Research at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland, where she is leading EMPIRICA research group and Contemporary Design master programme. Her own creative practice locates in the context of contemporary ceramics. She uses her own ceramics making as an embodied, slow practice through which to (re)consider the entangled relationship between human and non-human realms in the context of soil. Her current research interest lies in collaborative creative processes, especially how craft-based practices can be used for raising critical discourse around the stage of the environment. She has published and exhibited widely in international arenas.