ABOAGORA Pre-symposium IV: Burning Questions 

16–17 August 2021

Archipelago Centre Korpoström, Turku archipelago, Finland

The 2021 ABOAGORA Pre-symposium invited Doctoral Candidates in the arts, humanities, and sciences and MA Art Students to gather around burning questions of the world on fire today.

The Pre-symposium was structured around talks, walks and workshops addressing the impacts of global warming on the Archipelago Sea Biosphere area, its marine ecosystem and cultural contexts. Through the prism offered by the site itself, a plurality of perspectives, and multisensory approaches, the participants discussed a range of ecological and societal phenomena, such as heat waves, migrations, photosynthesis, metabolism, combustion, and composting.

Pre-symposium participants presenting their work at the ABOAGORA 2021 main event “Fire”. Photo: Pekko Vasantola.

The aim was to reflect also on what fuels our journeys, research, and conversations. How to draw together diverse knowledge, skills and wisdom needed to feed the flame of sustainable transformations? What kinds of narratives for alternative futures might arise out of the ashes of past fires? What might be the fires needed as sign posts and beacons for a safe route?

The Pre-symposium offered a momentary pause in habitual patterns and processes of practice. It implied also retreat from the conventions of boundary-making between disciplines and epistemologies, in order to nurture an ecology of practices attentive to the multispecies communities affected by the raging fires – literal and metaphorical – in the present.


The Pre-symposium research retreat was directed by curator and researcher Taru Elfving (CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago) and organised in collaboration with the Archipelago Centre Korpoström. The programme included presentations and workshops that offered scientific and artistic insights into the Archipelago Sea area. These formed a shared ground for discussions as well as embedded observations in the environment. The selected participants were also invited to contribute their own burning questions to the programme.

The participants discussed their work in a joint panel session on August 19, 2021 at the ABOAGORA Symposium at the Sibelius Museum in Turku.