Conference: Dialogical arts through sustainable communities: Acting on the margins, redefining empowerment

16.2.2022 9:00–18.2.2022 16:00

Conference Dates: 16 – 18 February 2022

Pre-event Dates: 14-15 February 2022

Venue: University of Lapland and Galleria Valo in Rovaniemi, Finland, and online platforms

Conference theme

Entanglements of social realities may expose or hide the margins of society. One of the key roles of the arts is to elicit dialogue and generate discussion around important societal challenges that often are entangled with, and located at, margins. In his well cited interview of 1976, Joseph Beuys maintained that ‘social sculpture’ is based on dialogical practices, that he described as ‘thinking, speaking and listening with others’ (Harlan, 2004, p. 2; Kuspit et al., 1993; Sacks, 2004, p. ix; Thistlewood, 1995). Beuys sought to transform the ways artists would interact with both the wider public and their own audiences. Through these ideas of social sculpture, he would set the trend for a more deliberate strategy for socially-engaged practices as artists began to interact with institutions by way of their artistic methods and approaches (Harlan, 2004). Social sculpture (also re-sculpting or de-sculpting) can be considered to consist of an array or collection of multidimensional actions that shape the arts as a vehicle for social change through dialogue and activism.

Central to this conference is a core question: How can the arts serve as a means to bring people together, from both the mainstream and the margins? Four key themes are proposed for exploration during the conference:

  • The power of the non-visible as the unrecognised or unseen connections between people and their communities (both towards the margins, and from the margins).
  • Connection between these people and communities can take place in many ways, and these connections are often complex and tangled.
  • From certain positions and in certain contexts, the strengths of communities (rather than their challenges or weaknesses) can be overlooked and remain unrecognised. What will be lost and, importantly, what can be gained if such strengths are visualised?
  • Challenges may often be difficult (or, at times, impossible) to solve due our proximity to them as some perspectives, often determined by a distance from such challenges, do not enable detailed views.

The conference, therefore, seeks to uncover, through deliberately diverse and creative forms of dialogue, what social sculpture can mean today. We are interested in how and whether the arts can continue to play a role in social change, especially when margins are continually moved to elicit new spaces for transformation. The metaphor of a picnic as a shared space for social nourishment and communal sharing will be used throughout the conference as a way to ensure a relaxed atmosphere within which to explore potential connections, develop and co-create dialogue and as an opportunity to think with others.

Conference approach and format

Collaborative action between researchers, academics and artists in ‘pre-pairing’ and executing their contributions will be encouraged. Research presentations, artist talks, artistic poster presentations and workshops will explore case examples of artistic experiments, projects and interventions conducted in the AMASS testbed and elsewhere. Each conference day will end with a picnic that will focus on a group discussion to reflect on, analyse and create dialogue in order to capture and share our experiences and learning from the day.

We encourage researchers and academics to pair with artists and collectively pre-pair contributions to explore:

  • emergent dialogical opportunities for all ‘voices’ and experiences of contributors (artists and researchers or academics) to emerge;
  • Innovative ways to perform your pre-paired dialogue;
  • different ways to express synergies and differences between the work of researchers and artists.


Harlan, V. (2004). A Note on the Text. In: V. Harlan (Ed.), What is art? Conversation with Joseph Beuys. Clairview Books.

Kuspit, D. B., Beuys, J., Warhol, A., Malevič, K., Mondrian, P., Duchamp, M., & Picasso, P. (1993). The cult of the avant-garde artist (pp. 98-99). Cambridge University Press.

Sacks, S. (2004). Forward. In: In: V. Harlan (Ed.), What is art? Conversation with Joseph Beuys. Clairview Books.

Thistlewood, D. (Ed.). (1995). Joseph Beuys: diverging critiques. Liverpool University Press.



Conference Chair: Satu Miettinen

Academic Chair: Teresa Torres de Eça

Program Chairs: Maria Huhmarniemi (artist talks), Paul Wilson (academic presentations), Mira Alhonsuo (workshops) and Ângela Saldanha (artistic posters)

Exhibition Chair: Mirja Hiltunen

Online Exhibition Chair: Raquel Balsa

Student Volunteer Chair: Amna Qureshi

Pre-event Chair: Melanie Sarantou


International Scientific and Art Committee:

Satu Miettinen

Mirja Hiltunen

Maria Huhmarniemi

Raphael Vella

Valentina Vezzani

Marie Fulkova

Paul Wilson

Teresa Torres de Eça

Roger Blomgren


University of Lapland,

Associação de Professores de Expressão e Comunicação Visual (APECV),

University of Leeds,


Call for contributions

We invite the following contributions:

Paper presentations

Paper presentations will disseminate case studies, artistic experiments, research methods and key findings presented in-person, as PowerPoints or videos. 

Artist talks

Artist talks will disseminate the personal and social experiences, use of methods, material knowledge and findings of their artistic experiments or projects, presented in-person, as PowerPoints or videos.

Artistic posters

Posters can be used as a method to communicate artistic and research results, processes, ideas and/or concepts using primarily visual content.


Workshops will not be offered in hybrid mode. The formats that can be used are on-line or in-situ. Some suggestions for online workshops are presented in ‘Format of submissions’. The in-situ workshops can be offered as, but are not limited to, picnics, performances and making spaces. 

Submissions can be presented in-person or virtually. All conference outcomes, such as videos, PowerPoint presentations and posters, will be disseminated via the AMASS narrative platform (add website).


  • Call for papers / contributions 3.9.2021
  • Deadline for submission of abstracts 27.10.2021
  • Notification of acceptance and suggestions for revision 15.11.2021
  • Conference Program 20.11.2021
  • Pre-event Program 20.11.2021
  • Early registration deadline 30.11.2021
  • Final deadline for presentation to the relevant conference chair 15.12.2021
  • Author registration deadline 30.12.2021
  • Final submissions of all presentations and virtual presentations 19.01.2022

Format of final submissions

Authors can submit any of the following formats as conference presentations:

  • Video (mp4): A video with the author presenting the main ideas of the paper presentation or artist talk should be recorded. The recommended length for video presentations is 15 minutes.
  • Presentation slides: Authors can submit a PowerPoint or PDF file with the presentation material and slides. There is not a specific template for presentations and participants can adopt the one of their preference. The recommended number of slides is 15-20. All submissions, paper presentations and artist talks, should include the sound recorded presentation (embedded in the presentation file).
  • Online workshops: Images, audio, video and moving images can be used in open access applications such as, but not limited to, jamboard or padlet.
  • In-situ workshops: These will be offered at the conference venue. Art actions will be offered as in-situ picnics, making spaces and other performances.
  • Artistic posters (PDF): Posters should be essentially creative and include a good combination of words, pictures, and graphics. They should include the results and conclusions of the papers, but authors are suggested to avoid including too much text in the poster, but instead focus on charts, figures, drawings, paintings, collage, graphic design, photographs, infographics, to name a few. The poster size should be A1. Accompanying text (which is optional, but must be presented in a separate document) can be used in one A3 page (1.5 margins) describing the poster using language understandable by a non-specialist audience.

The submission of a virtual presentation is recommended to provide more visibility to your paper. However, in exceptional cases, an author may decide not to submit his/her presentation due to professional (copyright, private contents, etc) or personal reasons. With the consent of conference participants, all conference presentations will be presented on the AMASS narrative platform.

How to submit your abstract

  • Abstracts are in written format. Informative and critical abstracts are accepted. The abstract should be written in English.
  • Please indicate one or two of the most relevant themes for your abstract (from the list of conference themes).
  • The abstract should be no more than 350 words. The title of your submission, the name(s), affiliation and email address(es) of the author(s). A maximum of 6 key words should be used.
  • Please also submit a second version of your abstract in de-identified format. This means all names, affiliations and email addresses of authors should be removed.
  • The abstract and the deidentified version should be submitted in the format of a PDF document.
  • They will be subject to double-blind peer review and contributors will be notified of the acceptance of their proposal and include suggestions and feedback.
  • Applicants will work in close collaboration and in dialogue with conference chairs to develop their contributions to the conference.
Submit your abstract to (