4 Dec 2018


ADAPTATIONS UTÖ – Site, Stories and Sensory Methods

Multidisciplinary Workshop in Utö, Turku Archipelago, Finland

September 24–27, 2015

HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme and a number of partners explore questions of site-based and sensory artistic methods and the entwined local and global ecological concerns by organising a four-day multidisciplinary workshop on the island of Utö in Turku Archipelago, with the theme ‘Adaptations’.

Due to its geopolitical position, Utö has a distinct history, infrastructure and social ecology from its surrounding islands. For centuries, it has been an important strategic location influenced by the presence of a lighthouse, a military base, and a navigation station. Depending on the point of view, Utö is simultaneously at the forefront and the final frontier before the open sea.  Histories of communication technologies, military infrastructure and ecological changes converge there. Besides allowing us to look into questions of locality we can see how global changes affect this small island.

Facing the open Baltic sea, Utö is the furthest inhabited island of the Turku archipelago. Taking the form of a slow-paced incubator, the workshop sets out to engage with the local ecology, the human and nonhuman forms of life and current concerns specific to the site. These are explored especially through sensory forms of observation and communication. The participants will be sharing and extending their research methods for approaching site, and their methods for capturing site-based research.

The workshop employs and fuses local knowledge, scientific expertise that is closely and empathically attached with the site, and artistic approaches. Also, it attempts to engage with nonhuman forms of knowledge. What kinds of understanding of the local eco-systems these experiential and experimental practices produce? What kinds of artistic devices could mediate these understandings? Through looking into the various ecologies (the marine biosphere, social and economic structures) of Utö and its surroundings the participants are encouraged to rethink how to approach questions of locality and the concepts of ‘frontier’ and ‘periphery’. Change is another key concept, as the invited experts and local inhabitants share their knowledge on how the archipelago has transformed over the centuries and what kinds of changes call for adaptations in Utö at present. Historical perspective to life on the island opens up through stories shared by long-term inhabitants of Utö.

The objectives of the Adaptations workshop are to share knowledge and multidisciplinary methods as well as to develop new ways for approaching questions of locality, ecology and change. It aims to form horizontal platforms for knowledge exchange through slow transitions, talks by various specialists, field trips with local hosts and guides, subtle exercises, film screenings and discussions.

The Adaptations workshop takes place within Frontiers in Retreat(2013–2018), a five-year project coordinated by HIAP, that develops new ways of approaching ecological questions and concerns through contemporary art. The workshop is curated in close collaboration with CAA – Contemporary Art Archipelago (Taru Elfving and Lotta Petronella), Jutempus (Zooetics) – a working group led by GediminasNomeda Urbonas (Art, Culture and Technology Program, MIT); associate partners from Aalto University (Professor Pia Lindman) and University of the Arts Helsinki (Professor Ulrika Ferm).

More information:

Jenni Nurmenniemi, Curator, Frontiers in Retreat