AISTIT / coming to our senses sets its course in an evolving one-year programme of exhibitions and performances in five European cities to explore the complexity and wonder of our sensorial perceptions and how they shape us as human beings.
The Finnish Institutes in the Benelux, France, Germany, and the UK and Ireland are proud to invite visual artist Hans Rosenström and curator and choreographer Satu Herrala to reflect on the topic of ‘senses’ (‘aistit’ in Finnish) and their physical, political and technological dimensions today. Bringing together multiple visual and performing artists working across different geographical locations, A I S T I T / coming to our senses unfolds a fragile world that is interconnected and full of nuances.
A I S T I T / coming to our senses gradually unfolds from March 2021 to mid-2022 in Paris, London, Berlin, Helsinki, and Ghent. Newly commissioned artworks, as well as adaptations of existing works, will be shown in each city by artists whose practices are grounded in the sensorial and whose works nurture a mindful relationship with the world. The multifaceted programme, composed of a series of exhibitions, public artworks, performances, screenings and a catalogue publication, will be presented in collaboration with local art institutions and festivals. In 2021, with social distancing measures continuing globally, all the exhibition spaces (including public outdoor spaces) will comply with government regulations and guidance.
The first chapter of A I S T I T / coming to our senses launches in France on March 28th, both in Paris and the neighbouring village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne. The first of the two exhibitions, When our eyes touch, will open in the most intimate of locations; Maison Louis Carré in the village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, 40 km south-west of Paris. On view until June 13th 2021, the modernist villa designed by Finnish architects Alvar and Elissa Aalto, will host a myriad of works by artists Etel Adnan, Axel Antas, Simone Fattal, Terike Haapoja, Anna Maria Häkkinen, Kapwani Kiwanga, Maija Mustonen, Laure Prouvost, and Hans Rosenström.
A simultaneous exhibition will take place in the gallery of Institut finlandais (the Finnish Institute in France) from March 28th until August 1st 2021, presenting works by artists Axel Antas and Laurent Millet. A newly commissioned work Leaky Teeth by Dafna Maimon will take over the Great Hall of the Institut finlandais and be presented in July 2021.
In spring 2021, A I S T I T / coming to our senses presents the exhibition Weaving, yearning in London, with a newly commissioned work by Kalle Nio and Hans Rosenström that will take form as a public installation in the bustling King’s Cross area.
The third chapter, Resonant bodies, will take place at KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art in Berlin from May 22nd through June 20th 2021 with works by Christine Sun Kim, Dominique Knowles and Kati Roover, as well as a newly commissioned work by Terike Haapoja.
In August 2021, as part of the prominent Helsinki Festival, the largest annual multi-arts festival in Finland, the fourth chapter Coming to our senses will unite all commissioned works from A I S T I T, as well as a group exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki.
The fifth instalment of A I S T I T / coming to our senses unfolds at Kunstencentrum Voo?uit in Ghent at the beginning of 2022 with a new commissioned performance work by Kid Kokko: Disappearing.
From the curators
When the directors of the four Finnish Institutes approached me with an invitation to explore the world of the senses, I was intrigued. My artistic practice has revolved around the sensorial and notions of presence.
However, considering the potential of the proposition, it became clear to me that this commission should be delved into with a multitude of voices. With the institutes’ blessing, I contacted the curator Satu Herrala to ask if she’d like to be my partner, to curate and organise an extensive programme.
I was delighted by this invitation. Hans’ practice as an artist has always resonated with me. He has the capacity to bring those engaging with his work to be truly present with their senses. With my background in dance, my orientation to the world comes from an embodied state where paying attention to the senses is vital. I try to move through the world in a conscious relation with the myriad bodily worlds and with the sensuous surroundings that we are all woven into.
The way senses connect us to our surroundings is fascinating. They play an important role in defining our relationship with the world outside our bodies and how we understand our position in it. Their transcending qualities enable a process by which the world enters into us – and make it possible for us to engage with the world. However, our perception is also obscured and limited to our own perspective. It is important to acknowledge that we share our lives with a multitude of other sensuous beings.
As the ecologist, philosopher and magician David Abram once said “Humans are tuned for relationship. The eyes, the skin, the tongue, ears, and nostrils – all are gates where our body receives the nourishment of otherness.” Abram wonders what happens when we (humans) “participate almost exclusively with other humans and with our own human-made technologies”, and claims that we also need reciprocity with others than ourselves and our own creations.
Technological developments have made it possible for us to expand our senses far from our physical location. In 2020, remote working, learning and socialising became commonplace for millions of people around the world. It seems very likely that it is here to stay. What happens to our sense of being when our presence is less and less bound to our bodies’ physical location? How to settle into our bodies while we continue to reach out? With these kinds of questions in mind, we started to plan the program for AISTIT.
Our approach to the topic of senses became twofold: On the one hand, we were interested in how art can make us aware of our own sensory experiences of the world in subtle and nuanced ways. On the other hand, we were eager to find out how art can guide us through the complexities of the sensory realm.
Typically, our senses are divided into five distinct categories; sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. We wished to move away from separate sensory systems and think about senses in a more holistic manner instead. How do sensorial organs support each other to make up our lived experience of the world? It became focal to us to approach the sensorial realm through notions of presence, interconnectedness, and embodied empathy.
Team and contact information
Satu Herrala is a Helsinki-based curator, researcher, and choreographer with a background in dance and somatic movement practices. She curates festival programmes, artistic discursive events, performances, and discussions. She holds an MA in choreography from the University of the Arts Helsinki. Between 2015 and 2019 she worked as the artistic director of Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival. She is a part-time doctoral student at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, working on curatorial methodologies of emergence and thinking about the possible conditions in which artistic events activate a (political) agency. She has been a regular mentor in the performing arts MFA at the Iceland University of the Arts since 2016.
Hans Rosenström is an artist whose practice centres around installations that deal with the viewer’s psychological and physical relationship within a specific moment and place. The works are often carefully produced in relation to the sites where they are experienced in. When creating these situations, he uses a wide variety of media and material; from the ephemeral yet tactile qualities of sound to architectural interventions. The presence of the viewer is integral in the work which often remains incomplete until it has been activated. Rosenström studied in both the Malmö Art Academy (Sweden) and the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, from where he received his MFA in 2007. Hans Rosenström participates in the AISTIT project also as an artist.
& SAMULI SAARINEN
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux serves as a liaison between players in the cultural field in Finland and the Benelux countries. As an independent, non-profit organisation, the institute’s main goal is to create opportunities in which artists and organisations can elaborate new projects and new possibilities of collaboration. The institute also produces its own content and productions in close collaboration with its partner networks, often tackling current social issues. The aim is to establish long-term and sustainable cooperation between artists and other professionals, in different cultural fields, from visual and performing arts, to literature, design, cinema, and more.
The Institute was founded in 1993 and is based in Brussels. It is maintained by the Foundation for the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux.
Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland is an expert on Finnish culture and society in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The institute supports mobility of Finnish contemporary art and helps artists, researchers and social and cultural actors to create international networks.
The Institute builds partnerships between the leading and most interesting Irish, British and Finnish organisations, supports research, creative industries and social innovation. The Institute has two programmes: arts and culture and society and culture. The Institute encourages cross-disciplinary and cross-border collaboration by creating networks and building new partnerships. The Institute was founded in 1991 and it is a non-profit, private foundation funded by The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
Institut finlandais (The Finnish Institute in France) is an independent and multidisciplinary platform between Finland and France. In collaboration with different international institutions, academia and creatives, the institute fosters international dialogue and exchange through its onsite and off-site programming. It seeks to explore how a cultural framework can strengthen new collaborative models in creative fields, such as design, contemporary art, fashion, architecture, cinema and performing arts. Institut finlandais was founded in 1990, and it is a private foundation funded by The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. The institute is located in the historic Latin Quarter of Paris, in the premises designed by the renowned Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa.
The Finnish Institute in Germany is a forum for Finnish culture and arts, academia and business in the German-speaking region. The Institute emphasises on networking and counselling of actors from different disciplines and offers, in co-operation with its partners, a diverse programme providing insights into Finland’s culture and society. The Finnish Institute has operated from Berlin since 1994 and is headquartered in the district Mitte.
AISTIT / coming to our senses is generously supported by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Culture (Finland), The Niilo Helander Foundation, Saastamoinen Foundation and The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.