Friday 12 May 2023, from 7 PM to 9 PM, Institut finlandais

The Invisible Supports the Visible – Understanding Soil as Active, Living Entity

The Finnish Institute is very happy to welcome landscape architect Michel Desvigne from MDP
Office, professor Marc-André Selosse from the National Museum of Natural History, plant ecologist
Sari Stark from the Arctic Centre of the Lapland University in Rovaniemi and microbial ecologist
Kim Yrjälä from the Department of Forest sciences of the University of Helsinki.

The drought and heat brought by climate change, as well as soil pollution and microbial poverty,
calls for ways for revitalizing urban environments and polluted land areas. Trees are suffering in
the degraded urban soils and microbiomes of forests are severely decimated. In this situation we
need to talk about the importance of soil microbes and how we can revive urban green areas and
take care of the soil.

The event is organized by visual artists Nina Rantala and Visa Suonpää within their project Apart
We Shall Perish. Plant ecologist Sari Stark and microbial ecologist Kim Yrjälä are also members of
this multidisciplinary team.

Apart We Shall Perish explores the ways to revive urban green areas by assisted migration of
microbiomes from old pristine forests. The old forests microbial communities have evolved over
thousands of years. This has created a very old, diverse, and rich culture that is much more
resilient to the challenges of today than soils without such history.

The core of the project is to restore the connection to the land and soil, coexistence that takes into account life in its full variety, a culture of care. Apart We Shall Perish brings together different ways of knowing, feeling, and experiencing. In their practice the artists combine transgenerational knowledge, science, and art.

Nina Rantala and Visa Suonpää are currently in the residence of the Cité international des arts in
Paris. Apart We Shall Perish is supported by Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation.

Michel Desvigne is a landscape architect internationally renowned for his rigorous and
contemporary design and for the originality and relevance of his research work. His ecological
approach to landscape design drives MDP Office to look for new solutions to the challenges we are
facing in urban environments.

Marc-André Selosse is a highly recognized biologist specialized in botany and mycology. He has
written books on the fundamental importance of soil microbes for all life and has worked on
symbiosis, especially in the fields of evolution and ecology.

Sari Stark is a plant ecologist studying the function of soil microbes in northern natural ecosystems and how it is changing due to climate warming and human activities. To reach a long time scale, Stark has also combined ecological research with information produced by historical research.

Kim Yrjälä is microbial ecologist and leading phytoremediation expert in Finland. His research
passion is to find solutions for sustainable development and carbon neutrality by using biochar.

Nina Rantala is a sculptor. She has worked internationally with communities over 20 years and
interaction with people is a central part of her practice. In her communal works, Rantala has dealt
with relationships to one’s environment and its changes.

Visa Suonpää is a visual artist known for his black and white animations that deal with natural and
human history and climate. His environmental works of art extend to the social and political realm.
Suonpää is part of the artist duo IC-98. They represented Finland at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
The conversation will be moderated by Alexandre Jamet, microbiologist at INRAE of Jouy-en-

The conversation will be held in French and in English. An English-French simultaneous translation
will be proposed to the public by Rachel Brevière.

Reservation within the limit of available places. Reserve your place here.