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Grazer Kunstverein moves to the forest
Alma Heikkilä and Elisabeth von Samsonow
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What if the Grazer Kunstverein moved to a forest? What can we learn from old growth trees and the soil beneath our feet? The artists Alma Heikkilä and Elisabeth von Samsonow both own pieces of land that they bought in order to preserve its trees and soil. For our Grazer Kunstverein is moving! event we will hold a talk with the artists to discuss the meaning of untouched land and the preservation of old growth trees. The team of the Grazer Kunstverein will take a hike in the forest of Wetzelsdorf in order to sharpen our senses concerning the interconnectedness of humans, art and ecology.

Alma Heikkilä (born 1984) lives and works in Helsinki. She is a founding member of Mustarinda, a multidisciplinary collective located in the old-growth forests of northern Finland, that hosts residencies at the intersection between art and ecology. Heikkilä graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2009. She has shown her work in solo exhibitions at Kiasma, Helsinki (2019), Casco Art Institute, Rotterdam (2018), Gallery Ama, Helsinki (2017, 2013), and elsewhere. She has participated in biennials in Fiskars, Finland; Timisoara, Romania; Gwanju, South Korea. She was awarded the Ducat Prize of the Finnish Art Society in 2014. Her work is included in the collections of Kiasma and the Finnish National Gallery.

Elisabeth von Samsonow (born 1956) is a German-Austrian artist, activist and philosopher who is a professor of philosophic and historical anthropology at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. She is a founding member of the Dissident Godesses’ Network, an association of researchers and artists that finds new approaches to Paleolithic and Neolithic female figurines from Lower Austria, further she is a founding part of THE LAND OF THE GODDESSES, a project on 4 hectare of land dedicated to matriarchy, art and the development of ecological awareness.

In her practice as an artist and curator she focuses on the systemic and symbolic place of sculpture and plastic art. Her artistic practice includes sculpture, performance, painting, video and installation. Her research delves into the history of philosophy and religion, a theory of a collective consciousness, the history of the relationship between art/ technique, religion and psychoanalysis, the history of the perception of women and female identification (Young Girl Studies), the dissolution of the self in modernity and feminist ecology.

Recent publications include Anti Electra. The Radical Totem of the Girl (Minnesota University Press Minnesota 2019), The Goddesses Books (4 vols., as an editor, Verlag für Bildende Kunst Wien 2019–2020), Epidemic Subjects – Radical Ontology (Diaphanes, Zürich/Berlin, 2017) and Egon Schiele as Collector (Bibliothek der Provinz, 2016). She has shown her works and projects in solo exhibitions at the Natural History Museum, Vienna (2020), Dominican church, Krems (2016), and MuseumsQuartier, Vienna (2015). She has performed, among others, at the Venice Biennale (2019), the Solyanka State Gallery Moscow (2017), the Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (2016) and the Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna (2016). Von Samsonow has participated in numerous group shows, most recently at the Kunstverein Carinthia (2020), Leopold Museum, Vienna (2018) and Kunsthalle Tirol (2018). Her work is included in the collections of the Belvedere Museum, Vienna, the Federal Chancellery of Austria, the city of Vienna and the federal state of Lower Austria.