Juhola, Katja: ISEAS International Socially Engaged Art Symposium – How to design arts-based methods for environmental conflict mediation and dialogical art symposium as conversational art that has social and societal impact

I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Lapland Faculty of Art and Design. My presentation is about International Socially Engaged Art Symposium (ISEAS), which has been held three times in Finland Raseborg in 2017–19 and about the next Symposium in August 2020 which will be in Lapland with the theme Mediation In Northern fragile environment together with artists and natural scientists. My research is arts-based action research (ABAR) that aims to develop the International Socially Engaged Art Symposium (ISEAS) I have created. ABAR has been developed in the University of Lapland along with Professors Mirja Hiltunen and Timo Jokela, artist-researcher Maria Huhmarniemi and others. Jokela (2019) presents the methodology ABAR as part of the international debate on art-based education research (ABER). He presents ABAR as an inclusive and dialogic approach. ABAR is emerging from reflection on the transformational pressures of art education, inspired by the dialogue and the need for ABAR as a tool for culturally decolonizing, sustainable art education through contemporary art practices in multidisciplinary collaboration. My research follows the principles of action research (Arslan-Ari et al., 2020) which aims to develop conversational art in socially engaged art.

In my research and my work as a curator and artist of the event, I have chosen themes which are characterized by activism and political influence. The posthumanist (Demos 2016, 2017; Morton, 2016) mindset sees man impacting the state of the environment so critically that one can speak of a global catastrophe caused by humans to the entire planet. The themes of the symposium have been related to environmental issues and the possibility of art to open a discussion with science at the local level on the topic. What matters to me is making art that has a purpose. Art and activism often go hand in hand. Influencing social issues and, in my case, environmental policy issues has been my motivation for doing this art and research. I believe that artistic research has meaning and potential to influence the reality in which the whole world now lives.

My sub-questions have dealt with these themes:
How to curate an artist symposium in the Anthropocene era?
What kind of power relations are formed between the participants and between the participants and the community?
What ethical issues and choices are involved in producing socially engaged art and science symposium?
How does the science and art symposium function as a state of learning, empowerment and strengthening of functional capacity, towards environmentally conscious action?