Art, Science, Ecology Course – 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.

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?

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.

  • 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.
  • 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”.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Finland-resident workshop leaders – Antti Majava, Samir Bhowmik and Paula Toppila – will run the workshops as contact teaching, if government and the universities’ COVID-19 policies permit. At most 20 students, ten from the Academy of Fine Arts and ten registered and selected through HELSUS will be accepted for the course in the order of registration. From the University of Helsinki, we can admit 5 students studying at faculties in the City Centre campus and 5 jointly from the faculties at the Viikki, Kumpula and Meilahti campuses.

Scope of the course

5 credits.

Course language

The course will be organized in English.

Course evaluation


Teachers in charge

Janna Pietikäinen, Mikko Saikku, Sirpa Tani / HELSUS

Additional information

More information on the course on the IHME HELSINKI website.

registration for university of helsinki students

Registration is closed.