IHME Project

IHME 2018: The Case of a False Click
Beetle: Hylochares cruentatus

#IHME2018 warmly thanks all its participants and partners. Please watch 2018 IHME Project, THE BEETLE by Henrik Håkansson on Yle Areena >>

The Hylochares cruentatus – in Finnish the halavasepikkä [literally: halava =
bay willow, sepikkä = false click beetle] – is less than a centimetre long
and lives on the old Mätäoja riverbed in Vantaa, Finland. According to the
entomologist, Professor Jyrki Muona, the Hylochares cruentatus is an
indigenous insect that has lived in the geographical region now known as
Finland since the end of the last ice age.

The beetle is named after its living environment: the setting for its entire
lifecycle is a rotting species of willow, the halava or bay willow (Salix
pentandra). It also lives on the dark-leaved willow (Salix myrsinifolia), which
is even more restrictedly a floodplain species. It is in this willow species that
it lays its eggs, hatches out as a larva, and inside this willow that it pupates
and then turns into a beetle.

Being a beetle, the life of Hylochares cruentatus or the halavasepikkä lasts
about a week. In Finland wild-growing willow forests have been systematically eradicated: they are tangled, wet and impenetrable. In the
case of the bay willow, dark-leaved willow and Hylochares cruentatus a
crucial factor in their decreasing numbers is that the flooding of rivers that
they need to survive has been prevented, while their favourite areas have
been cleared out and dredged. As a consequence the Hylochares
cruentatus is now classed as being critically endangered, particularly as it
is at present only known to live in part of Vantaa.

Henrik Håkansson met Jyrki Muona and the Hylochares cruentatus on his
first background-work day in Helsinki in December 2016. As a result of
numerous conversations during spring 2017, the Hylochares cruentatus was
given the leading role in of the 2018 IHME Project. Filming of the material
for the forthcoming moving-image work began in June-July 2017, assisted
by Jyrki Muona. The film aims to show the beetle as being of its own
definite kind, and presents the site and the beetle in terms of learned and
experienced facts.The forthcoming IHME Project acquires also billboards
with film stills of the beetle sited near it´s native habitat in Vantaa and
IHME joining the Louhela Jam on June 3rd.

In choosing the Hylochares cruentatus as the starting point for his work,
Henrik Håkansson links it with some major questions about climate change:
species diversity, the relationship between humankind and nature. Insects
have been the most successful class of animals on the planet for millions of
years, but now their populations have radically declined. This is a
particularly worrying observation, since insects play an important role, for
instance, in the food chain of many other species and as pollinators of
plants. The IHME Project, the film entitled THE BEETLE, also has links with
post-humanism, which explores boundaries between human and nonhuman,
the separation of nature and culture, the special status of human
beings in the world and the possibility of breaking away from this, and
alternative ethical practices. In Håkansson’s thinking, nature and culture
cannot be separated: there is a culture of nature and a nature of culture.

The film was shown twice at the Korjaamo Cinema on both festival days, 25 and 26 May 2018. A related exhibition What on earth is
a Hylochares cruentatus?, which was produced in cooperation with
the Finnish Natural History Museum, was also held in Korjaamo Gallery.
Visitors were encouraged to read more about Hylochares cruentatus and see beetle
specimens from Professor Jyrki Muona’s collection.

THE BEETLE film available online

The 2018 IHME Project, Henrik Håkansson’s film THE BEETLE, will be online at
Yle Areena, Finland’s national streaming service, from May 25, 2018. The
film will be viewable internationally for a year.

THE BEETLE screening

THE BEETLE film screening at the Auditorium of the National Museum of Finland on April 6th at 11:15 to 12:45 as part of the Consumption Bing event. The screening follows the short lecture of Professor Jyrki Muona  at 12:45-13:15. More about the event >> 

You are welcome to give feedback and share your thoughts of the film through this form.

IHME Project Conversation: Henrik Håkansson, Jussi Parikka, Jörg Heiser, Filipa Ramos

IHME Festival, arranged in May 2018 in Korjaamo, Helsinki, hosted a variety of talks and other programme around the theme of THE BEETLE. In IHME Project Conversation, artist Henrik Håkansson, Professor Jussi Parikka of the University of Southampton, Editor-in-Chief of the e-publication Art-agenda Filipa Ramos from London, and Professor Jörg Heiser of Berlin University of the Arts considered the film and the representations of animals, especially insects. The conversation can be seen online at IHME’s Youtube channel together with other talks and animations made in STOP IT educational workshops.

Film´s soundtrack by Mika Vainio

The soundtrack of the film THE BEETLE is a live act by Mika Vainio (1963–
2017), a pioneer in the field of experimental electronic music, also known
as the other half of the duo Pan Sonic. “Vainio’s music not only speaks for
itself, it generates another language,” describes the IHME Artist Henrik
Håkansson describes and continues: “This film includes excerpts from a live
performance at Sonár Festival 2015, and uses a range of frequencies and
beats to create an extremely subtle vibration, a voice of its own that might
be the language of the insect portrayed: THE BEETLE.”

“As discussions about this project began to develop, I already had it in my
mind to ask Mika about the possibility of a new composition, and also
floated the idea of creating an eventual soundtrack for an orchestra, but
these plans came to an abrupt end with the extremely sad news of Mika’s
passing,” Håkansson says. “During THE BEETLE’s initial editing process, I
proposed the idea of adding music, and eventually voices, to different
parts of the film to the editor, Bobby Good. He subsequently added the
Sonár piece, and we were struck by how Mika’s performance and the
appearance of the beetle, Hylochares cruentatus, seemed like destiny.
There was nothing else to be said. I hope the spectator will get a sense of
that experience too, and see the film as a whole, as well as a tribute to the
Beetle itself and the music of Mika Vainio. I’m deeply grateful to his estate,
his family, Tommi Grönlund and Sähkö Recordings for making it possible to
incorporate Mika’s music into the film.”

IHME in Myyrmäki

The main character in Henrik Håkansson’s IHME Project film, THE BEETLE, is
the beetle Hylochares cruentatus, which is active in the first half of June.
On June 2, IHME also invited representatives of the human
species to join a summer swarm in the endangered beetle’s habitat in
Myyrmäki, Vantaa.

THE BEETLE was screened at Kino Myyri cinema in Myyrmäki on June
1 and an outdoor screening took place on June 3 at the Louhela Jam
event in Jokiuoma Park. At this open-air event for the whole family, participants could meet Hylochares cruentatus expert, Professor Jyrki Muona, make their own insect mask in an art workshop and enjoy Louhela Jam’s music and line up of events.

On weekday evenings June 1–10, an IHME audience worker cycled around the area ready to talk. Audience could also participate in a
guided tour of the park, where they could see enlarged close-ups on
billboards of the Hylochares cruentatus familiar from Håkansson’s film and
hear more about the life of this mysterious species. The entire programme of events was free of charge.

About the Artist

Henrik Håkansson (b. 1968, Sweden) is a trailblazer whose works have dealt
with the diversity of species and their migration, and who, since the start of
the 1990s, has been joined in the creation of his art by living plants and
animals. His works combine the interests of the artist, the biologist and the
ethnographer in a manner that is reminiscent of 19th-century explorers.
They frequently focus on small details of the natural environment, which
are displayed in extraordinary installations, videos, pictures or
performances. The works put the spotlight on technologies of science and
looking, technologies that make it possible to observe other species and
their living environments differently in the context of art. Håkansson has
participated in numerous major international exhibitions, such as the
Venice (1997 and 2003), Berlin (2001), São Paulo (2004) and Sharjah
biennales (2007), the Yokohama Triennale (2011) and Kassel Documenta
(2013). In Finland he has taken part in Kiasma’s Under the Same Sky and
ARS 01 exhibitions (2000 and 2001).

The insect world is frequently a main protagonist in Håkansson’s output.
The leading character in The End is a common fly that appears in a film,
the musical score composed for it having so far been played by three
different orchestras in three different contexts: THE END ensemble (2011),
Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2014) and Orchestre Philharmonique de
Monte-Carlo (2016). This dark musical drama holds the fly in its grasp and
unpicks its lifecycle. The composition is for multiple instruments and the
human voice, with the powerful moods of tension, melancholy, fear and
vulnerability carrying the person experiencing it through this intense work.

Another of Håkansson´s favourite categories in the animal world is birds. In
Birdconcert Oct. 23, 2005 (Carduelis carduelis) Part 1 a goldfinch performs
for a human audience, sitting on a branch brought into a concert hall.
That situation, the bird with its audience, has been documented live on
16 mm film. In this context constructed for human beings the local bird
comes across as an exotic, fragile sight. The configuration of mutual
observation made the audience, too, a performer, especially since the
goldfinch – regardless of the recorded song of one of its conspecifics
being played in the space – does not sing at any point in the entire
performance. The documentation of the performance constitutes its own
independent moving-image work, and will be shown as part of the IHME
programme along with The End. The work was produced by the Frieze Art
Fair in London.

A variety of living plants, and especially ones dug out of the ground along
with their roots, have often served as material for Håkansson’s
monumental installations. Visit the gallery website links below to see, for
instance, A Tree (Suspended) at the Kunstverein Freiburg, A Forest Divided
at Lunds konsthall or Broken Forest at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The
installations heart-rendingly encapsulate the human relationship with the
natural environment, which manifests itself in violent acts.

Read more about Henrik Håkansson’s production:

Modern Institute, Glasgow

Galerie Meyer Rigger

Galleria Franco Noero

Why Henrik Håkansson?

“We wanted to show various ways of working as an artist and different
approaches to art, the world and reality. The art that Håkansson
represents is topical and interesting right now, and is being widely
discussed,” is how expert-group member and critic Timo Valjakka explains
his own reasons for choosing the artist. “Henrik really has dealt with the
acculturation and artificialization of nature, and also worked with living
plants and animals in his works since the mid-90s,” Professor of
Contemporary Art Research Hanna Johansson adds. “I had an
opportunity to get to know Håkansson and his art already at the turn of
the millennium, when I was at Kiasma and we invited him to take part in
the ARS 2001 exhibition with The Thin Line Between Love and Hate, 2001.
That work consisted of epiphytic plants, which live in the forks of tree
branches, but do not draw their sustenance from the tree. He has been a
real trailblazer in investigating the relationship between human beings,
animals, insects and plants. It was a joy and an easy decision to be able to
select him to make the IHME Project for 2018,” says the Chair of the expert
group, Museum Director Emerita Tuula Arkio.

“Håkansson’s first work in Helsinki was a biotope for sea pink flowers
(Armeria maritima) in a seaside meadow on Hernesaari Island in the year
2000, as part of Kiasma’s urban-art exhibition Under the Same Sky and
Helsinki European Capital of Culture. Nowadays, Hernesaari’s shoreline is
known for its restaurants, sauna and sports activities. Landscape
gardening has clearly won out over untamed nature, and the area has
been turned into one of the citizenry’s main recreational oases. As the
IHME Project unfolds, it will be especially interesting to see what we will
learn about the rare halavasepikkä and its chances of survival on
wasteland on the fringes of urban nature,” says expert-group member and
Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Leevi Haapala.

“In our discussions about choosing artists we have for a long time had in
mind artists whose production takes a critical view of the geological
epoch known as the anthropocene, the human age. It has been
suggested that the anthropocene began in the mid-20th century. It is
characterized by the spread of various materials of human origin, such as
concrete, plastic and fly ash, around the planet. The influence of
humankind is also seen in changes in the atmosphere, and in the
widespread migration of non-native species. In his works Henrik has also
considered how human activity is reflected, for example, in the incidence
of different species,” Executive Director and Curator of the IHME project
Paula Toppila says of the ideas behind the choice of artist.

IHME Project 2018 in the media

Helsingin Sanomat 8.11.2017 (in Finnish): Alle sentin pituinen ötökkä on Ihme-festivaalin tähti

Kirkko ja kaupunki 8.11.2017 (in Finnish): Nykytaidefestivaali esittelee harvinaisen, viiden millimetrin kokoisen vantaalaisen

Taiteilija-lehti 8.11.2017 (in Finnish): Vuoden 2018 IHME-teos esittelee uhanalaisen kovakuoriaislajin Vantaalta

Vantaan Sanomat 8.11.2017 (in Finnish): Vantaalla elävä piskuinen kuoriainen on IHME-nykytaidefestivaalin päätähti

Kunstkritikk 21.5.2018 (in Swedish): En skalbagges liv

Dagens Nyheter 23.5.2018 (in Swedish): Poetiska insektperspektiv från Finland

Yle 24.5.2018 (in Finnish): Vantaalla on jotain sellaista, mitä et löydä mistään muualta! The Beetle -elokuva tutkii maailmaa hyönteisnäkökulmasta

Helsingin Sanomat 25.5.2018 (in Finnish): Ihme-festivaalilla katsellaan maailmaa halavasepikän silmin – ruotsalaistaiteilijan kuoriaisvideo kuvaa uutta geologista epookkia

Suomen Kuvalehti 25.5.2018 (in Finnish): Pienen olennon kautta

Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 25.5.2018 (in Finnish): Maailman ainoat halavasepikät sinnittelevät Vantaalla – kuoriainen esittää pääroolia taide-elokuvassa

EDIT-taidemedia 26.5.2018 (in Finnish): THE BEETLE

Vantaan Sanomat 30.5.2018 (in Finnish): Nimettömästä laatikosta sukeutui elämän mittainen työ – Hyönteistutkija missasi Elviksen, mutta sai sepikät tilalle

Myyr York Times 1.6.2018 (in Finnish): Halavasepikästä tehtiin linssilude

Previous IHME Artists and Projects

2008: Films and video works: Anri Sala, Jeremy Deller, Lauri Astala & Elina and Hanna Brotherus, Runa Islam, Christian Marclay, Deimantas Narkevičius, Francis Alÿs, Matthew Barney

2009: Antony Gormley: Clay and the Collective Body

2010: Susan Philipsz: When Day Closes

2011: Superflex: Modern Times Forever (Stora Enso Building, Helsinki)

2012: Christian Boltanski: The Heart Archive

2013: Miroslaw Balka: Signals

2014: Yael Bartana: True Finn

2015: Jeremy Deller: Do Touch

2016: Kateřina Šedá: Tram Buskers’ Tour

2017: Theaster Gates & The Black Monks of Mississippi: The Black Charismatic

2018: Henrik Håkansson: THE BEETLE

The ten years of IHME Projects have been collected in a book: Art in Public x 10 – IHME 2009 – 2018 available from the publisher Hatje Cantz’s web shop.

Find out more about the history of IHME.

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