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.