IHME Commission 2022

Installation View: Amar Kanwar: The Sovereign Forest, Documenta 13, Kassel, 2012, Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

IHME Helsinki 2022 Commission is an online course created by Indian artist Amar Kanwar. Please, find the detailed description of the course below.

The course will be available to all residents of Finland who may be interested to register.

It will take place on Tuesdays at 16.00 EEST. The dates are as follows:  February 15, March 1, March 15, March 22, March 29, April 5, April 12, April 19, April 26 and May 3, 2022.

The participants are advised to reserve 30-35 hours to participate in the course modules plus the time for independent work (reading and assignment). The course will be conducted in English.

The course will have one main assignment. While doing this assignment is not compulsory, it is encouraged. Students will be asked to explore alternative methods of evaluating and comprehending a crime selected by them, particularly in an ecological context.

The registration period was Nov 15th, 2021 until Jan 9th, 2022.


Registration instructions for the Academy of Fine Arts and HELSUS students

The students of the Uniarts Helsinki’s Fine Arts Academy and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science within the University of Helsinki (HELSUS) should apply to the IHME Helsinki Commission 2022, the Learning from Doubt online course by artist Amar Kanwar via the apply processes of the Fine Arts Academy and HELSUS. The co-operation between IHME Helsinki and two universities enables students from different fields to co-operate in a course assignment prepared by Amar Kanwar.

In addition to the course content offered by Amar Kanwar, the students chosen to the course have the opportunity to participate on-site and online meetings led by Heini Nieminen (Academy of Fine Arts) and Viktor Pal (Environmental HELSUS, University of Helsinki). IHME Helsinki’s Executive Director and Curator Paula Toppila will also participate in these meetings. In these meetings we discuss the contents of each course module and work in small groups on the course assignment. Apply to the course by doing an assignment.

Application instructions for the Fine Arts Academy students here >>

Application instructions for  the HELSUS students here >>

The application period for the Fine Arts Academy and HELSUS students is 15.11-15.12.2021.


Complete Overview + Course Description:

The IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 entitled, Learning from Doubt, by Indian artist and filmmaker Amar Kanwar, is a ten-week online educational course. The course is based on and emerges from the art installation and exhibition, The Sovereign Forest, by Kanwar. The Sovereign Forest, is an art project that has been ongoing since 2009. It has been evolving, expanding and experimenting with different forms and presentations, and has been made in collaboration with Samadrusti/Sudhir Pattnaik and Sherna Dastur. Samadrusti is a fortnightly Odia political and social news magazine, Sudhir Pattnaik is the editor of Samadrusti and a social activist. Sherna Dastur is a graphic designer and filmmaker based in Delhi.

Experiences gained during the making and exhibiting of The Sovereign Forest and lessons learned from experiments about ecological sustainability with a unique seed bank in the state of Odisha, are integrated into the course. Over the ten weeks, participants will focus on the various elements that make up The Sovereign Forest exhibition—films, books, stories, seeds, images— and approach the concept of ‘evidence of a crime’ from a different perspective. The course aims to develop the ability to use a multi-disciplinary approach to research, integrate community experiences and develop the ability to positively engage with contradictions and doubts. Students will also experiment with the understanding of evidence through ‘a selected scene of crime’ from their own experiences and communities. They will also view previous films by Amar Kanwar.

The course will be taught online through films, readings, podcasts, and live interactive sessions with the artist. Some films will also be shown in a physical location in Helsinki.

The course will have one main assignment. While doing this assignment is not compulsory, it is encouraged. Students will be asked to explore alternative methods of evaluating and comprehending a crime selected by them, particularly in an ecological context.

Once the course begins, new modules will be added to the website each week, on Tuesdays. All previous modules will be available on the website for students to refer back to at any time during the course.

Module 1, February 15th : Elements of Preparation

Selected readings that present ways of thinking. (Approx: 2 hours)

Module 2, March 1st : Films

Viewing few previous works of Amar Kanwar. (Approx: 4 hours)

Module 3, March 15th : The Scene of Crime

Introduction to The Sovereign Forest exhibition and viewing of two films.

Opening up the question: What can be a scene of crime?

Interaction with Amar Kanwar. (Approx: 3 hours)

Module 4, March 22nd and Module 5, March 29th: The Exhibition

A closer look at elements from The Sovereign Forest Exhibition. (Approx: 4 hours)

Module 6, April 5th: Seed Bank

Learning from the Indigenous Seed Bank in Odisha, its idea, philosophy and politics. (Approx: 3 hours)

Module 7, April 12th and Module 8, April 19th : Evidence

Re-imagining evidence. Looking at the process and outcome of ‘evidence collection’ in multiple forms and in possible collaborations with communities.

Participants to collect evidence about a ‘scene of crime selected by them’ and to develop their own understandings and conclusions.

Week 8 includes interaction with Amar Kanwar.

(Approx: 6 hours)

Module 9, April 26th: Sustainability

Critically addressing the concept of sustainability. 

Discussing the learnings, and experiences of the seed bank in Odisha.

(Approx: 3 hours)

Module 10, May 3rd: Assignment

Discussions between participants and Amar Kanwar about the assignment done during the course.

Links for students to know about Amar Kanwar:

Amar Kanwar: Louder than Words

Amar Kanwar Website

For more information see below.


IHME Helsinki 2022: Amar Kanwar, Learning from Doubt

If every moment contains the possibility of being alive and being dead then could an acute awareness of every moment also create an acute consciousness of living and dying? If a crime continues to occur regardless of the enormous evidence available then is the crime invisible or the evidence invisible or are both visible but not seen?” Amar Kanwar

The IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 Learning from Doubt by artist, film maker Amar Kanwar is an online, ten-week educational course based on and emerging from Kanwar´s art installation and exhibition The Sovereign Forest. Lessons learned from experiments on ecological sustainability with a unique rice seed bank in the village of Narisho in Odisha, India and the experiences gained during the making and exhibiting of The Sovereign Forest are integrated into the course.

The Sovereign Forest is an art project that has been ongoing since 2009 and has been evolving, expanding and experimenting with different forms and presentations. It has been made in collaboration with Samadrusti/ Sudhir Pattnaik and Sherna Dastur. Samadrusti is a fortnightly Odia political and social news magazine, Sudhir Pattnaik is the editor of Samadrusti and a social activist. Sherna Dastur is a graphic designer and filmmaker based in Delhi.

The project emerges primarily from the state of Odisha, Eastern India. Odisha has been the epicentre of conflicts between local communities and the government and corporations over the control of agricultural land, rivers, forests, mountains, and mineral sources. The forcible displacement of indigenous (tribal) communities and peasants has been a brutal part of the cycle of life since the 1950’s. How could we begin to comprehend differently, intervene, respond and develop solutions to this continuous cycle?

The Sovereign Forest attempts to initiate a creative response to our understanding of crime, politics, human rights, and ecology. The validity of poetry as evidence in a trial, the discourse on seeing, compassion, justice, and the determination of the self, all come together in a constellation of films, texts, books, photographs, seeds and processes. The Sovereign Forest has overlapping identities. It continuously reincarnates as an art installation, an exhibition, a library, a memorial, a public trial, an open call for the collection of more “evidence,” an archive, a school and also a proposition for a space that engages with education, politics and art. In 2022, in collaboration with IHME Helsinki, we again seek for another way to learn, share, address contradictions and dilemmas, and find newer solutions.

The online course Learning from Doubt will share in detail the making of the exhibition’s various elements: films, books, stories and processes. It will also share lessons learned from the engagement with the rice seed bank, its principles of indigenous seed ownership, conservation and farming. An experiment with seed sustainability will also be done in 2021 and the course will integrate this experience and evaluate the seed sustainability intervention.

The course will be taught online through films, readings, podcasts, and live interactive sessions with the artist.

Some of the films will also be shown in a physical location in Helsinki. Inputs and experiences from various multi-disciplinary collaborators will also be included throughout the course. It will include optional assignments designed to further personal and professional growth, and not for evaluation. Through the online course it is hoped that participants also gain an understanding of varied approaches and solutions on ecology, agriculture and sustainability issues as well as developing different parameters for measuring art, output and impact.

The online course Learning from Doubt will be available to all residents of Finland who may be interested to register. Students from the Fine Arts Academy of the University of Arts and from Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science of University of Helsinki are invited to take part in the course over ten weeks indicated above in the Spring of 2022.

The course will take place on Tuesdays at 16.00 EEST. The dates are as follows: 15.2,1.3, 15.3, 22.3, 29.3, 5.4, 12.4, 19.4, 26.4 and 3.5 The participants are advised to reserve 30-35 hours to do the whole course. The course will be conducted in English.

Registration to the course has ended.


Introduction to Amar Kanwar

Amar Kanwar is an artist, born in 1964 in New Delhi, India, where he currently lives and works. His films and multi‐layered installations originate in narratives often drawn from zones of conflict and are characterized by a unique poetic approach to the personal, social and political.

Recent solo exhibitions of Kanwar’s work have been held at the Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai and New York University, Abu Dhabi Art Gallery (2020); Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (2019); Tate Modern, London, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2018); Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden and Frac Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France (2017); Goethe Institut Mumbai (2016) and at the Assam State Museum in collaboration with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and North East Network, India (2015). In 2013 and 2014 at the Art Institute of Chicago; Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2012).

Kanwar has also participated in Documenta 11, 12, 13 and 14 in Kassel, Germany (2002, 2007, 2012, 2017). Other solo exhibitions have been at the Haus der Kunst, Munich and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, (2007); National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, (2006) and the Renaissance Society, Chicago,(2004).

Amar Kanwar has received several awards, including the Prince Claus Award (2017); Creative Time´s  Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change (2014); Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Maine College of Art, USA (2006); Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art, Norway (2005); MacArthur Fellowship in India (2000); Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, USA (1999), as well as the Golden Conch, Mumbai International Film Festival, India (1998). He is also the co-curator of the 17th Istanbul Biennial 2021-22.

www.amarkanwar.com 


Why Amar Kanwar

“Amar Kanwar´s career as a contemporary artist is remarkable in many ways. His poetic and political film installations at the Documenta exhibitions were already familiar to the Advisory Board. But what weighed the most when we were deciding on the IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 was Kanwar´s long-term commitment to the community in Odisha, India, and how that manifests in his continuously developing installation The Sovereign Forest. His creative investigations on crime, politics, human rights, and ecology remind us of how important compassion, encounters and listening are on our way towards a more sustainable and resilient future and how art can lead change.

From the perspective of ecologically sustainable art-institution practise we wanted to select an ongoing project that could be shared with our audiences in Finland, while at the same time be already happening in another location outside of Finland. Amar Kanwar´s Learning from Doubt online course further supports continuous learning, learning about life itself and its interdependencies. What could be more relevant in the times of ecological transition to learn about? ” says Chair of Advisory Board Paula Toppila on the decision to select Amar Kanwar.

Amar Kanwar was selected by the Advisory Board of IHME Helsinki. The members are Professor Ute Meta Bauer (Nanyang Technological University), Dean Hanna Johansson (Fine Arts Academy, University of Arts), Professor Jussi Parikka (Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton and FAMU, Prague), artist-researcher Antti Majava and it is Chaired by Executive Director and Curator of IHME Helsinki Paula Toppila.