Katie Paterson has been selected for the 2021 IMHE Helsinki Commission. Paterson will present To Burn, Forest, Fire. The work will consist of the scent of the first-ever forest on earth and the scent of the last forest of the age of climate crisis, made into incense and then burned across a variety of sites around the city of Helsinki.
The artist writes: “I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen as IHME’s commissioned artist for 2021 and fully support their current direction.
My fundamental drive is to create artwork that heightens awareness of the sixth extinction the world is living through. We share a quarter of our DNA with trees, they are our life source, yet Earth has lost more than half of its trees since humans first started cutting them down. We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years. I believe that the planet and all the life it supports are deeply interconnected, and we can face up to the climate catastrophe more effectively when we use our senses and connect on an emotional, intuitive level.
In creating To Burn, Forest, Fire, my hope is that participants in Helsinki will be transported back in time by this ritualistic artwork, that through their senses they will be reminded of the increasing levels of extinction caused by humanity, whilst simultaneously being carried forward into this futuristic scenario – a place I hope we will never get to – encouraging people to act now.”
IHME is a contemporary art organization that situates its activities in a dialogue between art and science. IHME’s core activity is the annual staging of a new artwork, together with an artist and Finnish and foreign partners, in public space in Finland and abroad. Contemporary art is a constantly changing, active pursuit. It not only mirrors the world, but also shapes it. Art gives us a chance to do things differently and it has the power to change the way people think. IHME commissions extend beyond the everyday and suggest possible worlds and new meanings.