ARTension: Straight forward with
...Mia Mäkelä!

The Artist as Investigator

This Artension session will reflect on the role of the Artist as Investigator through the contributions of Prof. Dr. Ariane Berthoin Antal from the research unit Cultural Sources of Newness and artist and documentarist Mia Mäkelä who will show her video Green Matters Handbook for Algae Gatherers and discuss her experience looking into the environmental issues of the Baltic Sea. Art environments are often perceived as open laboratories and the investigative practices of artists as a key model for a new form of research. They are highly relational, feeling at ease in the crossroads of disciplines and free from the formalities and hierarchies of the academia as well as from the closed profit-oriented structure of R+D departments.

The research unit Cultural Sources of Newness was established in 2008 by the W2B (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung), the Social Science Research Center in Berlin. It aims to address the cultural factors that favor creativity and the cultural conditions under which newness is recognized and valued, drawing on multiple disciplinary perspectives such as: economic sociology, cultural economics, organizational development, cultural anthropology, political science and urban studies.

In this video and handbook, Mia Mäkelä approaches the environmental issues around the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. Her experiments with the green algae, an essential source of oxygen with prospects of using it for energy and food in the future, explore their possible use with traditional rug-machine techniques. The project was presented as part of an exhibition at the botanical garden of Turku on the occassion of TURKU 2011- Cultural Capital of Europe. It was commissioned by Curated Expeditions to the Baltic Sea by Capsula.

Mia Mäkelä will present the research process behind Green Matters. Handbook for Algae Gatherers, in which she had to engage with an eclectic set of knowledge, ranging from biology and environmental politics to rugtechniques. Taking that as a starting point, she will reflect on the position of artists in scientific and interdisciplinary projects and address the key question of their role as investigators, social mediators, political agents or “agents provocateurs”.

Prof. Dr. Ariane Bethoin Antal is program leader for Artistic Interventions in Organizations in the research unit Cultural Sources of Newness (WZB) and professor of Organizational Development and Intercultural Management in the Technical University of Berlin. She has recently published Managing artistic interventions in organizations. A comparative study of programs in Europe (with R. Gómez de la Iglesia and M. Vives Almandoz, edited by Gotheburg. TILLT Europe, 2011)

Mia Mäkelä is an artist, real-time visual performer, educator and documentarist. Her current projects include the live visual set for the opera La Figure de la Terre with premiere in Berlin in April 2013 and a documentary on traditional healing in Adivasi communities in India. She is an author on the topic of live visual performance and expanded cinema.


Artension is an open platform for a critical discourse on and between artistic, scientific and other socially relevant positions. We invite guests to present their projects and discuss their subjects of interest in a public debate. We create a space for direct and intense engagement with concrete ideas, as well as a possibility for a first-hand experience, which can be meaningful for the audience.