Past event News

Take part in International Day of Forests by holding or following an incense ceremony

To Burn, Forest, Fire incense ceremony at Kumpula Botanical Garden in September 2021. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro.

We welcome you to participate in the work by holding your own incense ceremony with your loved ones at 8:00 PM EEST on the next International Day of Forests, declared by the United Nations on March 21, 2022. IHME has distributed and mailed about 200 incense packages to people interested in the ceremonies in Finland and abroad. The incense package distribution has ended but you can  join the celebration of the International Day of Forests by following the event on IHME’s Instagram with hashtags #IntlForestDay and #ToBurnForestFire.

IHME Helsinki annually produces one new work of contemporary art by an internationally renowned artist in public space. Scottish artist Katie Paterson’s IHME Helsinki Commission 2021 – To Burn, Forest, Fire consists of the scent of the first forest on our planet 385 million years ago and the scent of the last forest in our time of climate crisis. These scents have been transformed into incense and were burned at several different places in Helsinki during September 1 to October 1, 2021.

The artwork is accompanied by a booklet that sets out the scientific background to commission. The essay is by Professor David Haskell of Sewanee: The University of the South, Tennessee, USA. Watch the conversation between David Haskell and Katie Paterson on IHME’s YouTube channel >> 

To hold an incense ceremony, you need:

To Burn, Forest, Fire INCENSE STICKS: Two incense sticks made for Katie Paterson’s artwork To Burn, Forest, Fire, the first forest and the last forest, which you have got from IHME’s event or you have ordered the package by post earlier.

INCENSE HOLDERS: Two incense holders (short cylinders) with a hole for the incense in the middle. (You can also use a large button and put the incense in one of the holes in it, or you can make an incense holder out of cardboard, for example.)

LIGHTER: We recommend electronic lighters or matches.

PEOPLE: Invite family and/or friends and loved ones to share the ceremony with you.

TIME: Set aside an hour. One incense stick burns for about 15–20 minutes, the smell of the incense disappears in about an hour.

To Burn, Forest, Fire – BOOKLET: A booklet comes with the incenses, which describes the scientific background to the artwork. There are diagrams of the incenses at the beginning and end of the booklet indicating what the first and last forests smelt like. You can read the booklet texts together during the ceremony.

What happens at the ceremony at 8–9 pm EEST March 21, 2022?

WATCH: Watch artist Katie Paterson’s welcoming talk on IHME Helsinki’s InstagramLive at 8 p.m. EEST. You can follow the event also without your own ceremony.

IGNITE: First light the incense of the first forest (as written on the incense stick). Let it burn to the end.

IGNITE: Light the incense of the last forest (as written on the incense stick). Let it burn to the end.

TAKE A PICTURE: Take a picture of the moment together and share it on Instagram with the hashtags #IntlForestDay, #ToBurnForestFire, @ihmehelsinki and @katiempaterson.

Remember to ask the participants in the ceremony for permission to share their pictures. You can also photograph only the burning incense.

Thank you for participating!