Earth, trees and cultural change


In ancient Finnish mythology, earth is conceptualised as a female figure who provides a foundation for life and gives nourishment and support for trees that grow their roots into the earth. According to myths, Big Oak, the world tree, stood at the beginning of time and had to be cut down before the world was ready and history could begin. Moreover, in Finnish folk traditions, in addition to oak, rowan was considered a holy tree, and this affected how it was used and cared for. These are a few examples of how the earth and trees are used as metaphors of time and history. Besides such metaphorical usage, history exists very tangibly in the earth and forests. In the earth, time unfolds as long processes of rock formation and sedimentation of soils, while trees grow annual rings and reach for the sky.

In this session, we examine the concrete historicity of earth and forests, and how their temporal changes have affected human histories in the north. We engage with the earth and the vegetative life it supports with the diverse tools that scholars and artists have at their disposal. We discuss the ways in which humans have interacted with different features of soils and rock and species of trees. For instance, why did medieval wood carvers choose certain types of wood as their material? Did the meanings given to the species affect the carvers’ decisions, or were they a matter of availability, trade networks, and variations in how carvable different types of wood are?

In our session, we emphasise the structured but changing and diverse essence of earth and trees. Their material characteristics determine certain ways in which humans can connect with nature and create meanings for earth and wood. We discuss how this interaction has developed historically.

Presenters: Maija Helasvuo (Sculptor), Visa Immonen (Professor of Archaeology, University of Turku), Jussi Kinnunen (Doctoral Candidate, University of Turku, archaeology and geology), Mia Lempiäinen-Avci (Project Researcher, University of Turku, archaeology and biodiversity) Ilkka Leskelä (University of Helsinki and The Finnish Literature Society) and Katri Vuola (University of Helsinki and The Finnish Literature Society)


“The Romantic Mind”

“The Romantic Mind” is the theatre group Third Space’s upcoming production, premiering in 2020. The planning of the production started in May 2019 with a performers workshop and a seminar on different aspects of the Romantic Era. The performance at Aboagora was created based on material from the workshop, and it works as an introductory piece to the people and themes of The Romantic Mind. The Romantic Mind studies the parallels between the early Romantic Era way of thinking and our modern times and is a critical assessment of the human mind and humanity. The piece deals with polyphony as a musical, ethical, political and dramaturgic concept. The piece takes place in Turku in the years 1799–1827, a time before the city was destroyed by the fire in 1827. The music and sound design will play an important role in the production. The music is composed by Ulf Långbacka and Kari Mäkiranta, and the sound designer is Ville Aalto . The piece is a cooperation between Third Space and two choirs, Brahe Djäknar and Florakören, from Turku.

The actors Timo Torikka  and Kristina Vahvaselkä will perform during Aboagora, alongside the sound designer Ville Aalto and composer and musician Kari Mäkiranta. The piece will be introduced by playwright and dramatiser Seppo Parkkinen.

Third Space is a multiarts and theatre group that was founded in Turku in 2007, and it has been collaborating with Turku’s two universities since its founding. Third Space strives to create a genuine interaction and dialogue between science and art, vis-a-vis the audience. Theatre is their primary medium, influenced by deep scientific collaboration with scientists from a variety of different fields, making them truly unique in Finland. Audience events such as exhibitions and open theatrical workshops also form part of their activity, often connected to the theatre performances themselves.



Heaven and Earth. Religion and gardening


The growing of food has been a major sphere of human life since the first humans became sedentary. No wonder that themes connected to gardening and agriculture occupy an important place in the religious traditions of the world. In this workshop we will discuss some of the ways religion and gardening have been connected throughout history, but also how some contemporary religious communities choose to focus on gardening as a way of making a change in the world.

Presenters: Lena Roos (Professor of Study of Religion, Söderntörn University) and Maud Marion Laird Eriksen (organic gardener, PhD, Lecturer in Ethics, Uppsala University)


Presentations from the Aboagora Pre-Symposium


In the spring 2019 Aboagora invited doctoral candidates and art students to discuss and develop ideas about the earth – its past, present and future. What kinds of views are there in the history of the earth and between earth and humans? What are our hopes and dreams for the future of the earth – or our worst fears? Aboagora Pre-Symposium event on 19th to 20th August combines presentation training, a lecture and discussion on ethics for artists and scientists, and a visualization workshop. The aim is to explore connections between the arts, sciences, and academic thinking, and to learn engaging ways to present scientific and artistic work and knowledge. Pre-Symposium participants will present their work in Aboagora as well.

Presenters: Xinquan Wen: How to transform the potential conflict relationships between minor food production constitutions into collaborative ones?; Sonja Salomäki: The affecting features of climate art activism; Alessa Brossmer: Polar stations – architecture and research in terrestrial climatic zones of the extreme as precursor model for populating space – Focus: Eden ISS; Anna Lehtonen & Tanja Parantainen: Creative pathways through eco-anxiety to hope – Playback theatre and drama as methods; Jimena Bigá: Collaborative efforts between audience and science. When the interpretation of the past can acquire signification through artistic expressions; Kaisa Vaittinen: Personal and Conflicting Ideas on Vast Space – The Sahara in Two Finnish Travelogues; Laura Wickström: Conceptual frameworks of Islamic perspectives on nature and the earth; Teemu Lehmusruusu: Trophic Verses – Soil life and artistic research; Kristiina Koskinen: Aesthetics of decay;  Siiri Pyykkönen: Landscape as property: power, rights and relations in urban landscapes 

More information on Aboagora Pre-Symposium and participants here!


CONCERT: Fern Orchestra: “Vox Herbārium – Plant Series”

Herbarium aims for a collection that retains samples of plants for taxonomic classification. How do plants sound when they are touched? Information transmitted by the sensors attached to the plants is converted to sound. Vox Herbārium verifies the senses of the plants by collecting the information they transmit and transforming it into a stage-like form where the dancer´s kinaesthetic intelligence is combined with the song of plants. The Audio Herbarium provides an audible and visible observation surface that will not be obtained from dried and flattened plants. Do we dare to reach out to the fifth dimension, which we do not yet understand, where time and space are overcome by a connection that may be small and snuggled?

Fern Orchestra is a bilingual, multifaceted multi-art group that has studied subjects such as photosynthesis, closed biosphere, and the senses of plants in their works. Plants and micro-organisms operate as the orchestra’s instruments, while the works include performance art, contemporary dance, publications, and light art. Works of Fern Orchestra highlight the relationship between humans, light, and nature.


FRIDAY 23.8.

“Earth, Place and Rootedness in Migrants’ Lives and Deaths”

Narratives of migration often use images of earth and soil to convey complex negotiations of identity, belonging, and being ‘in place’. Forced migration and encounters with death raise further questions about people’s connections and relationships with old and new landscapes. Academic migration studies, too, have long relied on (and debated) environmental imagery to re/imagine the experiences and meanings of migrant life. This session examines earthiness and rootedness in various life writings of Finnish, Karelian, and Ingrian migrants. Historical, folkloric, and cultural memory research will merge and interact with readings of poetry, letters, and memoirs to evoke the emotive power of what is lost and found as the very earth shifts under migrants’ feet.

Presenters: Samira Saramo (Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, John Morton Center for North American Research, Univesity of Turku), Nancy Mattson (Writer and Poet) and Ulla Savolainen (Academy of Finland Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki)


Raimo Saarinen: “Soil as sculpture material and subject


Sculptor Raimo Saarinen has been using soil materials as part of and the main body for sculptures for over seven years. His practice draws on the western concept of nature and its layered and complex relationship with western culture. Soil is so fundamental in all the actions that made it possible for humankind to raise itself above other life forms but, at the same time, it is also the most undervalued material and often not even considered when speaking of nature.

People do not usually spare even a thought for underground ecosystems or consider their role in supporting and maintaining life on the planet. Saarinen’s intentions have been to raise soil from a material that has been used by sculptors for centuries to the subject of a sculpture, from being material to representing something from a human perspective.


CONCERT: E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr: Erde


E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr was founded in spring 2008. They revive sounds and visions of the golden era of 1970s German electronic and experimental rock but create a sound of their own, inspired by various genres of electronic music such as the Berlin school, ambient, space music, progressive rock, etc. The members are Pertti Grönholm (synthesisers, sequencers and rhythm machines), Kimi Kärki (guitars and effects, synthesisers) and Ismo Virta (Memotron, guitars and effects, synthesisers). E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr has played live at various venues including museums, rock clubs and festivals, outdoor happenings and libraries.

The band is currently releasing on Svart Records (FIN), Sea State (GER) and Adansonia Records (GER). The releases include studio LPs Kometenbahn (Svart Records 2013) and Spiralo (Svart Records 2014), Der Planet der Melancholie MC (Sea State 2014), Jenseits der Mauer des Schlafes Split LP (Svart Records 2015), Tonwald MC (Sea State 2016), Live at Roadburn 2014 2LP (Adansonia Records 2016) and Live at the Sibelius Museum CDR (Lux Vitae 2010).

At Aboagora 2019 they will offer the first of five thematic annual compositions: ‘Erde’, featuring Lubena Nova (vocals) & Vesa Nova (didgeridoo).