Down to Earth: The Mapping Session

31 Oct — 1 Nov 2022

Location: Aalto Design Factory

31 October – 1 Nov
ember 2022
Aalto Design Factory, Espoo


A soil chromatography and mapping workshop with Aino Johansson and Sirja Moberg facilitated by the Bioart Society.

Down to Earth: The Mapping Session is a two-day hands-on workshop at Aalto Design Factory in Otaniemi on 31st of October and 1st of November. This workshop is based on the Down To Earth workshop series by Aino Johansson and Sirja Moberg, held during 2021 and 2022. The aim of this new workshop is to shift the attention to the sampling sites, their context. The workshop continues to reflect on how soil chromatography can open up multiple aspects of soil to us and in our (artistic) practices and brings in aspects and attempts of mapping to extract and highlight context and relations between sample, site and collector.

Participants are asked to bring their own soil samples and to collect different information and data about their sampling sites and procedures, for example, coordinates, nature type, the weather, surroundings, their own spatial experience and other subjectivities in any form suitable like verbal, written, audio, video or other. During the workshop, the participants go through the process of making soil chromatographies with their own soil samples and then explore and test experimental and comparative methods to collectively map their soils and additional data and information. Participants will also use investigative tools like microscopes to learn more about the hidden aspects of the samples and take a guided meditative nature walk in Otaniemi.

During the workshop, the participants and hosts will discuss different aspects of soil to cultivate their understanding of it. The aim is to explore our relationship to the soils we inhabit – their role in the networks of the manifold ecosystems of planet Earth and the different kinds of agencies within. The program also includes guest speakers from the fields of art and science.

Down to Earth: The Mapping Session builds upon the two preceding Down to Earth soil chromatography workshops, growing into an autonomous workshop ensemble, expanded with new aspects on the themes and topics of the previous workshops. For this reason, both prior workshop participants and new applicants are equally encouraged to apply.

The soil chromatography technique was developed by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer in the 1950s and it was considered ground-breaking as a pictorial method for portraying biological processes. The method was developed to provide farmers and composters a snapshot of the biological activity and health of the soil. 


How to sign up 

Ten (10) participants are selected to join this workshop through an open call. Please note that the workshop lasts two days (from 9:00-17:00), and that the participants are expected to participate onsite on both days. The detailed program will be sent out to the participants.

To apply, please send an email to, including a short motivation letter in which you introduce yourself and briefly describe your interest in joining the workshop by October 20th, 2022.

In preparation for the workshop, we will kindly ask all participants to collect and bring a sample of their chosen soil from the Helsinki area. More detailed info for the soil sampling will be given after signing up.


Travel and accommodation bursaries

For people outside of Helsinki, we offer travel and accomodation support. Please, state in your application if you will be needing monetary support for traveling and/or accomodation in order to participate in the workshop. For International participants, we support only accommodation in Finland and they are expected to cover the cost of traveling to and from Finland on their own expense.


Sirja Moberg (b. 1989) is a contemporary artist from Helsinki, Finland. Moberg graduated with a Master of Arts in the Photography department from Aalto University in 2020. Her practice is experimental photography, bioart, video, installation and sculpture based. In her latest projects such as The Crater Lake Project, Soil experiments and Beetles LIFE she contemplates the diversity of nature and bringing invisible phenomena and entities in nature visible through art. Moberg is a member of Bioart Society ry, MUU ry, FLASH Light art society and Photographic Centre Peri. She has participated in several group exhibitions in Finland e.g. Kuoriaisefekti in the Natural History Museum of Helsinki 2022. Moberg graduated with BFA from Turku Arts Academy in 2015 and has also been studying at Emily Carr University of Arts + Design in Vancouver, Canada.


Aino Johansson (b.1984) is a multidisciplinary visual artist, performer and facilitator. Johansson graduated with an MA in contemporary art from Aalto University in 2015 and BFA from Lahti Art Institute in 2008. Her practice and body of work includes painting, installation, sculpture, performance, bioart, text, theatre and collective art praxis. In her work, she explores the relations of intimate experience, planetary agencies, states of our ecosystems, and social structures through combining material and intellectual exploration to embodiment. She is a member of Bioart society ry., Muu ry., Artist association Yö and Helsinki artists association. Johansson works currently on project <<Maan>> Puolustusvoimat (Earth Forces) in which they combine multidisciplinary art with environmental activism. She has taken part in exhibitions both in Finland and abroad.


The workshop is part of BioFacts – a programme that consists of a series of artistic research work labs. The programme introduces fundamental techniques of working with biological arts and serves as a vehicle to discuss art and science, materials, techniques, safety and policy, biopolitics, ethics as well as artistic examples through hands-on work. 

BioFacts is supported by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation as well as through Restorative Practices, a Creative Europe collaboration project co-founded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.


Image by Sirja Moberg.