The exhibition Down in the Bog – Sporulation dives into the ecosystems of peatlands

On 14 June, the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) will open the international group exhibition Down in the Bog – Sporulation, in which participating artists, designers, and natural scientists encourage the visitor to think about and together with the ecosystems of peatlands. The exhibition is curated by Karolin Tampere, a Norwegian curator with Estonian roots.

The second project of EKKM’s 2024 season brings together representatives of different disciplines who are rethinking the cultural, historical and contemporary changes in the peatlands of Northern Norway / Sàpmi, Estonia and other selected regions. Visitors can experience the work of Ensayos, an international nomadic feminist research group that through scent, sounds and objects explore themes centred on the prevention of extinction, interspecies dialogues and memory. Artist Hilde Hauan Johnson presents a large-scale textile work that was coloured with dyes from plants collected from border areas in Sàpmi. For their joint video piece, Ingrid Bjørnaali, Maria Simmons and Fabian Lanzmaier used various devices to make field recordings of bogs, based on which they created 3D models and landscapes inspired by the technical glitches which, in their eyes, express the unique characteristics of bogs. Kristina Norman’s work, first exhibited in the Estonian pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, visualises the capitalist thirst for peat mining and emphasises the connections between the Estonian bogs and the global orchid market. Norwegian artists Geir Tore Holm and Søssa Jørgensen have given form to the knowledge they gained from researching Sami reindeer herders in the Setesdal areas in an audiovisual work that interweaves video footage with a musical composition of Hardanger fiddle and yoik – a traditional Sami vocal tradition. Estonian artist Eike Eplik and artist Søssa Jørgensen from Norway present new works created especially for the exhibition. The exhibition opens with a spoken word performance by Geir Tore Holm.

In addition to the exhibition, curator Karolin Tampere has begun a collaboration with cultural geographer Piret Pungas-Kohv and the Estonian Fund for Nature, which will produce an archival work on the history and perceptions of the local peatlands. The site-specific design of the archive was created by artist Caitlin Franzmann and it includes the presentation of an excerpt of a new video by Magnus Skei Holmen. Inspired by Villu Järmut’s and Enn Kärmas’ activist posters from the 1980s, Tampere has encouraged three designers – Brit Pavelson, Else Lagerspetz and Jaan Evart – to design new posters advocating the protection of Estonian peatlands.

An important part of the exhibition is the accompanying public programme, which elaborates on the themes discussed in the exhibition works and offers participants a chance to think along in workshops and nature tours. The activities provide a multi-sensory experience where sound, touch and smell become the central mediums for passing on experience and knowledge. On the exhibition’s opening weekend Saturday, 15 June, at 5 pm, the museum will hold a scent workshop led by artist Simon Daniel Tegnander Wenzel. Using his own olfactory works, Wenzel will share how to train one’s sense of smell to recognise the surrounding environment. In particular, he will discuss Geosmin and how the generating of a ‘happiness hormone’ is something to be found in relation to rain, bacteria, soil and humidity.

At the exhibition opening, there will be a presentation of scents from peatlands by Ensayos and a performance by the artist Geir Tore Holm. The opening party is hosted by the Kabelvogue collective from Northern Norway and DJ’s Muggen and Sanj with special guest DJ Ellen Vene.

Schedule of opening events on 14 June (the exhibition is open until 10 pm):
5 pm Exhibition tour with participating artists and curator (in English)
6.30 pm Opening speeches
7 pm Kabelvogue DJs: Sanj B2B Muggen with special guest DJ Ellen Vene (until 11 pm)
7.30 pm Geir Tore Holm’s performance Šuo, suu, soo

The exhibition Down in the Bog – Sporulation will be open Wed–Sun from 12 to 7 pm until 1 September 2024. The exhibition that will open on 14 June is the second chapter from Tampere’s three-part project Down in the Bog – Thinking with Peatlands.

The exhibition is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Tallinn Culture and Sports Department, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, The Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme, the British Council, AkzoNobel, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø Kunstforening/Romssa Dáiddasiida (TKF), Nordic Hotel Forum, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norwegian Crafts.