IHME Commission 2020

  • Jana Winderen Helsingin soutustadionilla. / Jana Winderen at the Helsinki rowing stadium. Kuva / Photo: Veikko Somerpuro.

  • Listening Through the Dead Zones -teoksen voi kokea soutustadionilla. / Listening Through the Dead Zones can be experienced at the Helsinki rowing stadium. Kuva / Photo: Veikko Somerpuro.

  • Jana Winderen ja Tony Myatt suunnittelivat tilallisen ääniteoksen soutustadionin katsomoon. / Jana Winderen and Tony Myatt designed the spatial sound installation for the Helsinki rowing stadium grandstand. Kuva / Photo: Veikko Somerpuro.

Listening Through the Dead Zones [excerpt]

An online version of Jana Winderen’s IHME Helsinki commission has been published as part of the World Weather Network. The piece can be listened to on the network’s website between June 24, 2022 and June 24, 2023. Listen to the work here >>


IHME Helsinki commission 2020 – Jana Winderen: Listening Through the Dead Zones

Rowing Stadium (Merikannontie 4, 00260 Helsinki)

6 -24 August, 2021

10 am – 8 pm, every day

Free entrance

IHME Helsinki commission Listening Through the Dead Zones is a site-specific sound installation by the Norwegian artist Jana Winderen, in collaboration with Tony Myatt.

On the shore of the Baltic Sea, at the Rowing Stadium in Helsinki, the audience will be able to listen to different species of mammals, including humans, and to various species of fish and crustacea inhabiting the Ocean. Winderen has been investigating how human activity is influencing the dead zones in the Baltic Sea and similar environments close to shores and in lakes.

Winderen is an artist who is exploring the way human beings interact with and live in their environment with other creatures and plants, and in particular our shared sound environments underwater.

The commission was postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Curator´s Essay: Listening Through the Dead Zones

Bathed in Sound Like Water

IHME Helsinki 2020: Jana Winderen, Listening Through the Dead Zones, 6–25.8.2021, Helsinki

August 2021, Töölö Rowing Stadium, Helsinki. I sit on the stadium bench in the grandstand facing the sea and greet people climbing up the steps. I recognize a couple who have been to the stadium to listen to Jana Winderen’s sound work several times, sometimes walking between the benches and speakers looking for the best place to listen, sometimes resting on the benches wrapped in a blanket, sometimes alone, and then together again. Many visitors spend an hour at the stadium, or even more. Many come again. When you climb the stairs, the wind blows against you and the open seascape takes your breath away for a moment. The warmth of the evening sun and its orange-yellow light flood the grandstand, landing on the faces of all those present and on a swarm of insects resting on the white wall. Jana Winderen’s site-specific sound work fine-tunes the senses of the audience to the flow of recorded and real-time sounds. (…)

Read the whole essay by Curator Paula Toppila >>


The route to the artwork is accessible, but unfortunately the toilets are not barrier-free.

If necessary, the Rowing Stadium gate can be reached by car. From the gate to the Rowing Stadium grandstand, where the artwork is located, there is about 30 meters through the yard along a gravel road. The accessible route runs from the right side of the Rowing Stadium to the top platform of the lower grandstand. The concrete-covered plateau offers a sea view, and you can hear the installation well. The plateau is not covered from rain. Seating on the deck is available on request.

Access to the covered upper grandstand is via stairs (threshold 14 cm, 11 stairs with a height of 15 cm). The upper grandstand itself is completely staggered. There are seats in the upper grandstand.

The toilets are accessed from the right side of the Rowing Stadium along a path. The path is paved with gravel, but its condition is poor. The trail passes through a short, but rather steep, downhill. The height of the gender-neutral toilet thresholds vary between 5 and 10 cm and the width of the door openings is 80 cm.

Guide dogs are welcome.

The artwork has several audience workers always present, who are happy to assist with mobility and other needs.

Expert interviews and talks

Instead of organizing a seminar in Helsinki, Jana Winderen, together with IHME’s Executive Director, Curator Paula Toppila, has conducted a series of interviews. Local people, scientists and other experts from different fields share their thoughts, current research results, news and ways that any one of us can mitigate bad living conditions, underwater sound pollution, eutrophication and biodiversity loss in the Baltic Sea as part of the World’s Ocean. The online interviews are part of the commission and one way to reduce the carbon footprint of the production.

Listening Through the Dead Zones kick-off event

The Listening Through the Dead Zones kick-off event was held on Saturday 22 August 2020 at the Rowing Stadium. The event focused on the importance of data and citizen activity for the well-being of the Baltic Sea.

Listening Through the Dead Zones kick off event at the Rowing Stadium August 22 >>

IHME Helsinki 2020 -kickoff focussed on Baltic Sea >>

Jana Winderen’s lecture documentation

On the Art, Science, Ecology course begun held in the beginning of the 2021 international experts in art and science introduced participants to the points of intersection between art, science and the environmental crisis.

Jana Winderen’s online lecture documentation on IHME’s YouTube channel on her artistic work and IHME commission >>

IHME Helsinki Commission 2020 at Rowing Stadium

The first IHME Helsinki Commission, the site-specific sound installation Listening Through the Dead Zones by the Norwegian artist Jana Winderen will be at the Rowing Stadium in Helsinki.

The Rowing Stadium

Jana Winderen came to Helsinki for her first background-research visit in early August, 2019. On the second day of her visit, she did a boat tour with the water team from the City of Helsinki’s Environment Services. While waiting for the team in Rajasaari, she noticed a deserted-looking white building on the opposite side of the bay. That building, the Rowing Stadium designed by the architect Hilding Ekelund, was built in 1937 for the 1940 Olympic Games, which were postponed until 1952 because of the Second World War. The Stadium has seats facing the sea, which seemed perfect for an artist who wants to draw our attention to life underwater. She went there the next day and made her decision: this would be the venue for the commission.

Hilding Ekelund (1893-1984)

“To serve as a basis for advanced technology and social life we should create architecture in which the main characteristics are natural logics, lightness of construction, a human feel, spiritual sensitivity, and even a sense of humour,” the architect Hilding Ekelund said. He continued: “We must first of all take a look at nature, at its abundance of strictly logical, harmonious elements. We must create room for our constructive imagination, but also restrain it. We must seek inspiration in the properties of different materials and structures, and in their as yet unknown possibilities: We can also learn from our society, climate and national character.”

Riitta Nikula, “Hilding Ekelundin arkkitehtuurista ja ajattelusta.” In Katujen kertomaa. Ragnar ja Hilding Ekelundin maalauksellinen kaupunki. Ed. Susanna Luojus and Itha O’Neill. SKS. 2011.

Rowing Stadium to be the venue for Jana Winderen’s IHME artwork >>

IHME Helsinki Commission 2020 postponed until 2021

The May 4, 2020 decision by the Finnish Government on COVID-19 pandemic restrictions during the summer months affects IHME Helsinki. Following a series of negotiations, a decision has been made to postpone the staging of the sound installation planned by the artist Jana Winderen until August 2021. The commission will be installed as planned to the Rowing Stadium, Helsinki. In postponing IHME Helsinki Commission 2020 until 2021 IHME is seeking not only to ensure that Winderen is able to carry out the work to a high standard, but also to act responsibly and ensure visitor safety.

“My cooperation with IHME and other partners has progressed really well in terms of the background work and technical implementation. However, a significant part of the working process for me – the two-week recording and background-work trip to Helsinki – will not be possible due to travel restrictions. This part of the work is necessary for the completion of the work and requires my presence on site, not to mention tuning the work to suit the Rowing Stadium’s unique architecture and the surrounding sound environment,” says artist Jana Winderen.

IHME Helsinki Commission postponed – Climate work goes on >>

Jana Winderen

IHME’s expert team has chosen the Norwegian artist Jana Winderen to make the first IHME Helsinki Commission in 2020. Winderen is a sound artist who is interested in various sound environments and ecosystems. She explores places in water systems and uses tools for her research that represent the latest technology.

Jana Winderen (b. 1965) has a degree in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, having previously studied mathematics, chemistry and fish ecology at the University of Oslo. Her works frequently take the form of multi-channel sound installations or concerts, but she has also created sound worlds for films, dance works and radio, and published material on CD, vinyl and cassette. Her works have been experienced in art institutions and public spaces in the USA, Europe and Asia. Winderen lives and works in Oslo.

 Jana Winderen to make the first IHME Helsinki Commission in 2020 >>

Example works

Listening with Carp, 2019

Listening with Carp, Now is the Time was composed in Wuzhen, China. In the material that Winderen has recorded we hear the sound produced by the various fish living in canals. The work combines this local sound material with recordings made in the world’s oceans, which has a sound frequency that both carp and humans can hear. The work is on display as part of the Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition March 31–June 30, 2019.  Read more here. 

Through the bones, 2018

For thousands of years, fishermen have been locating fish and other sea creatures in the water by listening through the surface with a wooden oar. This ancient technique has been practised in various communities around the world and, for instance, in Greenland they use oars to detect whale songs. This listening is possible because the sound created by the creatures living under the water is transmitted through the wooden oar and into the human skull, and via the bone directly into the inner ear. Marine mammals and fish use an equivalent listening mechanism.

Jana Winderen found this way of listening on her field trip to Thailand for the Biennale, and has since made several visits to Thailand to learn more about this listening mechanism and about the way that villages that practise sustainable fishing maintain a healthy, viable community by caring for both environment and people. Through the bones combines the mechanics of listening using oars with new technology and hydrophone recording techniques. Visitors to the 2018 Thailand Biennale also had a chance to listen to underwater life through oars in the River Pali under the guidance of local fishermen. Read more here.

Rats – secret soundscapes of the city, 2017

Rat colonies live in mutual coexistence with humans. Some communication between rats is in the ultrasound frequency range – above 20,000 Hz, which is inaudible to the human ear. Jana Winderen wanted to discover whether the stories of rats serenading each other with love songs are true. She recorded the ultrasonic soundscape of Bjørvika in Oslo, which is only detectable at ultrasound frequencies and then slowed and deepened it to create her own composition that is perceptible to human ears. In the research and recordings for the work Winderen employed new technology and collaborated with a researcher at the University of Surrey. In autumn 2017, the multichannel work could be heard on loudspeakers in the urban riverscape around the Akerselva (Aker River) in Oslo. Rats – secret soundscapes of the city was realized in collaboration with the Munchmuseet on the Move 2017 project and the nyMusikk centre for experimental music. Read more here.

More about Jana Winderen’s production and links to published recordings:


Why Jana Winderen?

The Chair of IHME’s expert team, Tuula Arkio, explains the selection of Jana Winderen to make the 2020 IHME commissioned artwork as follows: “Right now, the oceans and glaciers are also in the grip of climate change. Jana Winderen’s art and its underwater sound worlds are a reminer of what will be destroyed if we do nothing.” Also curator Timo Valjakka talks about the value of the oceans: “Life comes from the ocean. The future of life on Earth also relies on the wellbeing of the ocean.”

IHME’s Executive Director Paula Toppila adds: “Jana Winderen’s production combines art’s capacity for envisioning possible worlds, alternative narratives, in what we hear, at the same time as her choice of materials reminds us of the existence, value and vulnerability of other species. In Winderen’s works we are faced with incomprehensible otherness, an untranslated and often vanishing sound world, which we would not get to experience without her. We might call them vanitas works for the age of climate change.”

Professor Hanna Johansson talks about the experimental nature of the works: “Jana Winderen’s art sensitizes my hearing and makes the ocean world present in an amazingly intense way. Everything to do with the oceanic and the aquatic; the thawing, the freezing, the rain, the gurgling, the wetness, the freshness touch me with their sounds alone and make me feel the water as if for the very first time.”

Previous IHME Artists and Projects

2008: Films and video works: Anri Sala, Jeremy Deller, Lauri Astala & Elina and Hanna Brotherus, Runa Islam, Christian Marclay, Deimantas Narkevičius, Francis Alÿs, Matthew Barney

2009: Antony Gormley: Clay and the Collective Body

2010: Susan Philipsz: When Day Closes

2011: Superflex: Modern Times Forever (Stora Enso Building, Helsinki)

2012: Christian Boltanski: The Heart Archive

2013: Miroslaw Balka: Signals

2014: Yael Bartana: True Finn

2015: Jeremy Deller: Do Touch

2016: Kateřina Šedá: Tram Buskers’ Tour

2017: Theaster Gates & The Black Monks of Mississippi: The Black Charismatic

2018: Henrik Håkansson: THE BEETLE

The ten years of IHME Projects have been collected in a book: Art in Public x 10 – IHME 2009 – 2018 available from web book stores.

Find out more about the history and commissions of IHME.

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