Arja Renell, Herring researcher in the Archipelago Sea, film still, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Stressed Herring

Archipelago Research Institute, Seili
2.6.2022, 10.00–16.30

Stressed Herring (Stressaantunut silakka), a day-long workshop at the Archipelago Research Institute, opens up the world of researchers and the changing realities occurring under the surface of the Archipelago Sea. Docent Marjut Rajasilta, research doctor Katja Mäkinen and artist Arja Renell will guide you through multi-generational herring research from the perspectives of both science and art.

Read the field notes for Stressed Herring

Since the 1980s, research related to the growth and reproduction of herring has been conducted at the Archipelago Research Institute in Seili. The research shows how the species adapts to a changing environment across a period of 40 years. One of the many trends that the data indicates is that the herring’s habits and characteristics have altered in response to changes in the Baltic Sea ecosystem.

The artistic starting point of following herring research has been to document and raise questions about the meaning of long-term scientific research. The real value of long-term research can sometimes only be determined decades later, and it is not possible to determine all of its benefits in advance. For example, the data collected on herring decades ago can be used to retrospectively map the development of climate change and its effects on the Baltic Sea.

Long-term research also reveals how prevailing trends in science at certain periods determine the importance of the research. An understanding of the context that determines one’s own choices and the limitations of the information that supports decision-making helps the researcher to understand broader entities and to be aware of making quick conclusions. The notion that an individual is part of a continuum of researchers is meaningful in itself.

During the day, participants will familiarise themselves with the institution’s herring research and its different phases, as well as the relationship between the researcher and the researched. How has a species or group of species been selected as the subject of research? How does the relationship with the research object develop in long-term research work? What information is left out of scientific research?  The topic will be approached through a variety of presentations, discussions and exercises.

The purpose of the workshop is to open up different approaches to both scientific research and being with another species.  A series of discussions will be held in response to the following questions: What can we learn from another species? How can we practice approaching otherness and being with it so that we give our senses space to observe and find connections? How can we learn to be a more equal part of this multiplicity of organisms, plants and minerals? How can we respect it as an independent value and not just as commodities intended for humans?

The event will be held in Finnish, with English used as a second, intermediary language. Participants are welcome to use either Finnish and English for the discursive components of the workshop.

Registration for the event and optional overnight stay on the island, 2-3 June, is required as places are limited. Accommodation and meals are at your own expense (for pricing information, Visit Seili).

For the full itinerary (in Finnish), visit our Facebook event. Alternatively, for more details or to register, email

Stressed herring is organised in cooperation with the Archipelago Research Institute (University of Turku) and CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago. It is part of the event series, How do you know what you know? Exercises in Attentiveness, which brings together and publicly shares a multi-year collaboration between artists and researchers at the Archipelago Research Institute on the island of Seili. The series is part of the CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago’s project Spectres in Change and it is supported by the Kone Foundation and the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.