IHME 2018: Henrik Håkansson’s THE BEETLE


The Swedish artist Henrik Håkansson (b. 1968) has been chosen to make the 2018 IHME Project. Håkansson’s IHME Project, THE BEETLE, takes an insect’s eye view of the planet.

Håkansson will be placing an endangered species of beetle from Vantaa, the halavasepikkä (Hylochares cruentatus), at the focal point of his work. The only known population of halavasepikkä beetles lives in the Mätäoja River area in Vantaa, where Håkansson’s work has been filmed. The beetle’s genus, hylochares, means ’wood loving’ and cruentatus means blood red, the color of its feet. This rare insect is dependent on a species of willow that is losing its wetland habitats due to human attempts to prevent flooding in urban environments.

Seen more broadly the fate of the halavasepikkä is also linked with a reduction in insect-species numbers around the globe. This mass disappearance has been worrying researchers since insects play an important role, for instance, in the food chain of many other species and as pollinators of plants.

Next spring’s IHME Project is a film that will be screened as part of the Festival programme at Helsinki’s Korjaamo Culture Factory on 25–26.5.2018. Apart from moving images the work will also extend outwards as far as the vicinity of the halavasepikkä’s habitat in Vantaa.

Why Henrik Håkansson?

“We wanted to show various ways of working as an artist and different approaches to art, the world and reality,” is how expert-group member and critic Timo Valjakka explains his own reasons for choosing the artist.” Another member of the workgroup, Professor of Contemporary Art Research Hanna Johansson, adds: “Since the mid-90s Håkansson has presented alternatives to anthropocentric actions and worldviews, by seeing things from the viewpoint of plants and animal species.”

Read more about the 2018 IHME Project and the selection criteria >

The focus is on an insect, or is it actually on human beings?

“The Beetle, the halavasepikkä, is perhaps not acting in the lead role, but rather is reflected upon as being the main protagonist, and as such is an actor, but is not acting. This is an act that came out of the situation when the Insect was placed in front of the lens, and as such it is being itself,” is how Håkansson puts it.

“This representative of the insect realm less than a centimetre long prompts us to ask big questions: Is our planet becoming too small for a vast human species? On what grounds do we make a distinction between nature and culture? Where do the boundaries between human and non-human lie?” asks IHME’s Executive Director Paula and the Project’s curator Paula Toppila. The Festival’s discussion and film programme will expand on the issues raised by the Project on the last weekend of May at Korjaamo.

Read more about the Festival themes >