CAA / Spectres in Change / Seili, Finland / 19-21 June 2017
Participants: Ayesha Hameed, Joanna Sandell and Steuart Wright, Katja Bonnevier , Laura Hollsten, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney, Pablo José Ramírez, Ilppo Vuorinen, Jari Hänninen, Katja Mäkinen, Outi Vesakoski, Lotta Petronella, Taru Elfving.
Spectres in Change is envisaged as a 5-year project that invites international contemporary artists to work at the multidisciplinary research institute focused on climate change in Turku Archipelago, Finland.
The island of Seili offers a rich context for artistic investigations and interventions as a microcosm that reflects the acute planetary challenges of the present against complex historical trajectories. Long-term scientific mapping of changes in the local ecosystem entwines here with centuries of institutionalised othering and biopolitics through the histories of illness and gender. The island has been a home to the Archipelago Research Institute since mid-1960's and holds a unique scientific collection of data. This provides now the basis for interdisciplinary modelling of future impacts of climate change as well as for analysis of the complex co-dependencies between different species including humans. Prior to the establishment of the Institute, the island served as a hospital, or a site of confinement, for lepers since the early 17th Century and then as a mental hospital for women.
The project approaches spectres as constituent phenomena in a modern society. Haunting is neither pagan superstition nor individual psychosis, but a particular way of knowing, as Avery Gordon argues (Gordon 1997). Following spectres - in the shadows and between disciplinary boundaries - the project sets out to draw to light a multiplicity of entangled environmental and societal transformations that call and allow for modes of active participation rather than mere implication. The island of Seili offers a deeply resonant context for transversal approaches to ecology via the different yet entwined registers - environment, social, mental - as defined by Felix Guattari (Guattari 1989). It allows for insights into climate change that address also the structures and values in need of fundamental rethinking.
Artists are invited to develop long-term research-based projects that take the myriad questions raised by the island context as their starting point. Contemporary art with its interdisciplinary and collaboratory methods reflects and responds to the complex relations of political ecology, as T J Demos claims (Demos 2016). Furthermore, the project is urged on by the capacity of artists to weave together otherwise incompatible perspectives and positions, while drawing out points of friction and leakage between different epistemologies, across micro and macro, or local and planetary scales. Spectres in Change is thus committed to supporting artistic practices and processes that leap towards the unknown - that holds promise both in the past and the future - amidst the urgencies to predict and model the impacts of escalating climate chaos.
- CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago (Taru Elfving and Lotta Petronella)
* Spectres: biological species appearing and disappearing; traces, interference, things coming in and out of existence; liminal dispruptions, tensions, invitations to stop and look; ruptures in the comfortable status quo; ghosts as memories of social phenomena; ghosts like scars affecting present social and eco-systems; disruptions in the present as (hi)stories or speculative layers of the landscape; spectres as things that can only be observed over long periods of time through sensing, communing, noticing - creating an archive of sensibilities about the island - how does the island exist through us and other beings?; How do we listen to the island? The island has a history of observation (e.g. patient records, 300 years of data about priest ceremonies for the first ice-breaking in the spring, biological time series). Observers and caretakers… Patience. “You know that something is there but you let it lie dormant.”
* Change: heterogeneity/diversity different approaches to time (biological - generations, geological - aeons…); phenomena observable over long time (time-series, time-lapse) the overlapping processes of change in the landscape, climate, in the institutions on the island. Creative process in both art and science is based on improvisation and formalised (ritual) gestures (e.g. sampling, scientific papers (ritualised writing), exhibitions…). Working seasonally.The island as a micro-zone of intensity. Human and non-human agencies.
How do we want to be on Seili?
The new alliance I propose is based on commitments to observation and fieldwork—and what I call noticing -Anna Tsing
Timescale: 3-5 years for a pilot/test including: