Best action!

Text by Marianne Santala

The action is on.

Our pre-exercise for the camp was to choose the best action around any issue. Here we were divided into groups and we told the chosen actions as stories to the other group members. Then every group picked one action and performed it to the other groups. The extra challenge was to present the action without  saying any words. We were allowed to use any material that was available on the island.

We made performances of five different actions, which handled  social and ecological  issues in our society.

Sompasauna is a sauna located in Kalasatama, Helsinki. It was built on a wasteland of a former harbor by a couple of men who had found an abandoned stove. It is made mostly of construction waste and was the first public mixed sauna in Helsinki.

In 2017, Sami activists occupied an island in the Tenojoki or Tana river region straddling the border between Norway and Finland.  The purpose was to protest against new rules which restrict the traditional Sami  fishing technique. They also declared a  moratorium on the fishing regulations.

Sami moratorium performance. Photo: Havu Pellikka

Residents of Brussels had a picnic to reclaim the streets in 2012. There were at least 2000 residents having picnic in one of the central avenues of Brussels, and demanding more room for pedestrians and cyclists. Later on Brussels has reduced places downtown where cars are allowed.

#MeeToo is an international movement against sexual harassment  and assault. The hashtag started to spread virally in 2017 and it’s meant to reveal the extent of the problem as well as stand in solidarity to those who have been hurt. The movement has aroused public discussion around the topic in global scale.

#MeeToo performance. Photo: Havu Pellikka

Tilted arc by Richard Serra was a public art installation displayed in Manhattan from 1981 to 1989. The sculpture consisted of unfinished rust-covered COR-TEN steel plate placed in the Federal Plaza. According to Serra, the purpose was to make the viewer become aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. It was finally removed because it gained so much critic, since people working in the area found it ugly and disruptive to daily routines.

After performances we made conclusions by collectively creating a mind map around the actions through discussion.

The mind map of the best actions.

Setting the stage

Text and photos by Havu Pellikka

Dear readers,

Over the upcoming week, this blog will follow the activities of a bunch of people on a small uninhabited island, coming together to work on a pressing issue: tackling the climate crisis.

Each individual will bring to the island their personal skills and perspectives of our common world. We are a group of 20 artists, activists, researchers, and university students representing various disciplines: forestry, dance, meteorology, acting, dramaturgy, geophysics, light and sound design, and aerosol physics.

Embankments of Vallisaari on 30 Aug 2014

The work on the island will start from the very basics, covering the fundamental needs of food and shelter in our tent camp. There will be visiting lecturers and teachers, discussions, bat observing, and preparing the grand finale of the course, the Performance Action. What will be the outcome we do not yet know, but you can come and find out on May 26th, when the camp will be opened for visitors.

The camp will be located in Vallisaari, Helsinki, Finland, a former military island just a stone’s throw from the Suomenlinna UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a long time, Vallisaari (“Embankment Island”) provided fresh drinking water for sailors, supplies such as grazing land and firewood for the neighbouring Suomenlinna sea fortress, and acted as a base for pilots. Later on, under the Russian rule of the 19th century, fortifications were extended to Vallisaari itself.

Nature in Vallisaari has been left largely untouched over the past decades

In the 20th century, Vallisaari continued to serve the military as a storage area of weapons and ammunition. The human life on the island flourished around the mid-century, when it was home to some 300 people, a small rural community having its own school, shop, and cultural life, in addition to gardens and animals.

Roughly 1,000 butterfly species live in Vallisaari, among them many rare or threatened species. The insects here are collected for research purposes.

After the human settlement slowly disappeared, nature has been taking over the fortifications and other human traces on the island. The Finnish Defence Forces gave up the island in 2008 and it was opened to the public in 2016. Vallisaari boasts rich nature, having the highest diversity of species in all of Helsinki archipelago. This diversity is partly a consequence of human presence on the island, the meadows and other cultural landscapes as well as fortifications and caves providing many different habitats for life to thrive.

For 9 days, our group will be part of the web of life on the island, studying our place and role in the world where the human species keeps violating the planetary boundaries and ecosystems are crumbling as a result.

Welcome to follow our adventure!

Embankments of Vallisaari, with the city centre of Helsinki in the horizon

Think like a forest – Course information

Course registration is closed.

University of Helsinki master and doctoral students in atmospheric sciences have an opportunity to do the Project course in atmospheric sciences (ATM303, 5 ECTS) in a very special environment and company this spring. We are organising a climate change camp in Vallisaari island together with Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy in May 2018. See more details below. Welcome to challenge yourself, apply your expertise in a new environment, and make friends across disciplines!

Vallisaari island. Photo: Marianne Santala

Think like a forest
Integrating art, science and activism in a time of climate crisis

What happens when you put a bunch of scientists, artist and activists together on an island to face the climate crisis together? We don’t know, which is exactly why we are inviting you to join this transdisciplinary experiment in May 2018.

All the scientific predictions around the climate crisis are shooting off the charts, whether it is rising sea temperatures, species extinction or deforestation… Everything is speeding up and yet our attempts as a society to deal with the problems are not at all at the scale of the crisis itself. We all know that business as usual is not an option and that we need revolutionary action in all our disciplines to avert the worst. This requires us to step out of our set roles, go beyond our fixed identities and to prepare to jump out of our comfort zones together.

This residential experiment on the island of Vallisaari will explore how the research techniques of artists, theatre makers, climate scientists and activists can learn from each other and create synergies. How can science integrate the subjectivity and sensitivity of art into its practices? How can art become a useful tool of social transformation rather than be purely symbolic? How can activism go beyond mobilising with facts and figures and embody the poetic?

Seascape on the Vallisaari island. Photo: Marianne Santala

The workshop is residential, the accommodation will be in tents, you will need a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat, pillow etc. Taking part in building, maintaining and taking down of the camp is part of the workshop, participants can expect to be working mostly outdoors in Vallisaari. You do not need to own a tent. Food service might be a combination of catering and cooking.

Course work includes:
– Writing a project plan before and a report after the camp.
– Attending the starting seminar at TeaK on Wed 16.5. 17.30-20.30, and the camp in Vallisaari during 18.-27.5.
– University of Helsinki students have an introductory meeting in Kumpula before the starting seminar. Time and place will be announced later.

Course code for University of Helsinki students:
ATM303 (Project course in atmospheric sciences, 5 cr)

Course Page:

See the course page.

Person in Charge:
Laura Riuttanen (

Target group:
1. Master and Doctoral students in atmospheric sciences of Helsinki University
2. BA and MA students from the University of Arts, Theatre Academy (separate application process via University of Arts weboodi, course code: T-XY205)

Costs for students:
The majority of your costs will be covered, however there might be a requirement of cost towards food for each student: max. 5-10 euros per day.

How to apply:
Course registration closed on 19.3.2018.

Decisions will be made and informed to all applicants at the latest on Wed March 29th.

Team of facilitators/teachers:
• Isabelle Frémeaux and John Jordan, co-founders of the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination
• University of Helsinki, Institute of Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR)
Lectures by Laura Riuttanen, Taina Ruuskanen, Kourosh Kabiri Koupaei, Hanna Vehkamäki, Timo Vesala
• University of Arts of Helsinki, Theatre Academy
Lectures by Paavo Järvensivu
• In collaboration with Metsähallitus