Advisory Board

IHME Helsinki's Advisory Board on September 2019 (from left) Ute Meta Bauer, Antti Majava, Hanna Johansson, Paula Toppila (chair). Advisory Board also features Jussi Parikka. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro.

IHME Helsinki advisory board, starting June 10, 2019

Ute Meta Bauer

Curator, Professor

Ute Meta Bauer is a curator of exhibitions. Since October 2013 she serves as founding director of the CCA – Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore — a research center of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where she is professor at ADM, NTU’s School of Art, Media and Design. From 2012–2013 she was Professor and Dean of the School of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, London. Prior to that appointment she was Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, where she served as the Founding Director of ACT, the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (2009–2012) and as Director of the MIT Visual Arts Program (2005–2009) at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. She was a professor (1996 – 2006) at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria, heading the Institute of Cultural Studies and serving as Vice Rector for International Relations. During her tenure as Founding Director of the Office for Contemporary Art (OCA) in Oslo, Norway (2002-2005). She has curated exhibitions for the major contemporary art biennales and event. She has also edited and published variety of articles and publications in the field of contemporary art. Ute Meta Bauer has been a member of IHME’s expert team since fall 2018.

Hanna Johansson

Ph.D., Professor of Contemporary Art Research, Academy of Fine Arts

Art historian and docent Hanna Johansson works as Professor of Contemporary Art Research at the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts in Helsinki. She has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts (2007-2009), as a researcher at the University of Helsinki (2000-2005) and at the Finnish National Gallery’s Central Art Archive (1998-1999). Johansson has lectured widely at universities and art schools. She has also worked as a curator and written art criticism for numerous publications. Contemporary art, its nature aspect and theoretical concepts are the most central areas of Johansson’s research. She has an extensive publication record on Finnish and international contemporary art.

Antti Majava

Artist, Ph.D. candidate

The visual artist and researcher at the BIOS Research Unit Antti Majava has brought in his work together experts and viewpoints stemming from science, arts, and other fields. He is the founding member of the Mustarinda Association, and through it has created a platform for experimentation in artistic and everyday practices which take into account the material underpinnings of society. In his doctoral thesis, which employs socio-ecological methods, he studies the effects of nature, society and science on the development of artistic phenomena, and correspondingly, the role of art in socio-ecological and scientific breakthroughs. In the research unit his role has been to look at forests and bioeconomy, and to develop ways of collaboration with representatives of the media and art worlds. His texts have been published both in scientific and popular journals; alongside writing, he continues his visual artistic work.

Jussi Parikka

Ph.D., Professor

Dr Jussi Parikka is Professor at the Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton) and Docent of Digital Culture Theory at the University of Turku. In addition, he is a Visiting Scholar at FAMU in Prague. His various books have addressed a wide range of topics relevant to a critical understanding of network culture, aesthetics and media archaeology of contemporary society. The books include the media ecology-trilogy Digital Contagions (2007, 2nd. ed 2016), the award-winning Insect Media (2010) and most recently, A Geology of Media (2015), which addresses the environmental contexts of technical media culture.

Paula Toppila

Executive Director, Curator

Paula Toppila is the Executive Director and curator of Pro Arte Foundation and IHME Contemporary Art Festival since 2007. During her directorship the Festival has produced new commissions in public space in collaboration with artists Antony Gormley, Susan Philipsz, Superflex,  Miroslaw Balka, Yael Bartana, Jeremy Deller, Kateřina Šedá, Theaster Gates and The Black Monks of Mississippi and Henrik Håkansson. With Christan Boltanski IHME continued the on-going project Heart Archive in libraries of four cities in Finland. Toppila worked as curator at Frame Finnish Fund for Art Exchange 1998-2007 and is curator of several Finnish and international exhibitions both in Finland and abroad e.g. Finnish representation of Sao Paulo Biennial in 2001 and The Fourth Pirkanmaa Triennial in Tampere, Finland in 2009. She has co-curated e.g. Momentum – The Nordic Biennial in Moss, Norway in 2000. She has contributed to Siksi, Taide, Flash Art and Framework magazines. She has a Master of Arts Degree in Art History. She participated in Curatorial Training Programme of De Appel Foundation in Amsterdam 1997-98 and Business College Helsinki´s  vocational studies in leadership and management 2018-2020.

 


Interview : JUSSI PARIKKA

1.Art and science: What is the most topical question in the realm of contemporary art today from your perspective?

It has to be “the environment”, but not just in the sense of nature. It has to speak to political ecologies and planetary-scale feedback loops. It has to include the way data and automated calculation patterns, or “AI”, are changing forms and scales of knowledge creation. Art and science collaborations have, in many contexts, and for a longer period, become a playground for artists testing corporate tools to make beautiful things, but I am more interested in ways in which art and aesthetic insights become ways to frame also epistemologically meaningful and politically significant projects. Here, art and science actually means a bundling of multiple methods and approaches: art, data culture, architecture, landscape studies, environmental sciences, investigation of territorial impact of industrialisation, etc. One term for this could be: media(ted) ecologies.

2.Sustainable art practice: IHME is placing emphasis on studying how art institutions could become carbon-neutral. Do you see other institutions taking this approach elsewhere?

Some yes, but slowly. We just saw – finally –  Hans Ulrich Obrist announce that “ecology will be at the heart of everything we do”, referring to Serpentine Galleries. Good. But an actual infrastructural plan – and that includes ways of thinking about curatorial models, people and their activities, and many other indirectly related things – needs to be in place across the arts sector, as well as the academia. But yes, there is a lot of emerging attention and we can provide great ideas for “best practices”. The focus on energy and carbon neutrality needs to be more than symbolic. We should not only showcase art that is “worried” about the environmental situation; we need inventive and original plans that can take root in the world. And not just on individual level – I am more interested in collective institutional change: from large Biennales of the world to conferences.

3.Climate change mitigation/adaptation: What role do you think arts can play here?

The two dangers for the arts are: art projects are reduced to being a purely symbolic “raising awareness” type of thing; or, art is expected to provide solutions for planetary-scale issues (a danger that was part of early art and science discourse too, and which in many cases is too naïve). Arts should not be romantically celebrated – as if they were always automatically something rebellious – but they can be harnessed as a critical societally significant mode of action. Art can demonstrate how to work across scales, and through art and interdisciplinary projects, participate in the wider ecology of radical political shifts.

4.Please, share your local reflection on these questions in London/Prague:

Part of my life is in the UK, part in Prague but, put briefly, what I am worried about is the recent election which continued the rule of the Conservative party. Their environmental policy track record is disastrous. Also across Europe and in many other countries I am worried about the link between nationalist politics, sometimes even white supremacy, and lack of significant environmentally meaningful policies, for example in terms of biodiversity or energy policy measures. And as Ash Sarkar, a great British political commentator, put it: the culture wars now include also climate with “angry white men having declared a war on the planet”.

https://www.huckmag.com/perspectives/opinion-perspectives/angry-white-men-have-declared-war-on-the-planet-again/


Interview: HANNA JOHANSSON

1. Art and science: What is the most topical question in the realm of contemporary art today from your perspective?

At the moment I think that art has two especially important topics or missions. On the one hand, art´s role in today´s damaged and dramatically changed and changing world is to create meaning for both artists as well as for the audience. This can take various forms that might consist of participatory elements but also might just be representation or events. In that sense you can´t say that this kind of art is important, and that another kind of art is not important, because it depends on how it happens, takes place and occurs. On the other hand, contemporary art should challenge the lifestyle that we are more or less forced to live, and to constitute – if only temporarily – other kinds of lifestyle alternatives or life systems. This might mean different kinds of economic systems but also food and residential systems, etc. Why science is so often an important partner in art is based on the fact that artists want to deal with the topics that resonate with their own experience and reality, and today, because we really are experiencing the ruination of the planet/habitable environment, artists fee they need science to expand their understanding of things. The potentiality of art and science collaborations lies in a mixture or combination of subversive dissidence and rigorous knowledge.

2. Sustainable art practice: IHME is placing emphasis on studying and practicing how art institutions could become carbon neutral. Do you see other institutions taking this approach elsewhere?

Yes, many institutions seem to be acting and reorganizing their principles. I actually think that art institutions have woken up quite late considering the fact that they are cultural institutions whose main role is to interpret the world and also to act according to their interpretations. But of course, it´s really good that it has finally started to happen:better later than never. I think that institutions should act, if possible, even more radically and challenge their modus operandi even more deeply than what they have done so far.

3.Climate change mitigation/adaptation: what role do you think arts can play here?

Art can rarely directly change regulations or laws, but it can change our relationship with reality (mental, social and ecological), and challenge the norms of reality we want too live in, and make us aware of what kind of reality we want to respect. Art can also give us hope and, what is even more important, it can increase our sense of meaningfulness and sensibility. From this perspective I think art has huge potential in our adaptation to climate change. However, we have to remember that art is not representing something directly and giving so-called “answers”, since it always consists of elements that are not understandable, or that are obscure.

4. Please, share your local reflection on these questions in Finland.

Perhaps I could add the obvious fact that this non-existing winter we have expereinced in Southern Finland this year gives us much to think about and to react to. It might also chnagemany factors in the local art world.


Interview: ANTTI MAJAVA

1.Art and science: What is the most topical question in the realm of contemporary art today from your perspective?

For me, as an artist and a researcher, it is: What it is going on here? I see this question more from the perspective of fundamental research than from applied sciences. In my PhD project (in Multidisciplinary Environmental Sciences) I am studying the roots of the modernist avantgarde, sciences, political and spiritual movements and technology. There is often a very strong division between the scholars and practitioners who have tried to apply art and science in their reach for ideologically based utopian models for human life, and those who have used their skills for finding out who and where we are, and what this all is.

The first group is inspired by the technological and energetic capabilities for altering nature, conquesting the space and, for example, solving the mystery of death. The latter would usually just like to enjoy their life as part of the natural and cosmic system, and are inspired by knowing more, and are putting their effort into balanced social development, welfare and arts.

I think that, in ecological terms, humanity is struggling between quite fundamentally opposite world views and attitudes towards nature, knowledge and culture. Ecologically it is very clear that we need to abandon destructive technoutopian ideals and learn to enjoy our lives as intelligent partakers of organic and cosmic processes.

2. Sustainable art practice: IHME is placing emphasis on studying how art institutions could become carbonneutral. Do you see other institutions taking this approach elsewhere?

The conversation about ecological transitions has spread all over the world. But the needed scale and speed of the transformation seems to be unclear for most organizations. We can’t just ecologize our business as usual. Instead, we need to transform our basic activities and operational logic. This doesn’t mean that we should weaken the quality of art, quite the contrary. Consumerism keeps us busy with all sorts of unnecessary hustle. Reducing that noise gives more time for artistic work and quality.

New kinds of multidisciplinary artistic and organizational knowledge are desperately needed for updating the art field and keeping art traditions rt alive and thriving amid this vast change.

3.Climate change mitigation/adaptation: what role do you think arts can play here?

Art-loving and practice are in their very essence un- (or anti-) consumerist activities. This quality should be strengthened instead of seeing art as just another consumer good.

4.Please, share you local reflections on these questions here in Finland.

Well, Finland is doing okay in some areas of sustainability, but more generally, we are just as destructive as all the others in terms of having the same level of per capita consumption. Traditionally, my grandparents generation has had a much less consumeristic lifestyle and ideals. The consumer identity is actually a very thin, recent cultural layer that has been added here as it has in many other countries.

Actually, hardly anyone thinks of themselves as just consumers. It is just an abstraction extracted from neoclassical economic´s theory classes. Instead of forcing our cultural and natural systems to follow this failed abstraction we should fit our economy and culture into the planet’s finite organic framework.


Interview: PAULA TOPPILA

1.Art and science: What is the most topical question in the realm of contemporary art today from your perspective?

In the context of IHME we are trying to answer the question: How are we to exist as a high-quality contemporary art commissioning agency, and how are we to collaborate internationally and create relevant discourse and meaning in the age of climate crisis and biodiversity loss? Perhaps all art institutions should ask themselves the same question and even further: what are the things that needs to change, what kind of transformation we should be creating? As far as freedom of art is concerned, artists should have the freedom to do what they find meaningful, but this should happen within limits of life-sustaining systems – this is the first of our new values at IHME. And if we are commissioners of art as IHME is, we should offer artists sustainable solutions for making art happen, take place or materialize. This means re-thinking the ways we make art happen, with whom we make art happen, and how do we use the funds we have. For us this year is a year of testing out if there are serious alternatives that will make it possible to establish carbon-free art institutional practice and finding out what this takes. This means not relying on ecological compensations only but re-considering and re-organising both artistic and institutional practices.

2.Sustainable art practice: IHME is placing emphasis on studying how art institutions could become carbonneutral. Do you see signs of other institutions taking this approach?

We are happy to see that targets are being set and change is happening, gradually, in Helsinki, in Finland and in the EU. The University of Helsinki is compensating the travels of their staff members, withdrawing from fossil fuelrelated investments by 2020 and promoting discussion and action on ecological solutions for the food served at student restaurants. The small commune of Ii is already carbon neutal, City of Lahti has adopted the ambitious target of reaching carbon-neutrality by 2025 and Helsinki by 2035. We appreciate efforts made in Helsinki´s marketing department to promote and share models for carbon-neutral production of cultural events in Helsinki.We are also happy that three art institutions Frame, HIAP and Mustarinda will join us in our journey to become carbon-neutral and will hire our part-time eco-coordinator Saara Korpela. She is calculating our carbon footprint and finding eco-friendly solutions for art productions. Now Saara will have a fulltime position for a year. There are also signs that the museum field is also taking action to adopt a more profound understanding of sustainability as an institutional practice. We are also sharing everything we learn to all institutions interested through Saara´s Ecoblog on our website.

3.Climate change mitigation/adaptation: what role do you think art can play here?

IHME supports art, science and climate crisis mitigation and adaptation. In order to do this we need plenty of knowledge from different fields of science and research: the climate crisis is affecting every field of human life, but also the life of other species, flora and fauna. We also need knowledge-based action in order to maintain hope. This is why we include science among our main field of interests along with the more inherent knowledge of contemporary art and artistic practices in our organisation. I think art has an important role, because with art we can imagine narratives of hope, explore possibilities, and envision the kind of society we want to create together. According to a survey made at the Stockholm Resilience Center, another advantage of involving art in climate crisis mitigation and adaptation is that it is not constrained by standard scientific methods and can more easily involve not just artists and scientists, but also citizens and many different types of change agents. As such, the arts can also challenge things that tend to be taken for granted in an engaging and creative way. This can lead to new ways of perceiving, understanding and acting upon climate crisis.


IHME Expert Team until June 10, 2019

Tuula Arkio

Museum Director Emerita, Doctor of Visual Arts h.c.

 

Ute Meta Bauer

Curator, Professor

 

Leevi Haapala

Ph.D., Museum Director at Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma

 

Hanna Johansson

Ph.D., Professor of Contemporary Art Research, Academy of Fine Arts

 

Paula Toppila

Executive Director, Curator

 

Timo Valjakka

Curator, Critic