Boys with Lasso, John Savio, between 1928 and 1938
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet/Børre Høstland
The Sweetness of Living:
The symposium will take place digitally through Zoom. Please register your interest to receive details of the meeting. The working language is English.
Register for the event here.
det gode liv // The Sweetness of Living is a networking, knowledge exchange, and experience-sharing artistic research and contemporary art project that begins in February 2021 and extends into the long-term future.
The research takes its inspiration from the publication Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale (2018) by Matt Hern and Am Johal, where the authors investigate philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s invocation of Alexandre Kojeve’s phrase ‘la dolce vita’.
These ideas describe a common attitude in Spain, Italy, and southern Europe that is claimed to be qualitatively different from the Protestant work ethic of northern European countries. Agamben’s claim is that this attitude describes a wholly different relationship to the future, a recovery of time, a resistance to capitalism, and the preservation of a significant way of living: in short, the capacity to define life as something outside of work.
det gode liv // The Sweetness of Living builds on these gestures, investigating and challenging what ‘the sweetness of life’ represents specifically in the Barents region / the nordic countries and north-west Russia / Sápmi. The project is grounded in the belief that the topic has become an urgent cultural question following the events of 2020, when the present societal changes taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic have urged a radical re-configuration of the priorities of life and living.
The project begins by opening up the topic through three artworks and through several discursive, performative, and processual responses under The Sweetness of Living Symposium.
10:00 – Welcome
10:10 – TALK: ‘Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life’ + Live Q&A
Matt Hern and Am Johal
Matt Hern and Am Johal introduce their research process and some of the key questions that inspired their 2018 publication, Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale (MIT Press), where the authors set out to propose a new understanding of ecology that links the domination of the other-than-human world to the domination of humans by humans. They argue that any definition of ecology has to start with decolonization and that confronting global warming requires a politics that speaks to a different way of being in the world, and a reconstituted understanding of the sweetness of life. Their lecture stitches together their experience with their current thinking, as well as their speculations on new considerations of community and friendship.
11:30 – Audio-Visual Collaboration: Sirutumine
Vera Dvale & Silje Linge Haaland
The collaboration between Silje Linge Haaland and Vera Dvale is nurtured by an audio and visual exchange based on play, intuition and sensing, and where animated moving images are connected through sound. Sirutumine is the title of one of the pieces of music in the video work BLANT by Linge Haaland, and it now becomes the title of this new meeting point. Based on the video work, Vera Dvale introduces a live sound collection where new combinations of her compositions are connected to the images. The material consists of both individual and collaborative productions.
12:00 – TALK: More than survival: weaving vulnerabilities, questioning certainties, mobilising resilience. On low-trophic theories-practices for a more-than-human world + LIVE Q&A
Marietta Radomska & Cecilia Åsberg
How can we think and act from within multiple crises? What does the sweetness of living mean in the times of environmental and social disruption? The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic sheds light on environmental violence, injustice, socio-economic inequalities, more-than-human entanglements and an ethico-political call for action. This talk offers low-trophic theories-practices as a way to rethink and reimagine both our present(s) and future(s) in the care-ful and situated registers of more-than-human ethics for a multispecies world.
13:00 – FORUM: A roundtable discussion with curator Neal Cahoon and artists: Riikka Keränen, Matti Aikio, and Espen Sommer Eide
14:00 – VIDEOPOEM: Gadus morhua
Line Thastum & Sissel Thastum
Gadus morhua is a meditative endeavour; an invitation to the audience to come closer to the cod fish, its element and our connection to other beings within the perspective of deep time and our common origin from the ocean. Gadus morhua explores and emphasises the vibrance and agency of all matter. It shows the growth of a biocrystallization of the codfish alongside poetic and philosophical reflections on our entangled being-in-the-world. Gadus morhua is an excerpt of the larger ongoing project Kin.
Am Johal is Director of Simon Fraser University’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement in Vancouver, Canada on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleilwaututh peoples. He is author of ‘Ecological Metapolitics: Badiou and the Anthropocene’ and co-author with Matt Hern and Joe Sacco of ‘Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale.’ He has a doctorate in media philosophy from the European Graduate School.
Matt Hern is the founder and co-director of Solid State Community Industries, a project that builds worker co-ops with youth from racialized migrant families. He has founded and directed many other community projects and his books have been translated into sixteen languages.
Cecilia Åsberg, Prof Dr (KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm and Linköping University); Founding director The Posthumanities Hub (2008-on); The Seed Box: Environmental Humanities (2013-2017), & Rachel Carson Centre Fellow at LMU. Publications: Åsberg & Marietta Radomska (2021) in Violence, Gender and Affect (eds Marita Husso et al); Åsberg (2020) “A Sea Change in the Environmental Humanities”, Ecocene: Cappadocia Journal of Environmental Humanities; “Checking in with Deep Time” (2020) with Christina Fredengren, in Deterritorializing the Future (Open Humanities Press).
Marietta Radomska, PhD, is Research Fellow in Environmental Humanities at Department of Thematic Studies (Gender Studies), Linköping University, SE; co-director of The Posthumanities Hub; founder of The Eco- and Bioart Research Network; co-founder of Queer Death Studies Network; author of Uncontainable Life: A Biophilosophy of Bioart (2016) and has published in Australian Feminist Studies; Somatechnics; Women, Gender & Research and Artnodes, among others. Web: www.mariettaradomska.com
The Posthumanities Hub is a research group and a platform for postdisciplinary and more-than-human humanities, for philosophy, arts and sciences informed by advanced cultural critique and creativity. In our research, we specialise in the more-than-human condition and inventive feminist materialist philosophies. We work to meet up with pressing societal challenges, across the natureculture divide and target specific cases. Curiously, creatively and critically. The Hub is hosted by KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm and Linköping University, Sweden. Web: https://posthumanities.net/
Vera Dvale – seamstress of nocturnal synaesthetics, weaver of worlds of spatial immersion- is occasionally producing and releasing music. Recent output is «Music is Kinship» (Good Morning Tapes) and in March a new release, «Garden of Feelings», is presented on the new label In the Neighborhood of the Sun, the Moon and the Stars (INSMS).
Silje Linge Haaland (b. 1984, Bergen) lives and works in Oslo She works with video, text, sculpture and choreography. In recent years, she has worked on an extensive project entitled Hjernen er for nær munnen. Linge Haaland graduated from Gerrit Rietveld in Amsterdam, the Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo and Städelschule in Frankfurt. In the spring of 2018, she completed a one-year specialization in text at the Writing Arts Academy in Bergen.
The Independent Air http://www.theindependentair.com/
The Independent Air is a Danish non-profit art organisation focusing on creating environmentally sustainable cultural projects as group residencies, master classes, exhibitions, symposiums, seminars and workshops in Denmark, Scandinavia and internationally . The main theme of the activities are the increasing ecological and social crises the world is facing and how art and culture can address this through collaborations on many levels. The Independent Air work towards change through strengthening community values, transdisciplinary dialog and development with art as the focal point.
Sissel Thastum http://www.sisselthastum.com/
Sissel Thastum (DK b. 1987) is a photo based visual artist. She holds a MFA from Trondheim Academy of Fine Art and a BA in documentary photography from University Newport, Wales. She primarily works with video, photography, sound and spatial installations. Sissel is the co-founder of The Independent Air and has run the organization since 2013 together with Line Thastum.
Line Thastum (DK b. 1959) Environmental coordinate, BA in Human Ecology, Aalborg University, educated organic farmer and alternative therapist. Beside her work with green transition and environmental management in Herning Municipality in Denmark, she works creatively with writing. Line is co-founder of The Independent Air and has run the organization since 2013 together with Sissel Thastum.
Matti Aikio (Sámi/FI) is an MA graduate from Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art. He comes from a Sámi reindeer herding family and still practices reindeer herding part-time. Aikio works mainly with photography and video as well as with sculptural installations, sound art, and music. Aikio explores the phenomenon where Sámi people find themselves caught in the middle of opposing nation state run nature politics – where the Sámi people’s land is roughly speaking seen either as a resource for extraction, or strict nature reserve that has to be protected also from the Sámi people and their livelihoods. Aikio attempts to understand the deeper questions of what this phenomenon is a sign of, and he will open out these conversations, as a way of shifting perspectives. Matti is one of the Exhibition artists at this year’s Barents Spektakel.
Riikka Keränen (FI) is a visual artist and farmer from Ristijärvi in the Kainuu region of Finland. She graduated with a degree in sculpture from the Kankaanpää School of Fine Art in 2010. Keränen’s work involves playing and thinking in dialogue with the entire spectrum of the world’s materials. Through her work, the artist reflects upon the entangled nature between human and other-than-human worlds. Keränen is at the beginning of a research process for a work connected to the det gode liv // The Sweetness of Living.
Espen Sommer Eide (NO) is a composer and artist based in Bergen, Norway. Using music and sound as both method and medium, his artistic practice involves long-term engagement with specific landscapes, archives, languages and rhythms, with an experimental approach to local and embodied knowledge. In addition to installation and performances, he has been a prominent representative of experimental electronic music from Norway, with main projects Alog and Phonophani, and a string of releases on the labels Rune Grammofon, FatCat and Hubro. Espen is at the beginning of his research process for a work connected to the det gode liv // The Sweetness of Living. http://www.alog.net/projects