Pre-Symposium III, 2020

ABOAGORA Pre-Symposium III: Water

17–18 August 2020

Seili, Turku archipelago, Finland

ABOAGORA – Between Arts and Sciences invited Doctoral Candidates and Art students to investigate the shifting borders of water and land in the Pre-Symposium event in the Turku archipelago. The theme of ABOAGORA in 2020 was Water, while the Pre-Symposium focused on the significance of place in research and artistic practices. What are the different senses of place in the work of a researcher or an artist? What do we bring with us, take away and leave behind? How are our practices making their mark on the environment, and how does the environment affect our practices?

ABOAGORA Pre-symposium 2020 on the island of Seili. Photo: Jannica Grönroos

Water carries with it ongoing natural and cultural histories of journeys, discoveries and invasions. Yet it also holds promise in a world that was never fixed in the first place. The lands on the coasts of Finland are rising, gradually, as they have done since the release of the weight of ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. Half a centimetre a year in the Archipelago Sea, half a metre in a century. Will the seas rise as fast due to the melting glaciers in the future and eventually catch up with the shifting shorelines here?

The Baltic Sea can be seen as an indicator of things to come, a transitional zone where both planetary and local environmental transformations have a rapid observable impact. The Archipelago Research Institute of Turku University, on the island of Seili in the Archipelago Sea, has for decades been gathering data on the changing salinity levels, among other factors. This is the place to slow down and ponder upon these questions, empirically and imaginatively, even in the face of a global emergency.

The Aboagora Pre-Symposium 2020

ABOAGORA invited Doctoral Candidates and Art students to a research retreat directed by curator and researcher Taru Elfving (CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago) and organised in collaboration with the Archipelago Research Institute of Turku on the island of Seili, a 2-hour boat ride from Turku in the Archipelago Sea. 

The Pre-Symposium offered a momentary pause in habitual patterns and processes of practice. This opened up other modes of engagement and sensibilities critically situated in relation to the specific ecosystem and history of the Turku Archipelago. Furthermore, it implied retreat from the conventions of boundary-making between disciplines and epistemologies, in order to nurture an ecology of practices.

Pre-symposium participants presenting their work at ABOAGORA “Water”. Photo: Pekko Vasantola.

The programme included presentations, walks and fieldwork led by professor emeritus Ilppo Vuorinen, professor Anna Törnroos-Remes, filmmaker Lotta Petronella, and Taru Elfving. The Pre-Symposium participants presented their individual research projects and collective enquiries at the symposium ABOAGORA 2020: “Water” in their workshop titled “Sense(s) of Seili” on August 20.

You can read participants’ reflections on the 2020 Pre-symposium on the websites of CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago (Selina Oakes) and the research project PUTSPACE (Aleksandra Ianchenko).

The Pre-Symposium was organised in collaboration with the multidisciplinary Strategic Research Area Havet/Meri (The Sea) of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, the Archipelago Research Institute, and Contemporary Art Archipelago (CAA). 

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