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.