Anu Osva

Presentation on art and science cooperation in Kilpisjärvi

This presentation will introduce Kilpisjärvi, ArsBioARCTICA and our recent projects to the audience at the Energy Festival in Riga.  
Kilpisjärvi is located in an arctic, subalpine birch forest zone characterised by mountains and broad treeless areas. It is a village of 100 people, a school, a supermarket, a highway to Norway. Approximately 40 000 tourists visit the area annually and there is a customs crossing. Reindeer herders have communities outside the village.
For the last 60 years, the area has been a target of systematic biological research.  Today Helsinki University’s Kilpisjärvi Biological Station is the centre of these activities, bringing scientists and students to Kilpisjärvi from different universities in Finland and around the world.  They stay at the station from a couple of weeks to a few months and often return the following year. 
This is the context for the ArsBioARCTICA cooperation programme between artists, biologists and other scientists. ArsBioARCTICA is run by the Finnish Bioart Society together with the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station.
In summer 2009, the activities were started with an international project on climate change. Kilpisjärvi was one of nodes in the 80+1 A Journey Around the World –a project by Ars Electronica Centre (Linz, AU).  The Finnish Bioart Society arranged a  seminar,  produced  two artworks and an art&scince video screening related to the climate change was curated. About 15 scientists, one reindeer herder, 13 artists, 7 other specialists, and 3 biology students were involved.  The scientists attending the seminar were from 11 different research institutes.
During one day, water fleas were in focus. This presentation discusses the multidisciplinary process from shared interest to the presentation of the Water Flea Circus.  It asks if it is possible to share a mental space, where borders between different disciplines are diluted, at least temporarily. The presentation also shows how Midnight Sun was transmitted from arctic Kilpisjärvi as a live stream to the media-facade of a museum in Central Europe.


Anu Osva is a Finnish artist with scientific background in animal breeding research.  In 1999 she started to combine scientific thinking and observations into her artistic work.  In artworks – paintings or objects - genetic layers are mixed with random layers of oil colors, observations on nature, cultural or historical layers, or layers related to our belief systems. Genetic information, dna code, has diverged from its physical appearance and transformed into color matrices and pearl –like structures.
Among Osva’s recent works is the project Yakutian cattle – A Research Expedition to Siberia in 2000’s. She participated 2005 a field trip to North-East Siberia together with a socio-cultural research team from Helsinki University.  The target was three isolated, small villages, where endangered, genetically unique Yakutian Cattle still lives as a population of 900 animals.  In her art project Osva is investigating this cattle as companion species and  co-travellers for humans in harsh, arctic environment. She is the co-writer in two articles and author of the artistic epilogue in the book Sakha Ynaga – A Cattle of the Yakuts  (in press). Osva has had several exhibitions in Finland and she has also displayed her works in international venues in Iceland, Sweden, Croatia and Belgium.
Currently Osva is working for the Ars BioaARCTICA program in Kilpisjärvi, Lapland. It is an art and science program in cooperation with the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, University of Helsinki.