Lecturers of the course among others are (upper left) Artist Katie Paterson, Artist Samir Bhowmik, Artist, Researcher Susan Schuppli, (from down left) Artist Jana Winderen, Executive Director, Curator Paula Toppila and Artist, Researcher Antti Majava.

ART, SCIENCE, ECOLOGY – courses in Spring 2021


In January 2021, the Art, Science, Ecology course will begin on the initiative of the contemporary-art commissioning agency IHME Helsinki, and in collaboration with the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS at the University of Helsinki and Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts.

The aim of the course is to increase consciousness of the impacts of the sustainability crisis on art, science and society, plus producing and analysing the information necessary for the change in thinking and acting required by the sustainability crisis. On the course, practitioners of art and science will together be able to investigate some complex phenomena of our time. The course workshops are aimed at students of the collaborating universities, all the lectures in the course will be given online, and will be free and open to everyone who is interested. Enter the lectures here >>

The objective of each part of the course is to consider the changes in thought and action required by the environmental crisis and how that change is/will be visible in the life, work and environment of each artist/curator/researcher/student. Questions that the course is aiming to raise are for example what sort of change does the environmental crisis call for in our relationship with the following concepts and manifestations of them: artistic/scientific freedom – materiality – corporeality – language, concepts – the importance of biodiversity – relations between humans and other species – the attitude to the environment in our own professional work, what load does it place on the environment? How to transform this load into it´s reverse?

Lecturers & workshop leaders

The course lecturers and workshop leaders are artists, researchers and curators from Finland and abroad who work in the middle ground between art and science.

  • Antti Majava: The artist and BIOS Research Unit researcher Antti Majava opens the course by considering, with the aid of historical examples and workshop activities, what task art should perform in the ecological transition. >>
  • Susan Schuppli: In her work the Britain-resident researcher and artist Susan Schuppli studies the material evidence of conflicts, environmental destruction and climate change. On the course she will talk about her latest research and her works, which deal with research on the subject of frozen water and the politics of “cold”. >>
  • Jana Winderen: The maker of this year’s IHME Helsinki Commission  2020 Jana Winderen will talk about making  Listening Through the Dead Zones art project  in Helsinki in August 2021, and in the workshop the students will practise listening as an artistic and scientific method. >>
  • Katie Paterson: The maker of IHME Helsinki Commission 2021, the Scottish artist Katie Paterson, will give a lecture about her work To Burn, Forest, Fire, to be made in Helsinki, and discuss the dialogue between art and science with researchers who helped in the project. >>
  • Samir Bhowmik: The artist Samir Bhowmik unpacks the concept of material and cultural extraction in the context of media culture and art, in order to open up, on the one hand, understanding of the exploitation of natural resources and, on the other hand, of the changes occurring in the environment as consequence of it. >>
  • Paula Toppila: IHME Helsinki’s Executive Director and curator Paula Toppila will expand on IHME Helsinki’s efforts to achieve ecologically sustainable solutions in its annual artwork curation and production. >>

The contributors to the programme living abroad will all participate online and most recordings of their contributions will be posted on IHME’s YouTube channel.

The course info for the students of the universities

The course workshops are aimed only at students of the collaborating universities. All the lectures will be free and open to everyone who is interested and can be attended via Zoom online. The students from Academy of Fine Arts and HELSUS attending the course will have more detailed info of the course practicalities by email.

At most 20 students, ten from the Academy of Fine Arts and ten registered and selected through HELSUS (5 natural sciences and 5 social sciences and humanities students) will be accepted for the course in order of registration. The registration has ended.

The students of the University of Helsinki are selected on the first come first served principle. The accepted students will be granted the right to complete this course by the Academy of Fine Arts / University of the Arts Helsinki. After completion of the course the students will get a transcript of studies, which will allow them to transfer the credits to the University of Helsinki degree programme.

The Zoom link for open online lectures >>

Scope of the course: 5 credits.

The course is evaluated: pass/fail

Teachers in charge: Janna Pietikäinen, Mikko Saikku, Sirpa Tani /HELSUS

Link to lectures

The link to all the open lectures:

The lectures are held on zoom platform. You don’t need to register to enter the lectures.

Please see the lecture times below from the course programme. Also note that the times are local time in Helsinki (EEST).

Technical instructions

Make sure you have the latest version (5.4.2) of the Zoom software. You can download it here: These browsers support Zoom – update yours, if necessary:

  • Internet Explorer 10 or higher
  • Chromium Edge 80 or higher
  • Google Chrome 53.0.2785 or higher
  • Safari 10.0.602.1.50 or higher
  • Firefox 76 or higher

The best way to participate is via hard-wired broadband, which is also slightly more ecological than mobile data. If your connection is patchy, it is worth remembering that you can view most of the lectures on IHME’s YouTube channel later on.

Safe space guidelines: 

We follow safe space guidelines in all of our events. The meeting is free from discrimination such as racism, sexism and ableism. Please make everyone feel safe to participate and do not make assumptions about each other based on gender, health, abilities or other stereotypes. You can always give feedback and tell about discriminatory or other interference to representative of IHME in the meetings or after the meeting by email

Please give us feedback of the lectures:

We want to develop our operations, and feedback is important to us.

Three T-shirts designed by artist Jana Winderen will be drawn among the feedback providers who leave their email address. The print on the T-shirts refers to the Winderen’s IHME Helsinki commission 2020 “Listening Thorugh the Dead Zones”. Alternatively you can choose as a prize the IHME 2009-2018 – Public Art x 10 book.


Antti Majava: Art – a Radical Transition Strategy

Mon 25.1.2021 at 16:00-17:00 EEST

Art – a Radical Transition Strategy – ONLINE LECTURE (ENG), 1 h.

Artist, researcher Antti Majava. Open to all.

The lecture documentation >>

Mon 1.2.2021 at 16:00-19:00

Art – a Radical Transition Strategy – WORKSHOP (ENG), 3 h.

Artist, researcher Antti Majava. – HELSUS and KUVA students.

Where: Online at zoom.

The lecture and the workshop following it will make a cross-exposure of the history of art and the history of socio-ecological transitions in modern (and postmodern) societies. The participants will discuss the inter-linkages between communication in the cultural sphere and the metabolism of the material sphere, and how these links are present in contemporary art. Art practice is often a combination of material and theoretical elements, and thus provides an interesting backdrop for better understanding of the materialities of cultural and societal processes. Culture can be seen as a collection of material and conceptual conventions. Especially the avant-garde art of the 19th and 20th (21st) centuries has been understood as a transitional force, breaking old conventions and establishing new ones. What is, or would be, art’s role in the ongoing energy-related, social and ecological transitions?

Objectives & Outcomes: During and after the workshop, students are free to choose any medium – images words, video, etc. – to make their own rendition of what the next major transition could be like. The work can be done individually or with a working partner/group. Deadline for the outcome is 15.2.2021 and the platform to share your outcome is at University of Arts´ Teams, where the accepted students have been invited. If you have any problems with accessing the platform, please contact Virva Sointu

Katie Paterson: about artistic practice and the discussion on To Burn, Forest, Fire

Mon 8.2.2021 at 16:00-17:00 EEST

Artist Katie Paterson – ONLINE LECTURE. 1h. Open to all.

Artist Katie Paterson lectures on her artistic practice, the IHME Helsinki Commission 2021 To Burn, Forest, Fire.

Collaborating with scientists and researchers across the world, Paterson’s projects consider our place on Earth in the context of geological time and change. Her artworks make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. One of the best known works of Paterson is Future Library in Oslo, Norway.

Further information

Please note, that this lecture will not be available in IHME´s Youtube channel afterwards.

Wed 10.2.2021 at 16:00-17:00 EEST

IHME Helsinki Commission 2021: To Burn, Forest, Fire – ONLINE DISCUSSION (ENG), 1 h. Open to all.

IHME Helsinki Commission artist Katie Paterson, Emeritus Professor of Palaeobiology Jan Zalasiewicz (University of Leicester), Docent in Paleoclimatology J. Sakari Salonen (University of Helsinki)

The artist Katie Paterson will discuss with Emeritus Professor Jan Zalasiewicz, School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester and Docent in Palaeoclimatology J. Sakari Salonen, University of Helsinki. They will discuss the research done for Katie Paterson’s IHME Helsinki Commission To Burn, Forest, Fire, and go on to the role of art and science in reclaiming our belief in the future in the age of climate crisis. How do scientific and experiential knowledge, past and future, occur in Katie Paterson’s art? What is art’s role in the ecological transition?

The conversation documentation >>

Objectives and outcomes: Students will learn about the dialogue between art and science in an artistic production, and about the methods used in Katie Paterson’s artistic practice. Students will write or otherwise mediate a summary of  their ponderings on the talk and the discussion based on the following questions composed by Katie Paterson: What environmental changes do you want to witness within your lifetime? What gives you the most hope in relation to ecological change? What can artists offer future generations? Deadline for the outcome is 24.2.2021 and the platform to share your outcome is at University of Arts´ Teams, where the accepted students have been invited. If you have any problems with accessing the platform, please contact Virva Sointu

Susan Schuppli: Ice Cores

Tues 16.2. 2021 at 16:00-18:00 EEST

Ice Cores – FILM AND ONLINE LECTURE (ENG), 2 h. Open to all.

(Film duration 1h 6 min, lecture 30 min, discussion 15 min.)

Artist, Researcher Susan Schuppli.

Documentary dir. Susan Schuppli.

This presentation will introduce a body of artistic work and research exploring the many different knowledge practices that are mediated by “ice”, from scientific expertise to local knowledge and indigenous traditions. While the first phase of my work explored ice-core science and resulted in documentary films shot in the Canadian Ice Core Archive, a US geochemistry lab, and the Svalbard Arctic Archipelago, the next phase shifts the focus to conducting fieldwork and related activities in the Himalayan mountain regions. This is an area of the world where the changing material conditions of glacial ice are not only impacting directly upon local communities but also climate systems globally. In developing these sequenced projects my research aims to coalesce disparate – and oftentimes incommensurate – forms of knowledge across a wide range of spatial scales and contexts that, when taken together, create a more complex understanding of our current ecological condition.

Please note that only the talk part of the lecture will be documented for later viewing.

Wed 17.2.2021 at 16:00-19:00

JUST ICE: Cold Rights within a Warming World – ONLINE WORKSHOP (ENG), 3 h. HELSUS and KUVA students.

Artist, Researcher Susan Schuppli.

This workshop aims to explore a series of “cold cases” in which we engage with the various ways in which the changing material condition of frozen water has become a subject of wide-ranging contestation, arising from human processes that have damaged cryospheric stability and even sought to operationalize cold. From ecological issues of glacial retreat and sea-level rise, renewed demands for indigenous sovereignty and environmental governance, territorial claims aimed at increasing access to oil and gas resources made possible because of Arctic melting and permafrost thawing, legal petitions arguing for the human right to be cold, conservation projects focused on glacial guardianship and the preservation of ice cores from endangered glaciers, to the weaponization of cold as a strategy of policing at the US/Mexico border, where migrants are held in freezer-like cells known as “Iceboxes”, to the use of cold-water cannons against protestors at Standing Rock in the dead of winter. Although ice is a familiar domesticated material, it is also intensely political – it is this complex thermostatic condition that we will explore together through a series of cold cases generated by participants in this workshop.

Objectives & Outcomes: Each participant is asked to present one case study at the workshop (please be as specific as possible) outlining the context and contestations that are at stake. Ideally this mini-presentation will include audio-visuals, maps, reports, and any other related supporting documents. Together we will aim to build an online archive of cold-case files. Deadline for the outcome is 3.3.2021 and the platform to share your outcome is at University of Arts´ Teams, where the accepted students have been invited. If you have any problems with accessing the platform, please contact Virva Sointu

Further information:

Jana Winderen: Listening Through the Dead Zones

Wed 24.2. 2021 at 16:00-17:00 EEST

Listening Through the Dead Zones, the work for a sound installation – ONLINE LECTURE (ENG), 1 h. Open to all.

IHME Helsinki Commission artist Jana Winderen. 

Jana Winderen will talk about her work for the commission from IHME, with examples of earlier work and methods of working.

Thurs 25.2.2021 at 16:00-19:00

Screaming at a small bird. An active-listening workshop – ONLINE WORKSHOP (ENG), 3 h. HELSUS and KUVA students.

IHME Helsinki Commission artist Jana Winderen.

Before the lecture, students will be given the task of going to particular sites and listening, for example, at different distances from the shore, in the water etc. In the workshop the participants will share their listening experiences, how listening works as a tool for sound as information, and how it relates to the concept of sustainability and the other topics of the course. Students are asked to share their experiences on a video, max 5 min, as audio or written word, sketch or photograph. Jana Winderen will write to students with more detailed instructions in January 2021.

Objectives and outcomes: In this workshop students will learn to use listening as a method, as a tool for understanding sound as information, and through sound to gain empathy for other species and each other in our shared environment. Students from different disciplines will share their expertise with each other and learn about artistic and scientific approaches. The pre-assignment related to Jana Winderen’s workshop has been shared on the university’s Teams platform for the students attending the course. Exceptionally, the outputs of the listening assignment will be discussed at the Winderen workshop on February 25, 2021.

Further information and links to sound samples:

Samir Bhowmik: Media Cultures of Extraction

Mon 15.3.2021 at 16:00–20:00 EEST

Media Cultures of Extraction – ONLINE LECTURE (ENG), 1h. Open to all.

Media Cultures of Extraction – WORKSHOP (ENG), 3 h. KUVA and HELSUS students.

Artist Samir Bhowmik

This lecture and the workshop following it tackle historical and contemporary questions of extraction in the context of media culture and artistic work that deals with extraction. Besides investigating the concept – its usefulness for understanding the material processes of resource extraction and the transformation of planetary landscapes – it is also articulated through contemporary art projects that deal with themes such as Unknown Fields’ Lithium project, and others, including the artists’s own performative art projects.

Objectives and outcomes: Students will learn about the concept of extraction in the context of media culture and art, how it works as a tool for understanding transformation of planetary landscapes. In the workshop they will make a short cartography of extraction in the Finnish context, examining the entanglements of geology, indigenous lands, and extractive metals for media technologies. Using the periodic table of elements, together we will build an online repository of extraction-related environmental damage, resolutions and artistic projects seen through the lens of media culture. Deadline for the outcome is 29.3.2021 and the platform to share your outcome is at University of Arts´ Teams, where the accepted students have been invited. If you have any problems with accessing the platform, please contact Virva Sointu

Paula Toppila: Ecologically sustainable curating

Tue 23.3.2021 at 16:00-19:00 EEST

Ecologically sustainable curating – IHME Helsinki. Collaboration with the artists Jana Winderen and Katie Paterson. – ONLINE LECTURE (ENG), 1 h. Open to all.

Ecologically sustainable curating. – WORKSHOP (ENG), 3 h. KUVA and HELSUS students.

Executive Director, curator Paula Toppila. 

IHME Helsinki’s goal is to achieve a carbon-neutral art-institution practice as soon as possible. The focus of IHME Helsinki’s work is on the annual commissioned art work in the public realm. With the artist making it we consider: How are we to safeguard artistic freedom within a framework of life-sustaining systems? In her lecture Toppila will put forward the art-institution viewpoint on the works produced in collaboration with Jana Winderen and Katie Paterson. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic IHME Helsinki Commissions 2020 and 2021 are both being realized in August-September 2021.

Objectives and outcomes: Pairs/small groups of workshop participants will be given the task of thinking about curating and producing contemporary art from a sustainability viewpoint by devising an example work (selecting the art work, display context, ecologically sustainable implementation plan). What kind of world would have only sustainable solutions? What will we have to give up, what will be put in its place? What does artistic freedom within a framework of life-sustaining systems mean? A written and/or visual summary will be made of the outcomes of the workshop, with case examples and implementation scenario(s). Deadline for the outcome is 6.4.2021 and the platform to share your outcome is at University of Arts´ Teams, where the accepted students have been invited. If you have any problems with accessing the platform, please contact Virva Sointu

Details of the course may change.

NEXT SUMMER IHME Helsinki Commissions 2020 and 2021 to visit:

Jana Winderen, Listening Through the Dead Zones, Rowing Stadium, Töölö, Helsinki, August 2021.

Katie Paterson, To Burn, Forest, Fire, various parts of the Helsinki city, dates to be announced later.