A feral sympoiesium co-organised on & with the Vartiosaari island, Helsinki.

31 May Fri 11:00 CEST

2 Jun Sun 20:00 CEST

The sympoiesium brings together creative practitioners and researchers working with multispecies ecologies to explore diverse approaches to more-than-human co-creation – of knowledge, data, experiences, and relations. We will focus, among others, on the 1) ethical aspects of more-than-human co-creation (who can participate, to what extent? whose interests and futures are considered?) the 2) diverse aesthetic forms this can take in practice (how could these collaborations sound, smell, taste, look, feel like?), and the 3) wider sociopolitical contexts of living and collaborating with/as more-than-human ecologies (including e.g. questions of more-than-human personhood and authorship).

The event is a continuation of last year’s Feral Festival: Living with Feral Ecologies that invited participants for a ‘feral’ (relational, open-ended, multisensory, spontaneous) exploration of more-than-human ecologies and relations in the Lapinlahti park, Helsinki. The 2024 sympoiesium aims to invigorate this feral experimentation through a 3-day program of conversations and creative activities situated at Helsinki’s Vartiosaari island – including digging, rowing, planting, pickling, cooking, eating, swimming, diving, walking, listening, dreaming, and remembering. These co-creative activities are interweaved with a Feral Talkoot* to help the island recover from the winter season.

*Talkoot (in Finnish) = working together to do something that one would not be able to do alone. Gathering for carrying out a major task, such as harvesting or construction.

Event spacetime: May 31st – June 2nd 2024, 11am – 8pm at Vartiosaari. To get there, you need to take a ferry or row. The FRS ferry will take you there on all 3 days; on Sat & Sun there is also a small ferry zipping between Vartiosaari and the Reposalmi päälaituri. For other feral arrivals, there are two rowing boats. On the island, you will find us at the base house of the Vartiosaari Art Collective.

Curators: Markéta Dolejšová (marketa.dolejsova@aalto.fi) and Gloria Lauterbach (gloria.lauterbach@aalto.fi)

The sympoiesium program is open to public participation, there are no entry fees. The festival is organised within the Uroboros Loops program as a collaboration of creative practitioners and researchers from the Uroboros Collective, the Vartiosaari Artists ry, and Aalto University’s Department of Design.

🧠 🌱 Visitor tips: The sympoiesium is a small community-driven event and you are welcome to bring food and drinks for yourself and/or for others. The program takes place mostly outdoors so bring your favorite warm layers. Toilets and drinkable tap water exist on the island.

Sympoiesium Program

The sympoiesium presents a shapeshifting program of 27 events scheduled in the Vartiosaari’s Island Analogue* spacetime zone. This means that they might be noticeable at different times to different creatures.

*Inspired by René Daumal’s Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing

Friday 31st May

The sympoiesium Day 1 will gather 2023 festival contributors into a co-creative reflection on what happened in Lapinlahti (but you can join us even if you weren’t there last year).

11:00 – 12:00 Feral Welcome

Arriving-with Vartiosaari, getting to know the island, the sympoiesium, and each other. Improvised breakfast included.

12:00 – 14:00 Feral Festival 2023 Dérive 
By Markéta Dolejšová

A co-creative drift through and with Feral Festival 2023 memories guided by co-generated more-than-human prompts. The drift will be followed by a sharing circle to assemble ideas for the Feral Fields Issue of the Salarakas zine – a co-authored DIY magazine invited to be published in September. The session is open to anyone – not having any memories of the 2023 festival might be an advantage.

14:00-15:00 Micro-phenomenology Interviews  
By Anton Poikolainen Rosén

A crash course on micro-phenomenological interviews: an interview method that zooms in on tiny details and nuances of an experience. The method is suitable for unpacking both complex and mundane more-than-human experiences. Following the course, we will interview each other about our experiences from the 2023 Feral Festival (those who did not participate at the festival can run interviews on more-than-human themes and concerns more broadly). 

15:00-16:00 Feral Talkoot vol. 1 // Potato Boats
By everyone interested in boats and/or potatoes

16:00-18:00 Role-playing Relations with More-than-human
By Tommi Vasko

What does it mean to engage with more-than-human beings in the framework of role-play? This workshop is a short two-hour exercise in role-playing as a practice to experiment with different agencies and relationships with human and more-than-human worlds. We will explore ourselves as role-players, try out what it means to embody temporary agencies and step in and out of the magic circles of role-playing games.

18:00-19:00 Action Animates but Narrows, Thought Expands but Paralyses
By İdil Gaziulusoy

A discussion on the relationships between activism and academic work.

Saturday 1st June

11:00-12:00 Water Experience 
By Julia Lohmann

Getting to know the Baltic Sea through our bodies. Please bring waders or neoprene attire you might own. Followed by a 12:00 – 13:00 post-water re-emergence with hot drinks, towels, dry clothes, etc.

13:00-14:00 Experimental and Multimodal Ways to Collect and Express Baltic Sea Data
By Anton Poikolainen Rosén

What is data for you? How would you express it? This workshop may ground and inspire the following session ‘Multispecies sustainable Baltic Sea 2050’. 

14:00-15:00 Lunch 

15:00-17:00 Multispecies Sustainable Baltic Sea 2050
By Kaisa Roover

Visioning workshop for multispecies sustainable Baltic Sea 2050 for Finland´s territorial waters and economic zone. The used methods are a version of Ullman´s dreamwork (theatre field) for creating connection and Causal Layered Analysis for the future vision creation.  

17:00-18:00 More-Than-Human Listening Station 
By Erich Berger

This temporary sonic observatory invites us to pause on the rocks and listen to a situated soundscape that taps into the presence of that which is within and beyond the human sensory capabilities. A soft blend of environmental sounds mixes with the extra-sensorial, scaling earth’s signals to the human gamut. The stagnant postglacial uplift of the Fennoscandian shield and its crustal murmurations are mingling with the sound of birds, the wind, and humans, coupling with the radio signals of telluric and atmospheric currents and with the rays of perpetual radioactive decay and cosmic radiation into a more-than-human saturation.

18:30-19:30 Feral Talkoot vol. 2 // Potato Boat Actually!

20:00-21:00 (Un)learning along Averselka
By Enrique Encinas

A dinner table chat on more-than-human pedagogies flowing along Averselka, a glitchy film emerging from the collaboration between participants in a design course and Oslo’s river Akerselva. Everyone is welcome to share their (un)learning experiences whether they sprout from more-than-human gatherings in educational contexts or not.

Sunday 2nd June

03:00-04:00 A Secret Gathering of Nocturnal Creatures
By Tuukka Perhoniemi

A secret feral meeting somewhere on the island. Can you find it? Is it only in your dreams? Can you enter the feral circle or are you inevitably an outsider? Did this even happen? Don’t say a word, just ask yourself: what might this be? 

11:00-12:00 Sentimentally Fierce
By Mari Keski-Korsu

When a tree is cut, there is violence and grief. Perhaps, there is also sustenance. When I first met with them, they fiercely said: “No need to be so sentimental!!” This session is an encounter with a cut birch tree and explores storytelling through transcorporeal, sensory registers within sentient ecologies. It attempts to be in composting, witnessing, shifting body positions and zooming in/out the sensuous rough. The session includes entangling with various sensory and intuitive embodied knowledge through e.g. walking barefoot on a trunk of the fallen Birch. It is possible to opt out from parts of the session that are not physically or otherwise suitable. Please note that in addition to the Birch, you may be touched by another human-being.

12:00-13:00 Feral Talkoot vol. 3 // Emergent Matters

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:00 The Good, The Bad and the Algae
By Sonja Repetti

Do you know what algae are? Did you know that they can be beautiful? We will explore the different shapes of Baltic Sea microalgae and make our own cells out of clay. There will also be the opportunity to study life at the microscopic scale through cardboard microscopes.

15:00-16:00 Mobile Ferments
By Maya Hey

This workshop combines foraging with fermentation praxis by gathering fermentables on the island and setting up different experiments for participants to take home. Inspired by Aga Pokrywka, the workshop relies on wild yeast starters (provided) and an ethos of DIY/DIT/commons. No previous fermenting experience is required. Participants are encouraged to bring a lidded vessel to carry/contain/carefully-transport liquids. 

16:00-17:00 Microbial Visions
By Agniezska Pokrywka

Are the microbes we consume in our daily fermented foods trying to tell us something? In this deeply relaxing and speculative session, we will enjoy different kinds of fermented beverages and snacks to look into the emotions, thoughts, and images that travel from the stomach, all the way to the nervous system.
Bring a blanket and comfy clothes to keep warm and relax! Oh, and don’t forget to bring a notebook and pen too!

17:30-18:30 Practicing Impossible Ways of Possibly Resurrecting a Poisoned E-Coli Bacterium
By Bart HM Vandeput (Bartaku)

In mighty `mount analogue´ spirit, we engage in pathing the possibly impossible art of resurrecting a poisoned E-Colli. First, we deeply listen to the dispersion of the sound bites of its last vibrations into the air and ourselves. Then, we imagine and practice ways of responding, starting by singing along to the recording of the dying bacterium played backwards. Your/s emerging improvs in situ are most welcomed, too.

18:30-19:30 Forest Tea and Soil Meditation
By Mira Niittymäki

A guided journey through certain lifetimes and cycles in the soil of our living landscape. Bring your own mug and a blanket or something to sit/lie on. Wear enough clothes to feel comfortable to stay still for 15-30 mins.

20:00-21:00 DreamMachine: What Do We Dream in Polycrisis Times?
By Gloria Lauterbach & Satu Aavanranta

The workshop aims at exploring how our night dreams can help forming a collective of conscious dreamers. Research shows how crisis times affect our dreams at night. Dreams make 50% of our lifetime. In most indigenous practices, dreams at night are an important marker of one’s inner/outer processes, learnings and imagination. Let’s neither exploit dreams nor the nights, but simply give them more attention. A sort of DreamMachine will be set up at the art house collecting dreams for the duration of the 3-day event. Let’s not discuss them, but ponder about the importance of night dreams for our research in general.

Markéta Dolejšová

Markéta Dolejšová is a practice-based researcher working across participatory art and design to explore the shapeshifting dynamics of more-than-human coexistence and the changing relations among humans, nature, and technology. She is currently affiliated as a postdoctoral research fellow at Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture (FI) and has co-founded several art-design research initiatives including the Uroboros festival, the Open Forest Collective, the Feeding Food Futures network, and the Fermentation GutHub. In 2020-22 she worked with the CreaTures – Creative Practices for Transformational Futures EU project where she led the Laboratory of experimental artistic productions.

Gloria Lauterbach

Gloria Lauterbach is a visual artist and postdoctoral researcher at NODUS - Sustainable Design Research Group, Aalto University, Finland. Gloria has a PhD in Arts from Aalto University. As an artistic researcher, Gloria is passionate about dialogical post/humanism, post-anthropocentric theories, materials in cooperation, the more-than-human in human habitation and darkness as an urban restoration force. At best, this research takes place outside, practicing with and considering other/s.

Julia Lohmann

Julia Lohmann is a Professor of Practice in Contemporary Design. She investigates and critiques the ethical and material value systems underpinning our relationship with flora and fauna. Julia's research interests include critical practice and transition-design, bio materials, collaborative making, museums and residencies, embodied cognition and practice as research. As designer in residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013, she established the Department of Seaweed, an interdisciplinary community of practice exploring the marine plant's potential as a design material. She holds a PhD in Innovation Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art, London.

Anton Poikolainen Rosén

Anton Poikolainen Rosén is a researcher and lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). He focuses on designing for sustainable futures and the more-than-human world. Anton's thesis investigated how urban farmers use interactive technologies to organise their practice and understand and appreciate the more-than-human world. The thesis also articulates how plants can be seriously considered as stakeholders in design processes. Anton is a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland and has a PhD in Informatics from Södertörn University and Umeå University, Sweden.

Kaisa Roover

Kaisa Roover has been privileged to work on many internationally awarded projects in the audio-visual field for over a decade, before her current studies in Creative Sustainability Masters program at Aalto University. Currently she is working on a thesis that is looking at the case of Finnish Maritime Spatial Planning and how "voiceless", more-than-human stakeholders could be included in the process. Exploring how multispecies sustainability and justice can be effectively embedded in design and planning practice, through critical and experiential foresight and storytelling.

Aga Pokrywka

Aga Pokrywka is a multidisciplinary and fermentation wizardess. She works with design, film, sound, text and collaborative practices to weave eclectic narratives and re-tell stories that communicate diverse viewpoints of our complex reality. Aga is fascinated by how we can comprehend the unnoticed and capture it with our senses, be it microbes, celestial bodies, or systemic structures. She is the host of Ferment Radio, a podcast series on bacterial and social fermentation, and co-founder at Super Eclectic, a creative studio on a mission to inspire action on the most critical issues of our time. Aga is also a member of The Centre for the Social Study of Microbes at the University of Helsinki.

Bart HM Vandeput

I am Bart HM Vandeput, artist and researcher inquiring the human condition through plants, microbes, light, energy and technology. Under the name Bartaku, in the fields of Bioart and intermedia art I interweave a manifold of entities, media, processes and disciplines in serious playful ways into installations, interventions, exhibitions, talks and lecturess. Currently I direct a collective inquiry into the microbiomes in cooling towers of nuclear facilities. In this context I am a postdoc researcher at the Centre for Bioethics at Antwerp University and enjoy visiting roles at Aalto, Ghent and Hasselt Universities’ physics and microbiology departments. I am a member and co-founder of several art collectives.

Research pages; LinkedIn; website

Enrique Encinas

Enrique Encinas (they/he) is a design researcher exploring the patterns and textures formed by (other than) + humans and technologies through creative, critical and collaborative practices. He works as Associate Professor in Interaction Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO). They have co-lead projects involving governmental, artistic and educational institutions such as the European Union Policy Lab, the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona (CCCB) or SpeculativeEDU.

Mira Niittymäki

Mira Niittymäki is a visual artist and designer. She holds an MA in Contemporary Design (Aalto University) and a BA in Glass Art & Ceramics (Aalto University). In her practice, she is fascinated by different connections to the natural world and seeks inspiration from the wisdom within non-human entities. Her work includes sculptures, installations, performances, and artistic research. At the moment she is exploring a dialog between human and land in the northernmost Finland within the research group Empirica.

Sonja Repetti

Sonja Repetti (she/her) is an interdisciplinary doctoral researcher based at the University of Helsinki and Tvärminne Zoological Station, Finland, with a passion for protists. She completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Melbourne in 2019, with a thesis focusing on genome dynamics of green algae. In 2022, she submitted her thesis about the effect of nutrient availability on phytoplankton trait distribution and competition outcomes along a salinity gradient for the degree of Master of Science (Environmental Change and Global Sustainability) at the University of Helsinki. She began her doctoral studies in 2023, focusing on the capacity of algae to respond and adapt to environmental change, as well as increasing public understanding and appreciation of algae. She is a doctoral researcher member of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS.

Tuukka Perhoniemi

Tuukka Perhoniemi is everybody’s favourite astrophilosopher. During nighttime, he explores the ambient darkness and tries to understand the universe. During daytime, he gives courses in Astronomical Association Ursa, writes and translates books, and tries to understand other living beings.

Mari Keski-Korsu

Mari Keski-Korsu is a post-disciplinary researcher and artist who explores micro-level manifestations of the ecological polycrisis. Her research and art practice involve intuitive interspecies communication, hydrobodily care and walking methodology to acknowledge relationality in ecosystems as sentient ecologies. She is a doctoral researcher to study towards Doctor of Arts degree (expected 2024) in Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art and Media and in RAT research group. Her research focuses on multispecies/more-than-human ritualisations in change in the (sub)Arctic and she is an artist member in interdisciplinary research group working in Abisko Scientific Research Station in Access Abisko program (2022 – 2024) by Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.

The medium of expression for the more-than-human collaborations is a hybrid combination of participatory performance, visual and live art. They have been exhibited internationally for the past 25 years in festivals, outskirts, galleries and museums such as Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, ANTI Festival, neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) and Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art to name a few. Notable residency programmes are for instance Frontiers in Retreat, Saari Invited Artist Programme, Northern Network for Performing Arts and More-than-Planet. Mari has been collaborating with Bioart Society for over a decade and worked as an artistic director for Pixelache festival. She holds a MA from University of Arts and Design Helsinki (Medialab)  and BA in visual arts from Polytechnic of Western Lapland. She is a specialist in Baltic Finnic steam bathing ceremonies and teaches traditional sauna healing practices.

İdil Gaziulusoy

İdil Gaziulusoy is a sustainability scientist and a design researcher, Professor of Sustainable Design and leader of NODUS Research Group at Aalto University. İdil is interested in long-term systemic change, transdisciplinary research, and preposterous imagination for a flourishing World.

Satu Aavanranta

Satu Aavanranta is about to graduate from the Creative Sustainability master's degree programme at Aalto University. For her thesis, within the NorDark project, she researched the sustainability problem of artificial light pollution by focusing on the atmospheric phenomena of darkness, and especially the value of darkness for humans and multispecies. Recently, Satu has worked as an intern at the sustainable development team at the Prime Minister's Office and as a research assistant at NODUS Sustainable Design Research Group at Aalto University.

Erich Berger

Erich Berger is a doctoral researcher, artist and curator based in Helsinki. He works at the University of Oulu in Finland, where he conducts transdisciplinary research into how artists approach temporalities beyond human-centred time, intersecting cultural anthropology with art and geology. His artistic focus lies on issues of deep time and hybrid ecology which led him to work with geological processes, radiogenic phenomena and their socio-political implications in the here and now.

Tommi Vasko

Tommi Vasko is a design researcher who currently focuses on Live Action Role-plays and gaming in the context of sustainability transitions. Tommi is also a co-founder of an autonomous educational platform Trojan Horse.

Maya Hey

Maya Hey is a postdoctoral researcher with the Centre for the Social Study of Microbes at the University of Helsinki. She studies fermentation, particularly as it reveals our assumptions about what microbes are, how we work with them, and how they get slotted into capitalist, solutionist, or healthist narratives. She is currently working on a book about fermentation as a material practice of making sense of—and living with—microbes.