Spectres in Change: Site-Senstive Art-Science Research in the Archipelago Sea
13 Feb, 6-9pm
Goldsmiths, University of London SE14 6NW
How do you know what you know? has been the guiding question for artists and scientists coming together on the island of Seili in the Baltic Sea since 2017 to share methods, protocols and rituals of ecological enquiry. As a microcosm reflecting acute planetary challenges of the present against complex historical trajectories, the island has acted not only as a site but as a conspiring catalyst and mediator in the multidisciplinary dialogues. Prior to the establishment of the Archipelago Research Institute, the island served as a hospital, a site of confinement for lepers and most recently as a mental asylum exclusively for women. Long-term scientific mapping of the rapid transformations in the marine ecosystem is haunted in Seili today by centuries of institutionalised othering.
In the symposium, curator Taru Elfving introduces the collaborations addressing the myriad spectres of Seili. Insights into the ongoing work include Post Glacial Rebound by FoAM Earth, a soundwalk encouraging listening as the biological time of generations intersects with the slow time of tectonic forces, and the Band of Weeds’ interspecies cantata The New Pangaea, composed of field recordings of plants signalling diverse modes of migration to and disappearance from Seili. Artist and filmmaker Lotta Petronella presents her work-in-progress Själö Poeisis, a critical study of power structures on the island through plants, especially the common plants – the weeds, the vulgaris. The project consists of an artist book, a tarot herbarium, lecture performances, a choir work, an apothecary, botanical sessions and sleepings with plants.
Matterlurgy will share their work Field Casting, a research project and exhibition that investigates scientific ‘fieldwork’ as a site and subject of study, zooming in on the practices, tools and perspectives embroiled in the production of climate data. They will discuss the relationship between field practice and automated data collection and highlight knowledge as an event that is materially entangled with the lives of humans and nonhumans.
Fraud discuss Fields of May, a permanent installation within the Archipelago Research Institute in Seili. It is built with discarded naval wares from the museum-ship Sigyn (1887), a vessel which bore witness to transatlantic colonialism and the timber trade, as much as to the changing nature of Finnish forests. As an architecture of engagement that draws from legal and juridical traditions, Fields of May coalesces a diverse ecology of practices and historical-material specificities with the aim of cultivating the conditions of possibility that might conjure worlds attuned to non-extractive rhythms.
Spectres in Change symposium is chaired by Dr Ros Gray and hosted by the MA Art & Ecology and the Critical Ecologies research stream. The symposium is organised in collaboration with CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago, which has been leading the research project Spectres in Change in Seili since 2017, in partnership with Archipelago Research Institute of Turku University and supported by Kone Foundation, Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and Oskar Öflund Foundation.
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