“calling for the invention of modes of gathering that complicate politics by introducing hesitation”
CAA co-organised a day of events at the inaugural exhibition of Kunsthalle Turku, Maan Oikeus / Earth Rights, in February 2019. “Maan oikeus” in Finnish opens up a plethora of possible meanings that reveal the deep entanglement of cultural and social structures with their material groundings. “Maa” refers not only to land, nation, and ground, but also to Earth. Distinctions drawn between specific sites and the planetary waver. The narratives of origin, identity and property are written in words that refuse to erect fixed boundaries.
The word “oikeus”, then again, stands for the court of law as well as for rights. Individual rights and the institutions of law appear codependent. If rights to the land are inseparable from the rights of the land, how to access laws of the land that are not merely laws applied to the land? Who and how to speak for the earth? Where and how to speak with it? What does the earth oblige those who claim rights to it? Rights, after all, come with obligations.
The events gathered a range of artistic practices around the shared sense of urgency posed by these ecological concerns. What the discussed practices all share is a deep commitment to take time, even while urged on by a growing sense of emergency, and be attentive to that which remains in the silences and shadows of the apparent order of things. In the face of the unknown, they may not provide answers but rather reckon with the complexities and specificities of the challenges haunting the present.
The day’s programme began with two workshops encouraging the audience to tune in with their senses to the questions resonant with the exhibition: through listening exercises, Sonic Commons led by Tuike and Simo Alitalo in the surrounding environment, and immersion in communication with one of our age-old companion plant species, Holding Space with Yarrow led by Mari Keski-Korsu. An afternoon of screenings followed with works by Arja Renell, Lasse Lecklin, Kati Roover, Niillas Holmberg/Outi Pieski/Jenni Laiti, and IC-98. Other artists of the exhibition also participated in the discussion: Saara Ekström, Liinu Grönlund, Harrieliveart, Saara- Maria Kariranta, Sari Palosaari, Leena Valkeapää.
The questions examined ranged from the escalating socio-ecological destruction caused by extractive industries, a case in point being the Talvivaara mine in Finland, and the fast unfolding changes brought by climate breakdown on the ecosystem and modes of life in the Arctic, to the legal im/possibility of land belonging to no-one. Beyond providing evidence on the not-seen, or giving voice to the otherwise unheard in the cacophony of the attention economy, the afternoon focused on situated and accountable practices of care.
The exhibition and the events were curated by Taru Elfving / CAA. More information:
Isabelle Stengers, Another Science is Possible: A Manifesto for Slow Science, 2018.