Kumu Conference: Rethinking Cultures of Environmentalism in Eastern and Northern Europe 14/09/2023 – 15/09/2023

Tallinn University
Registration deadline is September 12

Kumu Conference: Rethinking Cultures of Environmentalism in Eastern and Northern Europe

The conference will take place in the Kumu Art Museum auditorium on 14 September and at Tallinn University on 15 September.

A new wave of scholarly writing on the histories of environmentalism has significantly broadened our understanding of the ways of being environmentally aware, demonstrating the wide dissemination of diverse environmental practices and ideas across different societies and regimes, ideologies and belief systems, practices, discourses and genres.

This conference asks how recent scholarly discussions and creative practices have changed the perspective on intersections of culture and environmentalism in Eastern and Northern Europe. What does the new research on these regions have to add to the broader discussions? We are aiming at creating occasions for transnational and transdisciplinary comparisons that will create connections between different cultures and genres (visual, literary etc.), and extend beyond methodological nationalism. How did knowledge and practices transfer between regions and across socio-political regimes? In the face of the current wave of decolonisation, how do we conceptualise the relationships between the East and the West, as well as Nordic and Eastern European relations to indigenous peoples?

The two-day conference is divided into eight panels in which scholars and art practitioners from different fields examine such topics as global histories, environmentalism and activism, indigeneity, slow technologies, gender, and the role of artistic, literary and cultural practices in these areas.

Programme at Kumu Art Museum

Venue: Kumu Art Museum, auditorium

September 13


17:00  Guided tour at the exhibition Through the Black Gorge of Your Eyes by Maria Arusoo (Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art), curator of the exhibition
(NB! gathering at the ticket office)

18:00 Kumu Documentary: screening of Aral: Fishing in an Invisible Sea (2004) by Saodat Ismailova
Introduction by Ann Mirjam Vaikla (Kumu Art Museum)

September 14

09:45-10:00  Opening remarks

10:00-12:00 I panel: Globalising histories of environment and environmentalism

Viktor Pal (University of Helsinki): Orbán’s View on Nature: The State and its environment in Modern Hungary
Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Postsocialist Art Centre UCL): A System in which many worlds fit: Plural environmentalisms of the Socialist Anthropocene
Ann Mirjam Vaikla (Kumu Art Museum): How I feel my body, 2’: Interweaving decolonial and environmental position

Discussant and moderator: Kati Lindström (KTH, Royal Institute of Technology)

12:00-12:30 Coffee break

12:30-14:30 II panel: Gender and environmentalism across genres 

Liisa Kaljula (Art Museum of Estonia): The Depiction of Abject in Late Soviet Estonian Art
Ingrid Ruudi (Estonian Academy of Arts): A More Caring Environment? Acknowledging the Spatial Needs of the Most Vulnerable in Transitional and Post-Soviet Estonia
Taru Elfving (Contemporary Art Archipelago): Unruly Lines of Ecological Feminism

Discussant and moderator: Julia Kuznetski (Tallinn University)

14:30-15:30 Lunch

15:30-17:30 III panel: Thinking through indigeneity and environmentalism

Jaanika Vider (University of Vienna): Indigeneity and (Em)placement: a View Through Estonian ‘Foreign Ethnology’ Collections
Art Leete (University of Tartu): Those Who Don’t Know Anything about it
Valts Ernštreits (University of Latvia Livonian Institute): 80 Years Later: Relationships Between the Indigenous Livonian Community and the Historical Land They Have Been Expelled From

Discussant and moderator: Linda Kaljundi (Estonian Academy of Arts / Tallinn University)

18:00-19:00 Guided tour at the exhibition Art in the Age of the Anthropocene by Linda Kaljundi (Estonian Academy of Arts / Tallinn University) and Ulrike Plath (Tallinn University), curators of the exhibition

18:30-21:00 Opening of the exhibition The Art of Adapting in Kadriorg Art Museum

19:30 Johhan Rosenberg’s performance at the opening

PDF: Abstracts

Programme at Tallinn University

Venue: Tallinn University, Astra building, A325

September 15 

10:00-12:00 IV panel: Activism: change and continuity

Anita Zarina and Artis Svece (University of Latvia): From Naturalness to Coexistence: Contemporary Nature Conservation Discourses in Latvia
Joonas Plaan (Tallinn University): Discursive Approach on Nature: Contemporary Environmentalism and NGOs
Timo Maran (University of Tartu): Semiotic Engagement in the Multispecies World

Discussant and moderator: Ulrike Plath (Tallinn University)

12:00-12:30 Coffee break

12:30-14:30 V panel: Roots and Shades of Green Spirituality

Ulrike Plath  (Tallinn University): Anthroposophical Roots of Green Thinking in Manfred Kyber’s Work
Tõnno Jonuks (Estonian Literary Museum / Tallinn University) and Atko Remmel (University of Tartu / Tallinn University): Spiritualisation of Environmentalism in Estonia
Evy Jokhova (artist): Process, Participation, Bonding

Discussant and moderator: Kadri Tüür (Tallinn University)

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-16:30 VI panel: After nature: merging of technological and natural environments

Elle-Mari Talivee (Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences): Environmental Microhistories and Grand Narratives in North-East Estonia
Elnara Taidre (Art Museum of Estonia): Fusion of Organic and Inorganic in the Graphic Artwork of Vello Vinn

Discussant and moderator: Jaak Tomberg (University of Tartu)

PDF: Abstracts


Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn University (research project Estonian Environmentalism in the Long Twentieth Century) and Estonian Academy of Arts (Institute of Art History and Visual Culture)

Head of programme: Linda Kaljundi
Organising committee:
Maria Arusoo, Ulrike Plath, Elle-Mari Talivee, Eda Tuulberg and Kadri Tüür
Coordinators: Magdaleena Maasik and Annika Toots