press release

IHME Contemporary Art Festival 2018
25.05.2018 - 27.05.2018

The annual IHME Contemporary Art Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, produces a commissioned work of art in urban public space with the aim of engaging with diverse audiences. This spring, the Swedish artist Henrik Håkansson will draw our attention to an endangered species of beetle, Hylochares cruentatus. Håkansson’s IHME Project THE BEETLE contributes to discussions on humankind’s role in the loss of biodiversity.

The fate of the rare beetle is dependent on a species of willow that is losing its wetland habitats due to human attempts to prevent flooding in urban environments. Seen from a broader perspective, the mass disappearance of insect species is also a problem on a global scale. 2018’s IHME Project, THE BEETLE, is a film that was shot in summer 2017 in Hylochares cruentatus habitats in Vantaa, Finland. Its soundtrack consists of previously unpublished material by electronic music pioneer Mika Vainio. The film will be premiered as part of the Festival Programme in Helsinki, after which the IHME Project will extend its borders to include the beetle’s habitat in Vantaa, a city which borders Helsinki.

“In choosing this representative of the insect realm less than a centimetre long as his starting point, Håkansson connects his work to urgent issues affecting the relationship between humankind and the environment, climate change, the diversity of species and the planet’s ecological crisis,” says Paula Toppila, the Festival’s Executive Director. In the spirit of the IHME Project, the Festival’s extensive discussion and film programme on May 25–26 will deal with topics including post-humanism, exploring the boundaries between human and non-human beings, the separation of nature and culture, and alternative ethical practices.

Professor Cary Wolfe’s guest lecture will take place during the week before the main event on Thursday, May 17. This event, which will be co-hosted by the University of Helsinki, will deepen the theoretical perspective on political ecology. Wolfe is a Professor of English in Rice University, Houston, Texas, where he leads the Center of Critical and Cultural Theory.

The IHME artist Henrik Håkansson is also one of the Festival’s speakers. On Friday, May 25, he will discuss the commissioned film, its relationship with his earlier works, the representation of animals in art, and how insects have inspired human actions with Professor Jussi Parikka of the University of Southampton, Filipa Ramos, Lecturer in Experimental Film at Kingston University, London, and Professor Jörg Heiser of Berlin University of the Arts.

In addition to the discussions, Håkansson’s specially commissioned work will be augmented by an extensive programme of films on the Festival weekend, May 25–26. The screenings, which deal with themes such as the relationship between humans and the environment, the current and future state of the world, and the representation of other species in art, include Lothar Baumgarten’s Der Ursprung der Nacht (1973–77), Marie-José Burki’s The Film (2017) and Jan Švankmajer’s Insects (2018).