Mia Makela is a Finnish media artist and cultural historian, whose work explores intersections between art and other disciplines: technology, science, ecology. She is a researcher-artist whose production is based on a deep need to understand and take into account the non-human world.
Makela uses expert knowledge and empirical research as part of her media artworks. In her artistic process, she steps into the worlds she describes and turns into an algae hunter, a zookeeper, a bird watcher, a beekeeper. Her works manifest a long-term observation and examination of her subjects. She challenges us to see the limitations of human senses and to look at the world in a larger continuum.
Makela exhibits chosen themes in the forms of video, installations, audio guides, expeditions, participatory acts and related publications. Makela, internationally acknowledged pioneer in the field of live cinema, has shown her work and lectured all over the globe.
Her latest activities include Looking for Mr. Blue, a virtual bird watching saga tracing the cultural history of a goose. History of an Impossible Destiny, a 4-channel video installation, for which she spent 3 years documenting beekeeping around Europe and doing research on the destiny of the honey bee. Zootopia audio guide for zoos, a posthumanist and feminist re-imagining of other species. Artistic expeditions in Patagonia and Chiloe Island in Chile in search for creating practical framework for her human-animal studies. Green Matters – video handbook for algae gatherers - an exploration in the world of green algae and traditional weaving in order to save the Baltic Sea.
Currently she is working on minerals and beevision.
Photo: Hilja Mustonen
I´m interested in the research artists can produce in various fields of knowledge and the capacity to adapt to various roles in society : an intruder, a buffer, a metamorphosis, a provocateur, a clown, an antennae… . Artists can provide non-expertism, which can offer valuable insights. Curator Adrienne Goehler writes. “We cant leave the world to experts”. I find that a relevant notion, as so called experts´ hands might be too tied to political and economic currents and interests.
During the recent years my artistic work has turned from mystical and meditative live cinema performances towards ecological, social and political spheres, and the nature of my work has become more investigative. Originally trained as a visual and media artist, I have a master degree on Cultural history. Mixing academic research with art process feels natural.
I´m fascinated by the figures and imagery of natural philosophers and the mentality of the exploration and discovery, without the colonialist agenda. According to Laura Snyder the word scientist has its roots in the combination of the terms artist and natural philosopher, which is fascinating as both scientists and artists indeed study the same thing: the world around them. My projects bear titles that resemble educational terminology, they are guides and handbooks to an alternative world.
With a statue of the Lithuanian bee goddess Austeja in 2018.