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The trip to Venice—in the words of the students

Contemporary design students spent a week in Venice setting up the exhibition and gathering soil samples for the research.
Sediment sampling in the historical centre of Venice with the Limnos sampler provided by the Finnish Environmental Institute SYKE. Image: Pauliina Purhonen
Sediment sampling in the historical centre of Venice with the Limnos sampler provided by the Finnish Environmental Institute SYKE. Image: Pauliina Purhonen

At the start of May 2019, the Working with Soil group travelled to Venice during the opening week of the Venice Biennale. The purpose of the trip was to immerse ourselves in the research project experience as well as to set up the opening exhibition for The Research Pavilion on Giudecca Island in Venice. The week we spent in Venice setting up the exhibition and gathering soil samples for the research was very educational for all of us.

As it was our first visit to the area, we were able to see the surface as a first-time visitor would. Then we dove deep into the hard environmental facts about the area. Travelling around on the wavy ‘streets’ and ‘highways’ of Venice while picking up soil samples gave us a rather different way of experiencing the city. For example, Murano Island is a devastating yet strangely very beautiful example of how overconsumption can influence the environment. The fact that the area was built upon glass manufacturing waste discarded into the sea became clear to us as we took a closer look at the soil. Even though the ecological state of the area felt quite extreme at times, Venice is clearly not alone with its environmental problems.

Collecting ceramics in Venice. Image: Riikka Latva-Somppi
Collecting ceramics in Venice. Image: Riikka Latva-Somppi

The trip made it possible for us to better understand the complexity and larger picture of a continuously evolving research project. The story began in Finland, and became real during the days we spent in Venice. By observing the entire exhibition setup process by six different groups from all around the world, we were able to contrast our approach with several other approaches. During the week we faced difficulties and setbacks, but in the end our exhibition was even better than the mock-ups we had built beforehand. The ongoing exhibition invites people to explore the research process and aims to reveal the complex relationship us humans have with nature.

Text: MA Students Tzuyu Chen, Hanna Kutvonen and Pauliina Purhonen

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This content belongs to Student Takeover on Unfolded. The Curating and Storytelling course have created visual and textual essays about the first academic year of the MA Contemporary Design.

Traces from the Antropocene exhibition in Venice Biennale in 2019. Photo: Tzuyu Chen

Traces from the Anthropocene. Working with Soil.

A multidisciplinary research project that addresses the ecological consequences of the human footprint through ceramic art. The exhibition is a part of Venice Biennale during summer 2019.

Events
Coiling vases from the local earthenware and painting the vases with the local earth in Earth Laboratory, Venice, August 2019. Photo: Catharina Kajander

Working with contaminated soil in Venice

Revealing human traces in Venice Biennale.

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