Fire, if uncontrolled, can rapidly cause massive destruction and devastation. On the other hand, even disastrous wildfires can leave behind better conditions for new life and, when carefully harnessed, fire provides warmth, power, and a useful instrument for numerous purposes. The control of fire radically changed the course of human evolution hundreds of thousands of years ago, but to this day we have not been able to master it completely. Fire has a dual nature in a figurative sense as well. In terms of personality traits and emotions, it can be equated with inspiration, zeal, and fervor, but also rage and fanaticism.

ABOAGORA 2021 brought together viewpoints from social sciences, cultural studies, natural sciences, literature, music, and visual and performance arts to explore fire as both a literal and a metaphorical element.

For descriptions of the talks and performances, see the ABOAGORA 2021 Programme Booklet

Recordings of the open AGORA sessions will be published on our YouTube channel during the fall.



10:30–11:15 Coffee and Registration


Opening Remarks: Vesa Taatila (Rector and President, Turku University of Applied Sciences)


AGORA | Homo Sapiens on the Earth 

Rosa Liksom

12:30–14:00 Lunch break


“Sun, the Electric Fire of all Life” – The Sun and Fire in the Culture of Esotericism

Introduction: Maarit Leskelä-Kärki

Panel: Marja Lahelma (chair), Nina Kokkinen, Tiina Mahlamäki, Susanna Välimäki & Jasmine Westerlund

Guitar: Patrik Kleemola

Eurythmy: Pirkko Tolmunen


Sparking Trams, Silenced Rails: A Journey through European Tramscapes

Introduction: Silja Laine

Speakers: Jason Finch, Aleksandra Ianchenko, Silja Laine & Tonio Weicker


AGORA | D/other

Astrid Swan & Hanna Meretoja

Organised together with SELMA: Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory



The Use of Fire

Cornelius Colliander, Kristina Mediucha & Johan Werkelin

11:00–12:30 Lunch break


Burning Questions

Taru Elfving (chair)Riikka Armanto, Sachin Kochrekar, Ulla Kommonen, Kirsikka Paakkinen, Camila Rosa RibeiroLaura M. Saari, Jenni Vauhkonen & Yoshimasa Yamada


A Burning Heart – A Broken Heart

Antonia Ringbom & Cecilia Sahlgren

15:00–15:30 Coffee


AGORA | Finding Fire: A Radical Pedagogy that Combines Legal Education, Design and Law

Jules Rochielle Sievert


Copenhagen A play by Michael Frayn

Staged reading performed by Richard McElvain, M. Lynda Robinson & Kimi Kärki



AGORA | Fire Thinking, Fire Beings, and the End of the World as We Know It

David Bowman

11:00–12:30 Lunch break


Photo Exhibition: Love Crossing Boundaries & Panel Discussion: The Fire of Love and Hate

Artists: Rewan Kakil & Saara Aina

Panel: Nana Blomqvist (chair), Hannaneh Mahmoudian & Tuija Saresma

Organised in collaboration with Hub Turku.


The Conflagration of Turku, 1827: Histories of Emotion and Destruction

Hannu Salmi & Panu Savolainen


On Fire

Alessa Brossmer

16:00–16:45 Coffee



E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr


Closing Reception 

Fire Performance by Pino Kollektiivi

Closing Remarks: Joanna Kurth (Project Director at The Museum Center of Turku)



Multiarts Group Third Space (Kolmas Tila)

ABOAGORA 2021 continued the five-year thematic plan (2019–2023) The Five Rings. The title refers to the book The Book of Five Rings, written in 1645, by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584–June 13, 1645). He was a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, writer and rōnin – a samurai without a master. Musashi became renowned through stories of his masterful double-bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in his 61 duels. Many consider him the greatest swordsman that ever lived. Near the end of his life, Musashi retreated to live as a hermit in a cave, to meditate and write a manual of kenjutsu, Japanese swordmanship, and martial arts. This practical book extends towards a philosophy of life, aiming at simplicity and no-nonsense. Throughout the years, it has also been read by people rethinking ways to lead or do business. The Book of Five Rings (五輪書, Go Rin no Sho) is divided into five books, each examining a different element of battle, just as there are different physical elements in life in Eastern religions. The five Aboagora symposia of 2019–2023 delve into these elements: Earth (2019), Water (2020), Fire (2021), Wind (2022), and Void (2023).

ABOAGORA is supported by the Kone FoundationThe Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and the William Thuring Foundation.

In 2021, Turku celebrates the tenth anniversary of the city’s year as the European Capital of Culture. ABOAGORA: “Fire” is part of the anniversary programme.

Cover photo: Pekko Vasantola, graphic design by Frida Backman