Photo Jannica Grönlund
Photo John Björkman
Looking for pre-historic sacred sites on the shifting shorelines. Photo John Björkman.

Aboagora Pre-Symposium


Water carries with it ongoing natural and cultural histories of (un)intentional journeys, discoveries and invasions. Yet it also holds promise in a world that was never fixed in the first place. The Baltic Sea can be seen as an indicator of things to come, a transitional zone where both planetary and local environmental transformations have rapid observable impacts.

Aboagora Pre-Symposium 2020 invited the participants to investigate these transformations on the shifting borders between land and water on the island of Seili in the Turku Archipelago. The two-day field trip, co-organised by CAA at the Archipelago Research Institute, encouraged retreat from the conventions of boundary-making between disciplines and epistemologies, in order to nurture an ecology of practices.

While the theme of ABOAGORA 2020 was water, the Pre-Symposium focused on the significance of place in research and artistic practices: what are the different senses of place in the work of a researcher or an artist? How are our practices making their mark on the environment, and how does the environment affect our practices?

The participating group of doctoral researchers and artists, selected through an open call, brought together multidisciplinary expertise on pre-historic sacred sites, media and film studies, and ecologically engaged visual art practices: John Björkman, Alexandra Ianchenko, Selina Oakes, Aleksi Rennes, Ulla Valovesi, and Kari Yli-Annala.

The programme included presentations, walks and fieldwork led by professor emeritus Ilppo Vuorinen, professor Anna Törnroos-Remes, filmmaker Lotta Petronella, and curator Taru Elfving. The Pre-Symposium participants presented their individual research projects and collective enquiries at the symposium workshop titled Senses of Seili on 20 August 2020.

The Aboagora Pre-Symposium was a joint effort of Aboagora organizing committee, University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and Arts Academy of Turku University of Applied Sciences, funded by Kone Foundation. It was organized in collaboration with Strategic Research Area Havet/Meri (The Sea) of University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Archipelago Research Institute in Seili, and CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago.

ABOAGORA – Between Arts and Sciences is an annual symposium that since 2011 has offered a forum for researchers, artists, and the public to initiate new dialogues and collaborations in interdisciplinary discussions, workshops, and artistic interventions. In 2020, Aboagora continued the five-year thematic cycle for 2019 to 2023, The Five Rings (Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Void).