Pre-symposium VI, 2023

ABOAGORA Pre-symposium VI: Edges of Knowing

20–22 August 2023

Island of Seili, Turku archipelago, Finland

Retreat participants presenting their work at the ABOAGORA 2023 main event “Void”. Photo: Pekko Vasantola.

The ABOAGORA Pre-symposium VI: Edges of Knowing invited Doctoral Researchers in the arts, humanities, and sciences and MA Arts Students to reflect together on what haunts the systems of knowledge and the limits of the thinkable at this time of omnicrisis, uncertainty and change.

The Pre-symposium was structured around talks and walks addressing various kinds of voids – ecological and societal, empirical, imaginary, and institutional – in their many interconnections. Through the prism offered by the changing ecology of the Archipelago Sea and the dense history of the island of Seili, a plurality of perspectives and multisensory approaches, the participants discussed a range of questions related to the topic of void, such as: How to address the hauntings in the landscape or on the maps, in the archive or data sets, which gesture towards something that has been omitted or erased, or simply has gone unnoticed and unnamed? How to attune to and approach these signals and signs of “nothingness” with a sense of urgency and curiosity, yet without hastily presuming access and opportunistically extracting from or filling the perceived void in a colonial manner?

The aim of the Pre-symposium was to delve together into the voids hovering at the edges of knowing and bridge the gaps between disciplinary boundaries in the sciences and the arts. The island of Seili with its complex history of institutions of care and control – from the leprosy colony and mental asylum for women to the current environmental research, nature conservation, and tourism development – was also allowed to choreograph the discussions.

The Pre-symposium research retreat was directed by curator and researcher Taru Elfving (CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago). The participants discussed their work in a joint panel session on August 24 at the ABOAGORA: “Void” Symposium at the Sibelius Museum in Turku.