Amar Kanwar’s IHME Helsinki 2022 Commission to be run again in September 2023

Image of Amar Kanwar's IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 screen shot of a log in page, tree in a field
Screenshot of Amar Kanwar’s IHME Helsinki 2022 Commission, Learning from Doubt online course’s log in page.

We are pleased to announce that Indian artist Amar Kanwar’s IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 will be held once again in September 2023, at our partners’ request. The Learning from Doubt online course is being run as a multidisciplinary collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki and HELSUS, the Institute of Sustainability Science at the University of Helsinki. A group of students from the Center for Environmental Humanities at Aarhus University in Denmark will also take part.

IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 is a ten-part online course based on Kanwar’s artistic method. Its starting point is Kanwar’s set of works The Sovereign Forest, which he has been working on for almost twenty years. The course covers the experiments on ecological sustainability for a unique rice seed bank in the village of Narisho in Odisha, India, as well as experiences of making and performing The Sovereign Forest installation. Key questions are the definitions of crime and evidence, and whether poetry can serve as evidence in a court.

The students at Helsus, who worked on, discussed and studied Amar Kanwar and his work together with students from the Academy of Fine Arts, told us that the course made Indian reality tangible to them. The course made them think in new ways about the concept of evidence, and about the themes of the bystander and guilt. The course also succeeded in creating strong emotional connections. Helsus wants to be part of the collaboration between science and art for understanding and resolving environmental issues, and to give the students that opportunity,

says Janna Pietikäinen, Vice Dean, academic affairs and sustainability, at the University of Helsinki.

Hanna Johansson, Dean of the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki, outlines the significance of Amar Kanwar’s course:

It is important to give students at the Academy of Fine Arts an opportunity to participate in Amar Kanwar’s Learning from Doubt course together with Helsus students. The course opens up new opportunities for learning, for collaboration between art and science, and extends the potential of art to have an influence. Above all, the course brings students face to face with different ecological and social realities so as to reflect on their own contribution to changing the world.

In addition to Amar Kanwar, the course is being co-taught by Docent Viktor Pal from the University of Helsinki and artist and researcher Henna Laininen from the Academy of Fine Arts. This is the second time that Pal is co-teacher on the course.

The course offers a unique opportunity to investigate and discuss any topic seen as being relevant, and related to “crime”. The course material and interactions with the artist will help us ask questions, to further, and to seek deeper connections,

says Viktor Pal.

The course is an opportunity to learn from the inspirational thinking of contemporary Indian artist Amar Kanwar about our scope for action and the role of art in the ecological crisis. Students can concurrently develop their own artistic thinking in dialogue with Kanwar and other students. The course enables cross-disciplinary cooperation between students of the Academy of Fine Arts and students of the University of Helsinki,

says Henna Laininen.

Students of the University of Helsinki and the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki can apply for the course. More information about the course and how to apply can be found on the universities’ websites.

Course website at University of Helsinki Course website at the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of Arts Helsinki

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