Origin Story is a lens through which a series of exhibitions presented at WAMx will explore the co-existence of different worldviews and the diverse forms of life that are constituted along with them.

WAMx programme 2019

  • 15.3.–9.6.2019
    Priscilla Telmon & Vincent Moon: Híbridos - The Spirits of Brazil
  • 14.6.–25.8.2019
    Tuomas A. Laitinen: Habitat Cascade
  • 15.8.-15.9.2019
    Terike Haapoja & Laura Gustafsson: Embrace your Empathy
  • 30.8.–17.11.2019
    Maeve Brennan: Listening in the Dark
  • 22.11.2019 – 22.2.2020
    Rebecca Birch: Lichen hunting in the Lillomarka


An origin story explains why something is the way it is: why the world has the distinct characteristics and qualities that it does and the place of human beings within it. Many mythologies, folk tales and the scientific community create narratives that explain how the world, its creatures and its plants, came into existence, and why things in the cosmos behave the way they do. Origin Story reflects on Finland’s unique situation at the frontier of Europe and the East, on the indigenous Sami culture in the north and on southern influences from across the Baltic Sea. The exhibition programme embraces the notion that we are not one or the other, but both and many. It invites us to question our understanding of materiality (matter and form) and non-materiality (the transcendent or spiritual) and our appreciation of a more-than-human world. The first three exhibitions reflect how sound can provide access to modes of understanding that do not require language but allow expressions to be felt in an unmediated state. Sound has the potential to traverse borders and the cultural differences amongst people and between the taxonomic kingdoms of animal and plant.

The inaugural exhibition by Priscilla Telmon and Vincent Moon – Híbridos – presents selected chapters from an ambitious four-year project in which the artists amassed a vast filmic and musical archive in Brazil. The exhibition creates a portrait of the South American country as a place of co-existence, documenting diverse spiritual traditions and their interwoven roots. Tuomas A. Laitinen’s installation Habitat Cascade is an ecosystem of interconnected components - objects, video and sounds - that he tends to like a gardener. The artist’s site-specific installation combines an ambient sound environment and material elements, inspired by artistic research into cognition in cephalopods. Maeve Brennan’s practice often engages with specialists in other spheres, calling for multi-disciplinary responses to the complex ecosystems that we are part of. In the recent film Listening in the Dark, Brennan studies the echolocation used by bats, reflecting on what is beyond or outside the scope of our innate perception and sound as a medium that can reveal otherwise hidden worlds. The last exhibition of the series is by Rebecca Birch, who retells complex narratives through landscapes and the communities that live in them. Her presentation at WAMx essentially involves a yellow lichen that has appeared in and guided her practice since 2011.

The artists of WAMx 2019 re-connect us with the narratives we use to make sense of our world. Their works engage both human and non-human entities, drawing on the inquisitiveness that drives humanity forward both to discoveries in the scientific community and through the traditions that survive in indigenous cultures. The urgent need to address our current environmental condition has catalysed a turn towards what is beyond human. We are ethically, politically and philosophically interested in engaging with non-human entities and exploring what lies outside our innate experience. A dialogue between cosmologies and a renewal of animist principles within western philosophical thought might provide an opportunity to test the everyday assumptions we make as part of our own worldview.

- Gina Buenfeld curator at Camden Arts Centre, London

The guiding idea of WAMx is to invite an international expert each year to plan the exhibition programme in collaboration with the museum. This year the programme has been designed in collaboration with Gina Buenfeld. Buenfeld has since 2015 researched the place of plants within indigenous cultures in Europe and South America and the function of abstract art and music in facilitating communication between the animal and plant kingdoms. This has included field research in Finnish Lapland (Samí shamanism) and extended periods in the Colombian, Peruvian and Brazilian areas of the Amazon Rainforest.


As part of the Origin Story programme, WAMx presents exhibitions inside and outside the white cube. An installation by Terike Haapoja and Laura Gustafsson appears in the early autumn next to WAM at platform Ekoluoto. Gustafsson and Haapoja have been working together on questions regarding the impact of biopower, capitalism and systems of knowledge production on human and nonhuman lives alike. The artists present their manifest along with a video piece inside WAM; the installation at Ekoluoto consists of nation state flags modified to accommodate nonhuman presence.