Traces from the Anthropocene: Working with Soil in Research Pavilion #3 in Venice

The evolving exhibition addresses the concerns of soil contamination. Aalto artist-researchers set up a research laboratory in Venice.
Kaksi naistaiteilijaa luomassa keramiikkataidetta Venetsian tutkimuspaviljongissa. Yksi istuu kuvan etualalla tuolilla ja tekee korkeaa maljakon muotoista esinettä, jossa näkyy hennosti naisen kasvot. Toinen henkilö on kuvassa taaempana, vähän kumartuneena, luoden isoa kulhoa.
Processed soil from the Venice lagoon turns into ceramics in the Research Pavilion

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. Traces from the Anthropocene: Working with Soil is a multidisciplinary research project that addresses the ecological consequences of human footprint through ceramic art. The evolving research project takes place before and during the Research Pavilion that is on display in the context of the Venice Biennale 2019, the world’s best-known contemporary art event.

As ceramists traditionally work with local earth the research is situated in the local environment of the Biennale, the Venice lagoon area. The research is led by Aalto ARTS Design department and executed by an international group of artist-researchers. During the process local soil is gathered and analyzed for anthropogenic contaminants in Aalto CHEM laboratory. Local Italian brick clay is used to coil large ceramic forms and finally the analyzed, contaminated soil is used to paint the ceramic vessels. In this project craft making is understood as a philosophical space to think through the ethical and ecological concerns related to the stage of the environment.

Aalto artist-researchers will be working at the Research Pavilion July 11 – August 28, 2019. During the working period, audience is invited to engage with clay. Material Encounters on August 20–21, 2019 is a two day event that invites public to join the researchers for discussions, screenings and material engagement.

Read more about the project on Empirica webpage:

Follow the project on Research Catalogue:


Contact: Maarit Mäkelä, Professor, Department of Design

Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture +358 50 3722168

[email protected]


Research Pavilion #3: Research Ecologies

The Research Pavilion is an ongoing project created and hosted by University of the Arts Helsinki. Research Pavilion #3 is created in cooperation with the Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation and international partner institutions: Aalto University, Valand Academy of Arts at the University of Gothenburg, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Interlab Hongik University Seoul, and Taipei National University of the Arts.

9 May – 28 August 2019, from 10am until 6pm, visitors can meet artist-researchers between 10am and noon. Closed on Tuesdays. Free admission.

The full programme is available here:


Research Pavilion #3

Sala del Camino, Campo S. Cosmo, Giudecca, 621 Venice

Research Pavilion website:
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