Artist talk with Kristiina Koskentola
17 October 2020


…I am roaming the region in search of a shaman and a cure for my hands that keep on shaking—to look for estranged parts of my soul… (Excerpt from the film)

Artist Kristiina Koskentola has been working and partially living- overwintering- in China for the last decade. In her talk she will reflect on her recent videofilm Flesh and Metal. Light and Oil. (2020) and her research on shamanisms among the heavily contaminated landscapes Northern China (Manchuria and Inner Mongolia). There is urgency for more intimate, embodied and embedded connection with the Earth. (Re)acknowledging our ontological relationality, monistic metaphysics and nature-culture continuum allows the necessary shift away from humancentrisms and towards affirmation of worlds in which alterities might find their place. This shift may be humble but it might be also the most essential and even the most confrontational and intimate one. Flesh and Metal. Light and Oil. examines the potential of ‘non-living’ or 'spectral' subjects as as active political and ethical actors and agencies. By dialogue with the shamans, reflection of posthuman and new materialist theories and through her own body she searches for a deeper relationship with nature through alternative knowledges. How this might challenge the boundaries of human rationalism and knowledge production and the environmental injustice and slow violence of the logic of (global) capitalism? How might forgotten and peripheral ecologies be active and deep-rooted incubators of knowledge? How could they open up, simultaneously critical as well as affirmative, approaches of thinking towards more sustainable, conscious, and spiritual futures?

Kristiina Koskentola is a visual artist. She earned her PhD from the University of the Arts/ Chelsea College in London. Currently she divides her time between Amsterdam, and Beijing. Her work spans across media including video, installation, interactive performative projects, publications and lectures. With her recent projects she explores modes of knowledge production, polyvocal subjectivity and agency of multiple co-actors (human and not) often through "peripheral", spiritual or forgotten ecologies. Transcultural and monistic perspectives, necropolitics and coexistence are central to her ethically and socio- politically driven practice. Koskentola has exhibited, conducted talks, screenings, lectures and workshops in diverse venues and contexts including Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing, Gallery Lumen Travo Amsterdam, Zendai MoMA Shanghai, Skaftfel Centre for Visual Arts, Iceland, MACBA Barcelona, Gallery Hippolyte, Helsinki, Bio Art Society Helsinki, Sonic Acts Academy/ University of Amsterdam, Goethe-Institut Beijing, Museum De Lakenhal/Scheltema, Leiden, Star Gallery, Beijing, Charlois Speciaal, Rotterdam, Huangbian Station/ Times Museum Guangzhou, University of Amsterdam, 4th Baku Biennial of Conceptual Art in Azerbaijan, Central Academy Beijing, Finnish Academy of Art Helsinki, University of the Arts London, University of New Hampshire, Dutch Art Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Himalayas' Art Museum Shanghai, General Public Berlin,Dushanbe Art Ground,Tajikistan and Smart Project Space Amsterdam. Her works are to be found in important collections such as that of KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art and Kone Foundation, among others.

Kristiina Koskentola

27”50 min.
3840x2160, 16:9, single channel with 4 channel sound, colour
Voiceover with English and Chinese subtitles

Flesh and Metal. Light and Oil. (2020) is reflecting on shamanisms of Inner Mongolia and Manchuria (Northern China) in relation to the serious pollution, electromagnetism, heavy industry and rare-earth mining in the region, global capitalism and the artist’s own body.

In the film rituals such as for example the healing ceremony of Shaman Liu (who, embodied as her Fox God, healed the artist’s shaking hands) dialogue, drumming and singing intertwine with atmospheric electronic soundscapes and (industrial) landscapes. The film examines the potential of ‘non-living’ or 'spectral' subjectivities and time as active political and ethical actors and agencies. It searches for a deeper relationship with natural and spiritual worlds through alternative knowledges and explores the boundaries of human rationalism and knowledge production and the environmental injustice and slow violence of the logic of (global) capitalism. The film draws on dialogues with involved shamans, healers and musicians, local knowledge, lived experience, nonhuman knowledge and theorising by Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti, Rick Dolphijn and Jussi Parikka.


Kristiina Koskentola