Traces from the anthropocene: Working with Soil & Insects among Us

Climate change has raised general awareness of the impact of human activity on the environment. Ecological degradation induced by anthropogenic factors such as microplastics, contamination of the soil or the successive disappearance of pollinating insects have become major sources of concern. Under the umbrella title Traces from the Anthropocene, this research cell addresses the social and ecological consequences of human footprint through art. The work proceeds within two parallel subprojects entitled Working with Soil and Insects among Us.

Working with Soil -project understands craft making as a valuable embodied practice through which to (re)consider the relationship between human and nature. In this transdisciplinary research, we aim to explore the human imprint to the geological environment with artistic methods combined with chemical analysis. The context of this study is the contaminated sediments of the Venice lagoon. The project builds on a collaboration with professional artist-researchers from Aalto University’s Department of Design and the experts of contaminated soil from the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.

Insects among Us targets cultural practices that emerge from encounters between humans and insects. Drawing from methods of insect observation and the history of entomology, our project considers conditions of visibility from an ontological perspective. The work results in a series of experiential visual and audio installations that make manifest the fragility of our socially constructed lifeworld.


Cell initiators: Maarit Mäkelä, Aalto ARTS Helsinki and Tuula Närhinen. UNIARTS Helsinki

Hoverfly performing a breakdance in the Wing Beats karaoke booth.

The Insect-project sets out to explore the deep sense of otherness that encounters with an insect or other arthropods might trigger in human beings.

Working with Soil. Gathering soil samples for the use of ceramic art practice.


The Working with Soil -project investigates human traces from the soil samples in Venice Lagoon and brings the contaminated material part of the art practice that is shown during the Research Pavilion #3 in Venice.