Frontiers in Retreat: Edge Effects

While borders draw divisive lines, frontiers are transition and contact zones. Diversity is always richest in areas where different ecosystems meet: This is the edge effect. An encounter never leaves one unaffected.

In the five-year international collaboration project Frontiers in Retreat (2013–2018), seven residency sites at the edges of Europe have been approached using various artistic and multidisciplinary methods. These remote sites are seen as frontiers where entanglements between human and other life forms become tangible. They allow insight into the entwined processes of ecological, social, and economic change – in their local manifestations and across a planetary scale.

The project has mapped out artistic practices that respond to ecological urgencies, and explored the diverse ways in which ecology can be perceived. In 2014, 25 artists were invited to conduct research and produce new work in response to particular ecosystems. Their research has ranged across fjords, forests, islands, villages, towns, cities, and mountains in Iceland, Finland, Scotland, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, and Spain. Throughout the project, the participating artists and organisations have challenged the initial premises of the project – productively, towards increased diversity. Rather than a fixed set of theories, concepts, and methods, there are multiple voices and views, positions and practices: the edge effect, indeed.

In 2017, Frontiers in Retreat project will conclude with the exhibition series Edge Effects. Its seven satellite exhibitions* weave together the geographically dispersed processes and key discourses developed during the past four years.

The Edge Effects exhibition series concept has been developed by Frontiers in Retreat curator Jenni Nurmenniemi and project initiator and curatorial advisor Taru Elfving in dialogue with the seven project co-organisers. Besides reflecting the differences and resonances between the particular Frontiers sites, these discussions migrate into a new context via a group exhibition at Art Sonje Center in Seoul, curated by Jenni Nurmenniemi in dialogue with Bora Hong (Gallery Factory, Seoul). All the Edge Effects exhibitions present selected artworks, research processes and practices from the artists who have participated in the Frontiers residencies, as well as other artists whose work explores the intersections of art and ecology.

The Edge Effects exhibition series will begin in June 2017 and continue until December 2017. Each Frontiers site – Mustarinda, Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW), Cultural Front GRAD, Skaftfell, Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE, and Centre d’Art i Natura CAN curates and organises their own Edge Effects satellite and public programme that reflect their particular approach to ecology. The exhibitions, website and publications aim to assist anyone interested in the entanglements of art and ecology. We hope that the multiplicity of these approaches offer unexpected perspectives to ecological thinking, doing and being.

Jenni Nurmenniemi
Curator, Frontiers in Retreat; HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme
Taru Elfving
Curator, Project initiator and curatorial advisor

June–August 2017: Mustarinda, Hyrynsalmi, Finland
June–September 2017: Skaftfell – Center for Visual Art, Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
July–September 2017: Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE, Aizpute, Latvia
July 2017– : Centre d’Art i Natura CAN, Online exhibition
July 2017: SSW – Scottish Sculpture Workshop & CCA Glasgow, Scotland
November 2017: KC GRAD, Serbia
November–December 2017: HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, Art Sonje Center, in collaboration with Gallery Factory, Seoul, South Korea
February 2018: Jutempus, Zooetics Symposium, MIT Art, Culture & Technology, Cambridge, USA

The artists and more detailed exhibition programme will be announced during spring–summer 2017.

The concept for the Edge Effect exhibition series has been developed by curators Jenni Nurmenniemi (HIAP, Frontiers in Retreat) and Taru Elfving. Each of the eight project partners in Frontiers in Retreat curates and organises their own satellite exhibition within the Edge Effects framework, focussing on artists, questions and methods of their choice.