IHME’s Nature Dialogue event got ideas flowing

22/03/2022
Jana Winderen's IHME Commission 2020 sparked conversation about noise pollution. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

IHME Helsinki participated in Sitra’s Great Nature Dialogue Day on March 9, 2022 by organizing its own Nature Dialogue event for art lovers. At the heart of the lively debate was the question of art lovers’ relationship with nature: How can we better understand the ecological crisis through art? What art experiences have influenced ideas about how to adapt to ecological boundary conditions?

 One important topic of discussion was the mental well-being made possible by both natural environments and artistic experiences. Art was seen as opening up and expanding perceptions of nature and its diversity. For example, Jana Winderen’s IHME Commission 2020 Listening Through the Dead Zones sparked a debate about the soundscapes of habitats. It had increased understanding of the deteriorating state of the seas and human-made noise pollution. The various methods used in art were also experienced as interfacing with nature and the environment.

 

Dialogue and art in resolving challenges

For many, the importance of dialogue remained uppermost among the ideas raised at the event. The “importance of discussion and information sharing” was seen as being at the heart of the nature-loss discussion. Through IHME commissions, the debate also addressed issues on a global level, since those related to climate change are universal.

 The discussion also crossed genre boundaries, with, for instance, literature having succeeded in articulating and stimulating ideas about biodiversity. Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory, Sanni Seppo’s and Ritva Kovalainen’s photography book Tree People, and Peter Wohlleben’s nonfictional The Hidden Life of Trees came up when talking about forests and humans’ relationship with them.

Art was seen as playing an essential role particularly in raising awareness of environmental crises and challenges: “Today’s challenges can be turned positive – art helps us recognize the challenges in the environment.” People retained memories of artistic experiences, some from long ago, with the influence of an arresting work lasting right up to today. For example, Falling Spruces by the Swedish artist Ulf Rollof at the ARS 95 exhibition had stayed strongly in mind.

 

Discussion of nature loss only just beginning

 Talking about nature loss was thought to be only just starting. In the discussion a distinction was made between short-term disasters and long-term crises. Climate change was seen as linked to numerous current crises, but was seen as the most fundamental problem today. There is a clear need for dialogue: the debate generated a “flow of ideas in motion”.

 

IHME’s Nature Dialogue event is part of Sitra’s Great Nature Dialogue Day. A summary of all the recorded Nature Dialogues will be used as part of Sitra’s Nature-wise Finland 2035 vision work. IHME Helsinki warmly thanks everyone who took part in the Nature Dialogue event for the varied and important discussion!