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Gallery Kellokas - Forest Talks to Us

The exhibition “Forest Talks to Us” opens up perspectives on the sense of nature and community. The exhibition is based on an experience of a community that includes people and nature. Human and non-human nature are in constant contact, cooperation and dialogue.

Amir Abdi‘s artworks include collaboration with mushrooms. On display is a video “Synastry: Earth and Human”, as well as a Mandala-themed work exhibiting the growth of oyster mushrooms. Maria Huhmarniemi‘s work “Sense of Forest Conflict” deals with the encounter between trees and people and the different interests that are reflected in trees and forests. Katja Juhola‘s installation also comments on the use of forests. The artwork contains excerpts from discussions of local and forest industry representatives about their forest relations and experiences with forest disputes.

The exhibition is based on the International Socially Engaged Art Symposium (ISEAS) 2020 held in Äkäslompolo in August 2020. The 17-member symposium was divided into four teams: mine, forest, powers of nature and a group of documentaries. The teams invited locals for artistic work and discussion. Documentary photographs by Touko Hujanen were captured in the event, and they expressed experiences in the symposium and non-verbal communication between participants, including trees and other surrounding elements of nature.

The artworks offer new perspectives on the concepts of conversation and interaction. These views stem from scientific research on how trees communicate and cooperate with us through subterranean networks of fungi, as well as from the experience of nature’s impact on humans.

The need to increase dialogue and understanding of the cultural backgrounds of environmental conflicts is evident. The artists of this group exhibition aim to apply arts in the mediation of environmental conflicts by listening to and representing the various voices of stakeholders, including non-human nature and local cultures, in Äkäslompolo. Ecoculture and forest culture are some key concepts in the exhibition. Art historian Lucy Lippard describes the essence of culture as follows:

Culture is usually understood to be what defines place and its meaning to people. But place equally defines culture (Lippard, 1997, p. 15).. (Lippard, 1997, The Lure of the Local, p. 15)
Following Lippard’s idea, we state that forest defines our cultures; what we do for the forest, we do to ourselves.

The exhibition is part of the project Acting on the Margin: Arts as Social Sculpture (AMASS) at the University of Lapland. The project studies how arts can move people, educate societies, question widely accepted narratives, and launch new perspectives for the future. Maria Huhmarniemi, who works for the AMSS project, is the curator of the exhibition.

The AMASS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 870621.

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