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Aboagora 2024 explores war and the red planet through the means of science and art

The science and art event Aboagora’s theme this year is Mars, the Bringer of War. The AGORA-speakers of the event this year are the writer-journalist Thella Johnson, the secretary-general of the Global Campus of Human Rights Manfred Nowak, and researcher-artist Susanna Hast and researcher Noora Kotilainen. The program’s keynotes are free of charge and open to everyone. Mars, the Bringer of War is the first event of Aboagora’s new seven-year The Planets -season.

Aboagora is a space for researchers and artists and the public to explore current topics together in a multidisciplinary setting. The three-day event will be held for the 14th time at the Sibelius Museum in Turku 28–30 August 2024, with the theme Mars, the Bringer of War. The event deals with war from many different perspectives.

Mars opens Aboagora’s new the Planets -season. The theme season, inspired by Gustav Holst’s (1874-1934) Planets orchestral suite, will continue from 2024 until 2030. The seven movements of Holst’s famous composition are named after the planets of our solar system and the mythical deities associated with them. The opening year 2024 is also an important Gustav Holst jubilee year, as it will be 150 years since the composer’s birth.

The topical theme is approached in an interdisciplinary and artistic setting

Aboagora’s ethos is that solving the pressing problems of our time requires not only an interdisciplinary approach, but also a combination of scientific and artistic perspectives. The military Mars theme is approached from a culturally and scientifically wide perspective, characteristic of the event. The presentations, panels and workshops of the event deal with, among other things, human rights, post-war recovery and peace, sounds of war, war memorials, the effects of war on nature and the future after the war – peace. The program also approaches Mars as a celestial body: its astronomical features, musical frequencies and literary imagery.

A research retreat aimed at doctoral students of all disciplines and doctoral and master’s students in the arts has been organised as a part of Aboagora since 2018. This year the theme of the retreat is De/Colonial Present. The ten researchers and artists, selected via an open call from 92 applicants, approach the topic from multiple scientific and artistic backgrounds. The participants will spend three days on the island of Seili under the leadership of researcher and curator Taru Elfving. The selected participants approach the themes of colonization from diverse perspectives, including e.g. historical research, environmental research, agricultural science, gender study, geography as well as design and media art, to name a few.

The event brings science and art within the reach of the public

The Agora sessions, i.e. the keynotes of the event, are free of charge and open to all, and do not require advance registration. There are three keynote speakers, or agorists, this year.

On the opening day of the event, 28 August, in the Agora session of writer-researcher-singer Susanna Hast and researcher Noora Kotilainen we will listen to warlike sounds and silences. The timely book edited by Hast and Kotilainen Sodan pauloissa – Militarismi suomalaisessa yhteiskunnassa (Enthralled by the War – Militarism in Finnish Society) was published this spring.

Manfred Nowak, Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights, will arrive in Turku on August 29 to share about human rights, war, peace and music. Nowak, a human rights researcher with a long career with the UN, has become known for, among other things, his publication “The Routledge Companion to Music and Human Rights”.

Author and journalist Thella Johnson will hold an Agora talk on the closing day of Aboagora August 30 about peace and the post-war period. Swedish-Finnish Johnson’s first novel Fred (Peace) tells about three generations of a Finnish family, focusing on their story of peace after the war.

In addition to the Agora sessions, panels, workshops and artistic sessions will be experienced in Aboagora over the course of three days. With the exception of Agora keynote speeches, the event requires registration. The entrance fee for the three-day event is 50 €. Students, doctoral researchers and professional artists get tickets at a reduced price of 20 €. Registration for the event opens in May. Aboagora’s program has been published online.

Aboagora is a meeting place for researchers and artists, an enabler of cooperation and a space for new creation. The project’s annual activities include an international three-day main event organized at the Sibelius Museum in Turku, a research retreat and open Avant Aboagora pre-events. The project launched in Turku’s capital of culture year 2011 is now a pioneer in the field of science and art cooperation. The event is based on the ethos that comprehensive problem solving requires not only interdisciplinary approach but also combining scientific and artistic perspectives. The organizers of Aboagora are the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi, Turku Academy of Arts, Åbo Akademi Foundation and Turku University Foundation. Aboagora in 2024 is supported by the Kone Foundation, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Svenska Kulturfonden and The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies.