Accelerate Finland residency starts remotely

When I close my eyes, I imagine a beautiful topography, not ever seen by any human, raising from the landscape. Unreal shapes, large but soft bodies of gamma radiations fading into the forest canopy. The shapes follow the features of the scenery result of radioactive decay in the bedrock. 

The interest of Erich Berger in radiogenic phenomena, geological processes and the time scales from deep time to deep futures are behind his project called Spectral Landscapes. In 2019 he sent his proposal to the Accelerate Award Call, and was selected the Accelerate Finland artist-residency, hosted by Arts at CERN in Geneva.

The pandemic and the closure of the CERN research facilities and laboratories have caused the delay of the physical residency, but Erich has been able to start dialoging with CERN scientists remotely, attending a series of meetings, kindly organized by Monica Bello, the Head of Arts at CERN arts program. 

The conversations online have been fruitful and orientated Berger´s on-going research, that started already in 2013 during a visit to Enontekiö in Sápmi, the Northern sub-arctic part of Finland.

Kovela research site, Finland, 2020. Photos Till Bovermann.

In 2020 his fieldwork has continued in different sites such as Kovela in southern Finland and Palkiskuru in Sápmi, by scanning the radioactive mineralisations at these sites with a sophisticated DIY sensor device.  The device allows to record the geo-located intensity of the gamma radiation of the site, on the ground by walking and in the air by being mounted on a drone. The collected data permit Berger to portray the gamma radiation fields as bodies which protrude from the radioactive base-rock as intricate but intrinsic features of the landscape. The first artistic results have been shown in the group exhibition ‘Splitting the Atom’ at CAC in Vilnius in 2020 and shortly in the group show Alter(action) that will take place at the Fundação Eugénio de Almeida in Evora this spring.  

Spectral Landscapes, 2020. The Kovela survey site as shown on the image has a size of about 500m x 200m. Image: Erich Berger

Scanning the sites involves “hours of walking and exploring: meditative and solitary days and enjoyable walks outdoors” as Berger says. 

The on site residency at CERN laboratory is now planned for fall 2021.

Meanwhile the snow melts and the Finnish landscape topography is recognizable again, allowing Berger’s field work to continue . 

Accelerate Finland is organized in partnership between Arts at CERN, in Geneva, and Capsula (art-science-nature) with the support of Saastamoinen Foundation and The Committee for Public Information (TJNK). 

Accelerete Finland awardee selected

Spectral Landscapes_image artsatcern and jyrki autio

European Laboratory of Particle Physics CERN and Palkiskuru in Sápmi, the Northern sub-arctic part of Finland. Photo: Arts at CERN and Jyrki Autio.

Accelerate Finland Call for Entries closed on 4thNovember and the jury, comprised of Monica Bello, head and curator of Arts at CERN, Sabine Himmelsbach, director and curator of HeK (Haus der Electronischen Künste, Basel), Helga Timko, physicist from CERN and Ulla Taipale, curator at Capsula have decided to award among the 43 applicants the research proposal by Austrian, Helsinki-based artist Erich Berger.

erich_berger_field_work_photo Liisa Luohela

Erich Berger, photo by Liisa Luohela.

Spectral Landscapes by Erich Berger proposes a fascinating and poetic artistic research combining two very alien and contrasted sites and landscapes, the vast natural open space with a uranium ore in sub-arctic Finland and the huge, man-made science facilities of European Laboratory of Particle Physics CERN, in Geneva. The project continues Berger´s long-term artistic research on deep time and radiogenic phenomena, aiming at discovering naturally-occurring radioactive processes produced in a landscape and how they can be captured by detection techniques.

Arts at CERN and Capsula thank all the applicants for their dedication and interests towards to this unique possibility to dedicate one month´s period for artistic exploration at CERN, and Saastamoinen Foundation and The Committee of Public Information (TJNK) for supporting Capsula with the Accelerate Finland Call for Entries.

Erich Berger will start his residency at CERN in spring 2020, combining the summer and autumn season with research periods both in Geneva and in Enontekiö in Sápmi,  the Northern sub-arctic part of  Finland.