Photo Andrzej Marzec.
Photo Andrzej Marzec.
Photo Agata Marzecova.

Towards Atmospheric Care


CAA hosted the research group Towards Atmospheric Care (Hanna Husberg, Agata Marzecova and Liu Xin) in Seili under the clear sky of the first frosty days of winter. During the retreat the working group was guided on the island by Lotta Petronella and Taru Elfving, while thinking about the potentialities of a field guide on atmospheric concerns.

Photos above Ayesha Hameed.
Photo Elina Suoyrjö.

Spectres of Reason I & II

14.-17.9.2021 & 2.-5.11.2021

CAA organised two small collective retreats in the autumn 2021 with the aim to acknowledge and share feminist ecological practices that work towards intersectionally addressing the many spectres of reason haunting the present. Invitation to the retreats by Taru Elfving & Lotta Petronella:

We are living under a spell, and this spell is destroying our worlds. It’s time to cast another spell, to call other worlds into being, to conjure other worlds within this world. It is clear that the situation we find ourselves in now leaves us at the limits of language, and grasping at the edges of imagination. We need art, experiment and radical disruption to learn other ways to see, feel and know. (Natasha Myers 2021)

In the face of ecological crisis, it is urgent to reckon with the spectres of reason, to recall what lies hidden in the long shadows cast by the things and traditions considered reasonable and within reason. Knowledges and sensibilities that in the name of reason have been outcast and excluded are calling to be reclaimed. Today tired earthly commons, the gift of billions of years of laborless transformation, meet tired human bodies, drained by relentless and accelerating extraction. (Silvia Federici 2019) It may well be time to be unreasonable.

The Spectres of Reason retreats take place on the island of souls, and of seals, where the first public hospital in Finland treated leprosy with the word of god and later restrained unreasonable, or perhaps too spirited, women in psychiatric care. The retreats set out to think together and with this island that promises isolation yet never fully delivers total detachment, while recognising that its history refuses to lay dormant in the present. Particularities of the here and now are vividly entwined with elsewhere across diverse temporalities and planetary circulations on the island of Seili and the surrounding Archipelago Sea. The island has been guiding our thinking and practices in recent years, with its ghosts of biopolitical institutions and histories of othering, ecological transformations and their research, reproductive labour of care and repair. These myriad spectres do not await explanation or exorcism, but rather call for conjuring and conspiring with them. Haunting is a transformative way of knowing. (Avery Gordon 1997)

We suggest that whatever may or may not be called “ecofeminisms” are elementally plural: embedded and embodied, situated and partial, viscous and porous, vulnerable and fiery – on the frontline of urgent social struggles, in the shadows of ongoing histories of oppression and amnesia, in the small everyday acts of reciprocal care. In the spirit of spectrality, we are not one, nor alone.

We have numerous questions to start with, but hope that you could also bring your own to the island. Our questions, as this very invitation, are not fully formed but rather mere humble attempts to reach out, to begin and to continue. Tentative, respectful, curious questioning – without immediate demand for answers – is our method of retreating, together for a moment, from the exhausting state of emergency. This approach is guided by our sense that there cannot be such thing as an irrelevant background in an ecological worldview. (Maria Puig de la Bellacasa 2016)

How to be attentive to that, which has been left unnamed in the past, as the wave of patriarchal, colonial, industrial, capitalist and anthropocentric modernity has swept forward in its supposedly linear path? How to do so while withholding the urge to name it all as part of the same old trajectory called progress? How to attend also to the limits of what is acknowledged as an ecological worldview, or as feminism? How to notice things previously – and in the present – unnoticed or unnoted, when all that is left are records limited to the questions that were at some point selected as worthy of attention in the institutions of reason and care? What is acknowledged and what remains unrecognised in its contribution and potentially crucial role in knowledge production – or in the reproduction of life? How to pay gratitude to everyone and everything that makes our breath, thought and labour possible?

Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligencies other than our own. Listening, standing witness, creates an openness to the world in which the boundaries between us can dissolve in a raindrop. (Robin Wall Kimmerer 2013)

Thank you to the participants of the retreats:

Spectres of Reason I:
Anastasia Khodyreva, Ayesha Hameed, Elina Suoyrjö, FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo), Saara Hannula, Kati Roover, Johannes Vartola, little Inna and Matleena the dog.

Spectres of Reason II:
Antye Greie, Arja Renell, Giovanna Esposito Yussif, Maija Mustonen, Mari Keski-Korsu, Matterlurgy (Helena Hunter & Mark Peter Wright) and Jackson the cat.

We are grateful for the generosity of professor emeritus Ilppo Vuorinen, professor emerita Marjut Rajasilta and researcher Jasmin Inkinen, who shared their knowledge with us once again at the Archipelago Research Institute.

The Spectres of Reason retreats were organised as part of the project Spectres in Change, supported by Kone Foundation.


Silvia Federici, Re-enchanting the World, 2019.
Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters, 1997.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 2013.
Natasha Myers, How to Grow Livable Worlds, 2021.
Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Ecological Thinking, Material Spirituality and the Poetics of Infrastructure, 2015.

Archipelago Sea Biosphere Reserve Kid's Lab.
Barefoot Path in Korpo.

Aboagora Pre-Symposium: Burning Questions


Archipelago Centre Korpoström

The Aboagora Pre-Symposium Burning Questions brought together researchers in the arts, humanities, and sciences around burning questions of the world on fire today at the Archipelago Centre Korpoström on Korpo island in the Turku archipelago.

The programme was structured around talks, walks and workshops addressing the impacts of global warming on the Archipelago Sea Biosphere area, its marine ecosystem and cultural contexts. Through the prism offered by the site itself, a plurality of perspectives, and multisensory approaches, the discussions focused on a range of ecological and societal phenomena, such as marine and island meadows, marine heatwaves, migrations, mitigation and adaptation.

The pre-symposium offered a momentary retreat from the conventions of boundary-making between disciplines and epistemologies in order to nurture an ecology of practices attentive to the multispecies communities affected by the raging fires – literal and metaphorical – in the present. The aim was to reflect together also on what fuels our journeys, research, and conversations: How to draw together diverse knowledges, skills and wisdoms needed to feed the flame of sustainable transformations? What kinds of narratives for alternative futures might arise out of the ashes of past fires?

At the ABOAGORA symposium in Turku (18–20 August 2021), the participants shared their experiences of the pre-symposium and perspectives from architecture, art history, chemistry, ecology, film, future studies, literature, marine archaeology, pedagogy, and performance. The multidisciplinary group consisted of Camila da Rosa Ribeiro, Jenni Vauhkonen, Kirsikka Paakkinen, Laura Maria Saari, Riikka Armanto, Sachin Kochrekar, Ulla Kommonen, and Yoshimasa Yamada.

The pre-symposium research retreat was directed by curator and researcher Taru Elfving (CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago) and organised in collaboration with the Archipelago Centre Korpoström. The programme included presentations and workshops by Katja Bonnevier and the Korpoström Kid’s Lab (Archipelago Sea Biosphere Reserve), Christian Pansch-Hattich and Christopher Boström (Åbo Akademi University), and artists Sandra Nyberg (Barefoot Path) and Renja Leino (AARK Archipelago Art Residency in Korpo).

ABOAGORA is a joint effort by the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, the Åbo Akademi University Foundation, and the Arts Academy of Turku University of Applied Sciences, supported by Kone Foundation and The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.

More information here

Meadow conservation experts.
Kalle Hamm, Irmeli Kokko and Kati Roover.
Professor Emeritus Ilppo Vuorinen and the archive of research tools. Photos Taru Elfving.

Spectres of Landings II


The retreat focused attention on the entwined histories and futures of humans, sheep and cows, plankton and herring, ticks and endangered meadow plants in the ecosystems of the archipelago, where the shorelines and salinity of water are in a ceaseless flux, made increasingly unpredictable today by climate change. How do we bring our methodologies – in all their senses and sensibilities – to this island, to the encounters with its ecosystem, history and the various fields of knowledge and ongoing research there?

The discussions kept on returning to the significance of fieldwork. What may be lost when fieldwork becomes automated and the scientists retreat to the labs? How does this affect observations and hypotheses, when there is no longer time to embed oneself in the studied environment? How do not only the tools of study, but also the knowledge and skills integral to
the use of these tools, transform together with the research methodologies? Furthermore, what are the values, priorities and arguments driving these changes – in art and science as well as in other areas of the everyday?

Thank you for all the participants of the retreat: Ilppo Vuorinen and Jasmin Inkinen of the Archipelago Research Institute, FRAUD (Audrey Samson and Francisco Gallardo), Kati Roover, Kalle Hamm, Irmeli Kokko, and Lotta Petronella and Taru Elfving of CAA.

Photos Taru Elfving.

Spectres of Landings I


How to arrive somewhere so rich in the sediments of interconnected histories of arrivals, of landings that not only have transformed but keep on affecting the place? Where, like everywhere, all future landings will have impacts, more and less intentional, impossible to forecast in their entanglements with the complex ecosystemic processes of change always already unfolding. Furthermore, how to arrive for a visit at this very point in time, when it is no longer possible to imagine anywhere as an isolated island?

The island of Seili may be approached as a microcosm of exclusion, enclosure and experiments – with its history of institutions, from leprosy colony and women’s psychiatric hospital to contemporary scientific research and nature conservation. Yet here it also becomes tangible how an island is connected through myriad flows with others and with the mainland, and with continents beyond its immediate surroundings – ecologically, socially, culturally, symbolically. What do we bring with us, take away and leave behind? How have our everyday practices already made their mark on this very island? Here and there are interwoven together in their fates, but here matters in all its specificities, nevertheless, even when indistinguishable from the planetary. How to arrive with all of this in mind?

Upon arrival, “how to inherit the layers upon layers of living and dying that infuse every place and every corridor”, as Donna Haraway asks? This calls for sensitivity and responsiveness to the rich inheritances in a place, so as to be able to respectfully adjust our practices in relation to it. If there is no practice independent of its surroundings, as Isabelle Stengers argues, how do we take practices to new environments – into contact with different ecosystems as well as other fields of knowledge?

The retreat Spectres of Landings set out to address these questions upon our arrival to the island, as collaborations are about to start taking shape and forming their future trajectories. The participants were invited to share their thoughts as well as various methods, protocols, and rituals of landing – inherited, invented, borrowed, emergent – relevant for their artistic and/or scientific practices. The programme of the retreat gave insight into the long-term scientific research at the Archipelago Research Institute and field work methodologies as well as their changes, and introduced the current artistic enquiries of the participants. The travel days as well as the two full days on the island were also focused on attentive embodied immersion and observation of the archipelago environment, its present and the past.

Retreats act in the project Spectres in Change as methodological temporary withdrawals from the state of emergency in order to take time to collectively reflect on the shared urgencies and resonant individual enquiries in the project Spectres in Change. Retreat is reclaimed as a momentary pause in habitual patterns and processes of practice, which activates other modes of engagement and sensibilities critically situated in relation to the specific ecosystem and history of Seili. Furthermore, it implies retreat from the conventions of boundary-making between disciplines and epistemologies, nurturing an ecology of practices.

Spectres in Change is a multidisciplinary research platform initiated and directed by CAA in collaboration with the Archipelago Research Institute of Turku University on the island of Seili, Finland, with core funding from Kone Foundation (2017-2022).

Thank you Ilppo Vuorinen, Jari Hänninen, Katja Mäkinen, Jasmin Inkinen and Johannes Sahlsten of the Archipelago Research Institute, Katja Bonnevier of the Archipelago Sea Biosphere reserve, and the guest artists FoAM (Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney), Matterlurgy (Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright), Saara Hannula and Kati Roover.

Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, 2016.
Isabelle Stengers, Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practices, 2005.

Photo Joshua Portway / Autogena Projects.
Photo FoAM.
Photo Joshua Portway / Autogena Projects.

Spectres in Change – Pilot retreat


In June 2017 CAA invited a small group of artists, curators and researchers to the island of Seili for a pilot retreat of the project Spectres in Change.

The aim of the retreat was to gain insight into the archipelago context in question and to identify points of intersection between these local specificities and the ongoing interests of the participants, which could form a base for future research collaborations. We also set out to think together about relevant models for potential long-term support structures that could be developed for the exchanges between artists and scientists on the island.

The retreat gathered around questions arising, first of all, from the work at the Archipelago Research Institute, but also from the complex histories and ecologies, economies and epistemologies that are interwoven in the very fabric of the island. Furthermore, we reflected on the very notion of “an island” – and in this case an island within an extensive archipelago – in its particular potential for fostering site-sensitive and situated practices in response to the urgency of ecological crisis:

What is the potential of strategic temporary retreats or voluntary exiles? How does the intensity of isolation draw into focus not only specificities of the site in question, but also their far-reaching entanglements and reverberations with elsewhere? How may island and archipelago logics offer methods for thinking across disciplinary, spatiotemporal, and subjective boundaries? How may an island context heighten acute ecological and social concerns of today – in terms of practices of knowledge, hospitality, and codependence, amongst others?

Invited artists and curators:

Autogena Projects (Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway), Ayesha Hameed, FoAM (Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney), Pablo Jose Ramirez, Joanna Sandell & Steuart Wright.

Scientists and researchers with local expertise:

Jari Hänninen, Katja Mäkinen, Ilppo Vuorinen, and Outi Vesakoski from the Archipelago Research Institute of Turku University, Katja Bonnevier of The Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, and Laura Hollsten of Åbo Akademi University.

Further notes and documentation by FoAM can be found here.

Spectres in Change is initiated and coordinated by CAA (Taru Elfving and Lotta Petronella) in collaboration with the Archipelago Research Institute of Turku University. It is funded by Kone Foundation, Arts Council of Finland, Konstsamfundet and Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.