Past Exhibition

2017 Art Sonje Project #7: Frontiers in Retreat: Edge Effects – Active Earth

November 7 – December 3, 2017

Art Sonje Project Space

2017 Art Sonje Project #7: Frontiers in Retreat: Edge Effects – Active Earth

Art Sonje Center will be held the 2017 Art Sonje Project #7: Frontiers in Retreat: Edge Effects – Active Earthand public programmes.

Frontiers and Entangled Ecologies

While borders draw divisive lines, frontiers are transition and contact zones. Diversity is always richest in areas where different ecosystems meet: This is the <i>edge effect</i>. An encounter never leaves one unaffected[1].

‘Ecology’ is about perspective, really. There is no such thing as ‘nature’ or ‘environment’ separate from human life and conceptualisation. It might be more meaningful to think about the mesh of ecosystems and processes that we are part of: quantum, biological, affective, cognitive, symbolic, social, political, economic, technological…It’s all entangled.

The artists in the Edge Effects: Active Earth exhibition, while imagining and building scenarios for future biomes, bodies and ways of being, tackle these enmeshed ecologies through syntheses of various materials, methods and philosophical registers. While doing so, they break outdated notions of ecological questions as something separate from our everyday existence.

At present, our lives are mostly earth-bound, despite the fantasies of some individuals to transform humans into interplanetary dwellers. Techno-fixated fantasy is often built on the hope of escaping the boundaries of our bodies and planet. Dreams of thriving space colonies fuel utopian ideas of infinite growth and expansion to ever new frontiers, and allow us not to learn how to keep on living on Earth. Concepts such as ‘virtual’ and ‘immaterial’ are often associated with these dreams, and they blur the fact that even the most sophisticated technologies are based on materialities and physical conditions available or possible in this solar system. In this sense, they are of ‘nature’.

Radically diverse beings, things and processes can count as technologies, and human experience has always evolved along with the introduction of new technologies based on specific materialities and inter-species relationships. Therefore, it is impossible to approach ecology without thinking about technology and other aspects of human existence. However, humans are really not in the centre of this show: it is also impossible to think of ecology without acknowledging the infinite and intimate ways in which our lives are interwoven with non-human life forms, such as microbes, minerals or mushrooms.

The ‘Active Earth’ group show and public programme at Art Sonje Center is part of the exhibition series Edge Effects, organised by Frontiers in Retreat project. Its seven satellite exhibitions weave connections between geographically dispersed artistic processes that strive towards new understandings of ecological transitions.

Complex, subtle and often obscured co-dependencies between humans and other life forms are in the focus of the Seoul edition of the exhibition series. The conceptual key to the exhibition, reflected in the setup of the exhibition space, is ‘entanglement’ – ever-changing, knotty relations between all forms of matter. What emerges is a porous, pulsing and mutating ecosystem.

The public programme elaborates on and complicates the questions posed by the artworks through two discursive and performative Learning Sessions, whereas the compact library/archive opens up a curated selection of fragments from the Frontiers in Retreat project (2013–2018) in various media.

According to Donna Haraway, the arts of living and dying on a damaged planet call for cultivating our capacities to understand how things work together, in ‘sympoiesis’, and abilities to respond, response-ability, to the world we inhabit. [2]

About Frontiers in Retreat Project

The exhibition series Edge Effects brings together artworks, processes and methods by artists affiliated with Frontiers in Retreat, a five-year international collaboration project that fosters contemporary art with an ecological perspective and experimental approach.

Since its inception in 2013, Frontiers in Retreat project has supported artistic work that concerns itself with ecology. In total, 25 artists have been invited to conduct research and produce new works in response to particular ecosystems at seven residency sites across Europe. Their research has ranged across fjords, forests, islands, villages, towns, cities, and mountains in Iceland, Finland, Scotland, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, and Spain. Rather than a fixed set of theories, concepts, and methods, there have been multiple voices and views, positions and practices.

Seven residency sites at the edges of Europe have been approached using various artistic and multidisciplinary methods. These sites are seen as frontiers where entanglements between human and other life forms become tangible. They allow insight into the entwined processes of ecological, social, and economic change.

Through creating a platform for shared inquiry, Frontiers in Retreat has brought seven geographically dispersed sites closer to each other on the world map. Instead of conventional cartography, the process has resembled a kind of deep mapping: while engaging with the unique characteristics of each site, the participants have also learned about the forces shaping habitats, human and non-human life trajectories, and migration patterns globally.

In the spirit of Frontiers in Retreat, the 2017–2018 Edge Effects exhibitions pose critical questions about the constitution of frontiers and boundaries. As the Frontiers project continues as an open platform that branches out to new contexts, further edge effects can be expected.

What kinds of boundaries should be dismantled, so that change in the direction of an ecologically sustainable future would be possible?[3]

– Jenni Nurmenniemi,
Curator, Frontiers in Retreat Project; HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme

[1] Curatorial notes, concept for the Edge Effects exhibition series, Jenni Nurmenniemi and Taru Elfving, July 2016.
[2] Frontiers curator Jenni Nurmenniemi’s notes from Haraway, D. 2016. ’Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene’.
[3] Frontiers curators’ notes: Yvonne Billimore and Sam Trotman, SSW – Scottish Sculpture Workshop, July 2017.


Elena Mazzi (b. 1984 in Reggio Emilia, Italy) received a BFA in 2007 in History of Art from Siena University, and a MFA in 2011 in Visual Art from IUAV, Venice University. She was selected for an exchange program at Royal Academy of Art (Konsthögskolan) of Stockholm. Mazzi has participated in several solo and group shows, among others Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, 16° Rome Quadriennale, Modern Art Gallery in Turin, 14° Istanbul Biennale, 17° BJCEM Mediterranean Biennale, EGE–European Glass Experience, Fittja Pavilion at the 14° Architecture Venice Biennale, COP17 in Durban, Festival of Contemporary Art in Slovenia, and among others she exhibited at Botkyrka Konsthall in Stockholm, Italian Institute of Culture in Stockholm, XIV BBCC Expo in Venice, Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation.

Mazzi has attended different residency programs and workshops such as HIAP (FI), GuilmiArtProject (IT), Via Farini (IT), Foundation Botin (SP), Bevilacqua La Masa (IT), Future Farmers A.I.R. (USA), Fondazione Spinola Banna in Turin (IT), Dolomiti contemporanee (IT), Botkyrka Konsthall Air (SE). She was one of the finalists at Talent Prize, Celeste Prize, Fabbri prize, Meru prize and Termoli prize and the winner of Thalie Art Foundation grant, VISIO Young Talent Acquisition prize, Eneganart prize, Illy grant for Unidee, Pistoletto Foundation 2016, ntcm e l’arte 2016, m–cult media and technology program 2016, Special mention for Arte Patrimonio e diritti umani, Antworks award 2015, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo prize 2015, Lerici Foundation grant in 2012 and Movin’up Italian prize for young Italian artists abroad in 2011.

Mazzi has lectured in several museums in Italy and abroad and for the year 2016–2017 she is a tutor and visiting professor for the project Energy Atlas at Spinola Banna Foundation in collaboration with GAM Modern Art Gallery of Turin.

mirko nikolić (b. 1984, in Belgrade, Serbia) lives between Sweden, Finland and Serbia. mirko’s praxis aims to rework capitalism’s interactions with earth through performances that seek to imagine more fair collaborations between different species and heterogeneous bodies. In recent projects, mirko has worked on translation of atmosphere into finance, industrialisation of animal labour, and correlation between the use of internet and climate change. In multi–part collaboration with Marika Troili, they have been unlearning how to survive at the edges of wilderness. Long–term project minor earth deals with mining as a process of desire that radically transforms both mineral and human bodies. At the moment, mirko is engaged in developing a tactical media platform for sensing and vocalising forest and mineral modes of being in North–East Finland. Over the recent years, mirko has also been organising symposia and events around the topics of more–than–human elaborations of visual arts and philosophy. mirko holds a PhD in Arts & Media Practice from the University of Westminster, London.

Nabb+Teeri is an artist duo formed in 2008 by Finnish artists Janne Nabb (b. 1984) and Maria Teeri (b. 1985). Their layered and polymorphic works are compositions based on somewhat messy encounters, interactions, and fusions between the artists and other things. Nabb+Teeri work with material surplus of both human and non–human activity. Alongside of found materials and objects, their stratified,

mesh–like works include elements created with 3D modelling or other digital technologies. These often ephemeral works change their form throughout long processes.

Nabb+Teeri are graduates of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (2011). Recent exhibitions include Materiell Tanke at Varbergs Konsthall (2017); Augmented Geology at KARST, Plymouth (2017); Thinking of Invertebrates at Pori Art Museum (2017); mesh /mɛʃ/ at EMMA, Espoo Museum of Modern Art (2015), and The Leftovers of An Unknown Party at Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova, Turku, and Tampere Art Museum (2014) in the occasion of being awarded Young Artists of the Year 2014.

Tuomas A. Laitinen’s (b. 1976, lives and works in Helsinki) recent work focuses on speculative interfaces, the use of and rhetorics on ‘natural resources’, human and non–human agencies, and the global economy. Laitinen is interested in complex, complicit relations between geographically and culturally distant entities which, though remote from one another, are connected through the mechanisms of global economic cycles and raw material flows. His art gives a visible form to the micro–and macro–level processes and mythical undercurrents that underlie everyday existence. Laitinen works across a range of media combining the moving image, 3D animation, light, sound, installation and spatial intervention.

Laitinen graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts (KUVA), Helsinki in 2008. He has worked in USA, China, Germany, Finland and Estonia, and his works have been recently exhibited at, among others, at Le Cyclop, France; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark; KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Finland; Alt Esc, Brooklyn, New York; Bucharest Biennale 7; SADE LA Gallery, Los Angeles; Moving Image New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul. In 2014, he won the Fine Arts Academy of Finland Prize, and was awarded a solo show at EMMA–Espoo Museum for Contemporary Art. In 2016 Laitinen participated in the ISCP (International Studio & Curatorial Program) residency program in New York.

Jaakko Pallasvuo (b. 1987) ​lives in Helsinki​. His work deals with hierarchies, feelings, and social arrangements. He makes videos, ceramics, texts and images. In recent years Pallasvuo’s works have been exhibited at Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Rotterdam International Film Festival, CAC Vilnius, Museum Of Modern Art in Warsaw​, November Film Festival ​and CCA Derry~Londonderry, among others. His first book, Scorched Earth, was published by Arcadia Missa in 2015.

Public Programme

Exhibition Opening
Tuesday, November 7, 4–6 PM, Art Sonje Center Project Space & Parallax Hanok

Active Earth Séance by mirko nikolić & Tuomas A. Laitinen
6–7 PM, Art Sonje Center Art Hall

Artist Talks: Nabb+Teeri, Elena Mazzi, mirko nikolić, Tuomas A. Laitinen
Moderated by Jenni Nurmenniemi

Held in English with spontaneous Korean translation.
Wednesday, November 8, 4–6 PM, Art Sonje Center Art Hall

Learning Session 1
Reading Art & Ecology: Artistic Practices for Symmetrical Life
Friday, November 10, 7 – 9pm, Art Sonje Center Parallax Hanok
Panel: Rohwa Jeong, Kyounghee Lee, Bora Hong, Haeju Kim, Hyejin Yeo
Music: Gyepi sisters
Co-curated by: Bora Hong, Haeju Kim, Hyejin Yeo


Learning Session 2
Reading Sympoiesis (Donna Haraway)

Saturday, November 11, 7 – 9pm, Art Sonje Center Parallax Hanok
Lecture: Yoomi Choi

About the Learning Session

In Learning Session, a related programme of the exhibition Edge Effect—Active Earth, the participant will read texts that deliver the ideas of organism and life, substance and human, the relationship between human and human along with an ecological perspective.
In the first Learning Session, a part of an anthology, Art & Ecology: Artistic Practices for Symmetrical Life, curated by vice versa and Haeju Kim, will be read. The book deals with multi-layered artistic practices penetrating through the ecological perspective as well as the attitude in different regions including Korea, European countries, Latin America, etc. The first session will be followed by a live performance by a world music duo, Gyepi Sisters.
In the second Learning Session, we will read a text about Donna Harraway’s idea of ‘Sympoesis’. Harryway is an ecologist, philosopher and feminist who executed diverse researches including Cyborg Manifesto (1985) which makes a concrete link between the science and the feminism.
We hope to warm each other with hot tea and wine and light up the space with candlelight instead of electricity throughout the two-time learning sessions.Please prepare the warm clothes and blanket when attending this programme.
We will share the texts referred in the programme to those who reserved in advance, which all participants are recommended to read them in advance. The programme will be a place to read and learn together, having conversations each other on site.

Frontiers in Retreat Learning Sessions Curators Bora Hong, Haeju Kim, Hyejin Yeo

November 7 – December 3, 2017
Art Sonje Project Space
Elena Mazzi & Sara Tirelli (Italy), Jaakko Pallasvuo (Finland), mirko nikolić (Serbia / UK), Nabb+Teeri (Finland), Tuomas A. Laitinen (Finland)
Hosted by
Art Sonje Center
Curated by
Jenni Nurmenniemi
Supported by
Alfred Kordelin Foundation, AVEK, Europian Commision, Ministry of Education and Culture(FI), the Kone Foundation