A new way of being social


The materials create a construction of seductive images, which looks at the relationship between nature and humans from a new angle. When the animal and vegetable kingdoms are seen as human actors, and when bacteria or abstract climate change are given faces, the traditional division of culture and nature is broken. Environment is seen as something else besides just a resource to be exploited by humans, and linear economy becomes unsustainable. In circular economy, humans cohabit the planet and are a part of the circle of nature.

The Italian artist Marco Castelli questions our view of the world in the work A Micro Odyssey. The images feed our imagination and break our conventional visual expectations. When an image looks like it was taken from the space, but is revealed to be bacteria growth, it creates a symbolic representation of the current state and future of the Earth. In a limited space growth is limited.

The series You and I by Chinese Huaijun Wen removes the distinction between a person and nature. When the photographs taken of the plants in the artist’s home are contrasted with the details of the artist’s own skin, an equal dialogue between a human and nature is created. The work Mielikuvitusystävä (Imaginary friend) by Finnish Janna Lindfors examines the fixed but at the same time complex relationship between humans and animals. On one hand, we can talk about friendship, but on the other hand, nature is tamed to meet the needs of humans. In this series of photos this is turned upside down. A person’s life amongst symbolic animals emphasizes the loss of lacking real nature, missing a common language, and the human being is left alone. We feel sorry for the person. Nature representations take over when nature goes extinct. The work He Died for My Sins by Raisa Foster crystalizes the ethical pondering of humans’ responsibility of others. The work asks if humans have the right to kill just for entertainment or vanity.

Climate change belongs, at the same time, to everybody and nobody. In the work X the German artist Jana Köhler exploits an intimate viewpoint in dealing with an abstract phenomenon. Köhler uses a poetic viewpoint to give faces to the faceless. Finnish Satu Miettinen uses a similar way of addressing the observer in the work Everything will Change. Climate change is not about global warming, but everything changing: transportation, living, food production, and culture are all changing. Red Horse, by Emilia Kangasluoma, offers images of extreme climate phenomena, which force us to prepare for the worst. The bunkers built alongside our homes create a vision of a world of change, which is of social variety.

In the Metsän ääri – Backwood series of photos taken with a pinhole camera by the Finnish artist Kaisu Häkkänen, we are alerted to the importance of listening to the nearby nature. Nature is not only valuable as a spectacular cultural presentation, but also as quiet and ordinary, and in order to get to know it, one must stop and become quiet. The intrinsic value of nature is also emphasized in the series of photos by Russian Anna Cherednikova, in Garden of Migrations. Instead of poisoning weeds, the work asks what we could learn from the arrival of invasive species and how to adapt and live in a sustainable manner within change.

In What is a Tree Other Than Freedom? the Uruguayan artist Ignacio Varela Pastorino depicts the importance of locality in the rooting of a person. Over generations, we get attached to our near-by forest and when it is cut down, a person’s roots are cut as well. The series defends diversity, where the natural ecosystems are seen just as socially valuable as people’s systems. In the tender I Reflect video performance, Romanian artist Andrei Nacu demonstrates our connection to the nature.  Humans are 70 per cent made of water, and a part of the water cycle, both socially and ethically.

Juha Suonpaa