encountering emerging naturecultures

Art and Biopolitics (1.5.)


Dates (Period): May, 2021
Location: Helsinki / Espoo / Finland 
Organiser: Biofilia / Aalto University 

Four-week artist-in-residency at Biofilia, the base for art and biology at Aalto university, will be organized with the intent to critically reflect upon technical manipulation and exploitation of living systems, biological beings, other species, and the biosphere at large, whereby creating an artwork in relation to the explored themes. Aalto University has Biofilia, base for biological arts, which is a laboratory for biotechnology-based artistic work. GREEN Worklab 5 consists of a four-week artist-in-residency for a scientist and two artists. The intent is to critically reflect upon technical manipulation and exploitation of living systems, biological beings, other species, and the biosphere at large, whereby creating an artwork(s) in relation to the explored themes. Next to the Biofilia lab there’s a STEAM lab of Aalto University Junior. The University is an actor in the School service project in the city of Espoo: there are three senior high schools and an international comprehensive school at the University campus. During the GREEN residency we shall organise artist and scientist led workshops for youngsters studying in these schools. In the final presentation there will be shown works by artist&scientist collaboration as well as outcomes of STEAM workshops. We’ll organise a symposium to discuss GREEN matters.

Communities of compost is a bioartistic research project examining composting, the decomposition processes, and soil-life relationships. The working group, consisting of multidisciplinary photographic artist Noora Sandgren, performance and visual artist Tommi Tuurenpoika, and biologist Janka Mojzer, asks how to secede from the perspectives, in which earth and soil are perceived as mere background noise or resources to be capitalized? How can a creative process and artistic work come to life through discussion with soil?

The group is interested in soil as a living multitude of interwoven organisms, and processes of human and other-than-human interaction. The group will explore scientific processes and artistic strategies as ways to give the soil a voice. Artists and a scientist work to unfurl continuums of decomposition, growth, and soil-life to create a new understanding of these processes.

In May 2021 the group work in a residency for GREEN project in Aalto-university’s Biofilia lab specialized in meeting points of arts and sciences. They examine the decomposition process specifically by working with vermicomposts in which organic waste is broken down through the synergistic actions of earthworms and microbial communities. The end product is a very nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. The group researches the relationships of organisms of the compost network through microbiological methods, microscopy, photographic materialities, and DNA sequencing.

Via dialogical processes, including photography, installation, text-based and performative-somatic work, the aim is to create spaces for human beings to recognize and experience themselves as part of the decomposition process. The goal is a body of work that serves as a guided nature-expedition, i. e. tour through microbiological, embodied, and internal mental layers of decomposition.