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 sensory perceptions and how they shape us as human beings.
AISTIT / coming to our senses gradually unfolds from March 2021 to February 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 AISTIT / 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 Elissa and Alvar 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 July 27th 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, AISTIT / coming to our senses presents the chapter 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 and Kati Roover among others, 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 AISTIT, as well as a group exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki.
The final chapter AISTIT / 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.
An online conversation between the curators and commissioned artists of the project will be organised on Zoom on February 2nd, 2021 at 7pm CET.
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 Abram¹ wrote "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.
David Abrams The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More Than Human World (Vintage 1997)
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.
Maryan Abdulkarim & Sonya Lindfors
Etel Adnan & Simone Fattal
Monira Al Qadiri
Paris, Berlin, Helsinki
Anna Maria Häkkinen & Maija Mustonen
Christine Sun Kim
Kalle Nio & Hans Rosenström
The full list of artists and partners will be published later this spring.