Keynote speakers

Rachel Armstrong is a ZAP (independent) Professor of Regenerative Architecture at the Department of Architecture | Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint-Lucas, Brussels/Ghent, KU Leuven, Belgium. Her work explores the transition from an industrial era of architectural design to an ecological one as a fundamental change in the impacts of human development on our health, ecosystems and how we live together. Drawing together the fields of architectural design, natural and medical sciences through cultural transformation, she calls the synthesis that occurs between them “living” architecture where constructions share some of the properties of organisms. This simultaneously ecological, technological, and humanistic practice considers the implications for designing and engineering in a world thrown off balance.

 Julia Chryssostalis is a legal theorist and philosopher in law, a Principal Lecturer at University of Westminster School of Law and Co-director of the Westminster Law & Theory Lab. She was the co-leader of the "Spatial Justice in the postcolony – legacies of the nomos of apartheid" project (2017–2020). Julia studied Law at the University of Thessaloniki and political theory and discourse analysis at the University of Essex, before briefly practising law in Athens. She has held visiting fellowships at the European University Institute, Princeton University, and the University of Cape Town. She has experience in the legal architectographies of Athens and on spatial understandings of law in the work of Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt. She is currently working on a reading of the city through the legal archive.

Monday, 12 December presenters

Tuomo Alhojärvi is a geographer specialised in postcapitalist theory and practice. His PhD thesis "For Postcapitalist Studies: Inheriting Futures of Space and Economy" (University of Oulu 2021) explored the limitations of postcapitalist discourses using critical tools from feminist economic geography and deconstructive philosophy. Now based at the University of Eastern Finland, Tuomo works as a postdoctoral researcher in the Kone Foundation funded project "Post-ownership as an interpretation and experience of economic change" (09/2022-08/2025). His current work is centred on cartographies, archives, and translations as postcapitalist sites and methods.

Erna Bodström is a Postdoctoral Researcher affiliated with The Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism CEREN at the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research focuses on issues of migration, especially on asylum, activism and integration. With a background in communication studies, she focuses especially on policy texts and draws on theories of borders, citizenship and discourse to examine how non-physical boundaries are constructed in the nation states. She is also a human rights activist who has both worked and volunteered with asylum seekers.

Anna Jensen is a curator, researcher, writer, artist and feminist based in Helsinki. Jensen’s site-specific practice is based on collectivity, friendships, embodied experiences and deconstructing existing social structures, art and politics. Jensen’s ultimate goal is global revolution, but while waiting for that to happen the aim is to create ecologically and ethically sustainable practices, and reconsider notions of local and global, curating, and canon. Jensen is part of Porin kulttuurisäätö, an artist-curator collective formed in 2013. The collective organizes exhibitions and events that question and reconstruct the structures existing both in the art world and in our society. 

Aino Hirvola is an architect (M.Sc.) and a doctoral candidate in urban planning. Her doctoral thesis examines professional lobbying in urban planning and politicization as a source of democratic legitimacy of planning. Her main research interest is planning theory, within which she studies politicization, populism, emancipation, and transparency in planning. Currently she is also working in the research project "Transforming Anatomies of Democratic Planning: Combining Planning-Theoretical and Legal Perspectives on Flexible Regulation in Finnish Land-Use Law" (TRANAPLAN) funded by the Academy of Finland. She is a university teacher in the department of built environment, Aalto University. In "City As Space of Rules and Dreaming" project Aino focuses on the connection between emancipation and urban space and planning.

Maiju Loukola is an artist-researcher and a university lecturer (Doctor of Arts) at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki Doctoral programme. Her research practice involves site and situation related urban space interventions with focus on democratization of space, peripherality and inclusive practices. Maiju leads the Kone Foundation funded project "City as Space of Rules and Dreaming" (2021–2024) in which she studies spaces of co-existence in the polemical and indisciplinary crossings of normative and imaginary site formation practices. Maiju was one of the initiators of "The Floating Peripheries – mediating the sense of place” research project between Aalto Arts and Lapland University (2017–2021).

Zen Marie is an artist and educator working at the intersection of lens-based media, social practice and installation. Zen holds an MA in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam and is a graduate of the two-year residency program at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Through a practice which spans film, photography, performance, drawing and writing, he investigates the relationships between power and place, and medium and meaning. His current and recent projects propose critical rereadings of the narratives that become entangled with nature via conquest and representation. He looks at landscape cinematography and video installation as sites where the personal, the political and the social can be explored and mapped. His current research takes up the concept of site specificity and considers the ways in which this concept can return to the gallery or museum as critically active gestures. Zen's studio practice is complemented by his position as a lecturer in Fine Art at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg, where he is also engaged in research towards a practice-led PhD.

Brigitta Stone-Johnson (Brigs) is an architect and fine artist who lives in Johannesburg. She is a lecturer and creative practice researcher at the Wits School of Architecture. Her PhD work and research explore materiality and the Anthropocene through collaborations with more than human oddkin, such as local stone, Tar, rubble and plastic.

Tanja Tiekso is a researcher, writer and musician specialising in experimental art and the history of the avantgarde. In "City as Space of Rules and Dreaming" project Tiekso studies the topographies of artistic dream practices and sound as a non-normative component in the city space. Tiekso is a PhD and adjunct professor in musicology at the University of Helsinki. Currently she conducts their research at the Department of Philosophy, History and Art / Aesthetics / University of Helsinki.

Paul Tiensuu is a doctoral candidate in law at the University of Helsinki. In "City as Space of Rules and Dreaming" project he develops the theory of norms and their materialisation and effect in the urban space. Further, he studies how urban space affects the potential of collective political action in different neighbourhoods. He specialises on 20th century French philosophy, particularly structural theory, and in this vein contributes to the general theoretic background of the project. In his thesis Tiensuu elaborates upon network and systems theoretic research to study the structural effect of the regulatory systems to the change of laws, including how the regulation can be influenced from outside. This issue he has tackled also in his recent research on lobbying.

Marloeke Van Der Vlugt is a Dutch cross-disciplinary artist-researcher with a background in performance, fine arts, and scenography. Her work has been exhibited and performed in multiple (inter)national museums, gallery shows, and theatres. In 2015 her book Performance as Interface | Interface as Performance was released in which she explores her living in a technology-driven, networked world and its impact on the body. She is a lecturer at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht and a researcher at the Professorship Expanding Artistic Processes. In 2019 she started her artistic PhD project that inquires into artistic strategies that research our aesthetic interaction with materialities (bodies, materials, spaces) through the lens of Touch(ing).

Tuesday, 13 December presenters

Alex Arteaga  is an artist researcher who combines and hybridizes aesthetic, phenomenological and enactivist research practices through an inquiry into embodiments, environments and aesthetic cognition. He studied music theory, piano, electronic music, composition and architecture in Barcelona and Berlin and received a PhD in philosophy at the Humboldt University Berlin. He is lecturer at the Berlin University of the Arts, professor at the The Film and Audiovisual School of Catalonia, and visiting researcher at the University of the Arts Helsinki. Alex Arteaga conceives and develops long-term artistic research projects such as Architecture of Embodiment ( or Contingent Agencies (

Mohamed Sleiman Labat is born and raised in the Sahrawi Refugee Camps southwest Algeria. His art draws upon the past and present life of the Sahrawi people.  In 2015 he created Motif Art Studio after destructive floods in Samara Camp. The studio was built from the discarded materials and broken furniture. The studio organizes different art collaborations, interactive sessions and art talks. It also includes an experimental garden to grow vegetables and plants next to the studio. The garden provides some food for Laban’s family as well as an escape from the harsh desert hot environment. His art practice aims to address pressing social and environmental issues.

Pekka Niskanen is a Helsinki-based artist and researcher. In the previous research on “Family Gardens, an Emerging Discourse in the Sahrawi Community” Niskanen and Mohamed Sleiman Labat have observed the emergence of small-scale family gardens in the Saharawi community in the Hamada Desert. The research appreciates how gardens and agricultural knowledge are starting to change people’s perception about food production and diet. Especially for this community where dependency on international aid has been the case since the arrival of the Saharawi to the refugee camps in Algeria in 1975. Niskanen was an artist in residence at Villa Lante at the end of summer 2022 invetigating community gardens in Rome.

PlayGroup (Jill Richards, Barend Engelbrecht, Jurgen Meekel)  

Jill Richards, Johannesburg based pianist, sound artist and improviser. Coming from a classical music background, she specialises in contemporary piano music, as well as free improvisation. She works with people from various disciplines (music, visual, acting) and has sonic collaborations with artists living both in South Africa and abroad. These include Jurgen Meekel and Barend Engelbrecht, her partners in “Sonic Excavations: layers of listening in Joburg“. Jill is passionate about contemporary Johannesburg and its surrounds, as well as its rich and diverse history which ranges from the Cradle of Humankind – the earliest humans – to the vibrant youthful city it is today. Jill is very excited about exploring this sonically, in both real and imagined ways. Her performing work includes concerts, recordings and chamber music. 

Dr Barend Engelbrecht is a Johannesburg-based artist and researcher whose main creative and theoretical interest is in sound and its relationship to time and space, particularly within the dynamic urban environment of Johannesburg. He also currently works in collaboration with the experimental sonic arts collective “PlayGroup”, with Jill Richards and Jurgen Meekel.

Jurgen Meekel works and collaborates on contemporary art installation pieces, sculptures, animation, VFX, motion graphics, sonic art, film and video work exhibiting nationally and internationally. This practice includes collaborating with PlayGroup: Jill Richards and Barend Engelbrecht, in a long term project “Sonic Excavations: layers of listening in Joburg“. Currently teaches filmmaking at the Wits School of the Arts in Film & TV.

Prince Massingham
, author, script writer, actor, researcher and educator born and bred in Kliptown, Soweto. Massingham trained at the Afrika Cultural Centre where he became a facilitator in Drama and Theatre, and Co-ordinated the Annual Community Theatre Festival and the Annual Children’s Festival. His book of short stories and poems “Kliptown Stories” was published in 2008, illustrated with artworks by Clifford Charles. He has recently worked as an actor in a number of local productions, including “The Queen” and “Bicycle Man”. Massingham developed characters and wrote the scripts of the short film “Die Matras” (2019) and the feature “The Beehive”, filmed as part of the Kliptown community film initiative in 2020 and 2021, and acted as community liaison and organiser for cast, crew and locations for both productions.

Neo Monyamane is an independent filmmaker hailing from Odendaalsrus, a small mining town in the Free State. Neo graduated from the Academy of Sound Engineering with a Diploma in Television and Screen media in 2016, winning the Best Independent Film award. In 2017 he was nominated for an award at the Cambridge International Film Festival under the category of “Future Filmmaker” for his documentary “G-Face – The Documentary About Nothing” and 2018 saw him receive two more international nominations from the Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh and the Nepal Human right’s Film Festival. In 2019 Neo was selected as part of the NFVF youth director programme. Neo has directed and produced 5 short films, a 6 part documentary series, 2 documentary films and recently “Die Matras” and “The Beehive”, in collaboration with the community film initiative in Kliptown.

Emeka Ogboh is a sound and installation artist from Lagos based in Berlin where he recently put up two site-specific sonic installations. “Ámà: The Gathering Place“ transformed the atrium of a major Berlin museum, the Martin Gropius Bau, into a place to commemorate the basic sense of community. In the center of the classical building a large, sculpted tree wrapped in traditional Akwétè weavings was surrounded by seats that invited to sit down and listen to a soundscape of Igbo folk songs. The multisensory ensemble evoked the way people are coming together in the daily life of an Igbo village. “Der Kosmos – Things Fall Apart” was an installation on the roof terrace of Humboldt Forum, a Berlin institution that was central to the discussion about the restitution of art taken away from Africa. An array of twelve loudspeakers, wrapped in colorful African weavings, played Igbo chants under the open sky in the visual axis of the Berlin Dome. Emeka Ogboh’s talk will revolve around the ways in which Ogboh's multisensory installations recode and transform spaces, while unfolding their inherent decolonial quest.

François Sarhan is a French composer, director and visual artist who performed in Asia, Africa, America and Europe. He is noted for creating his own music-theatre and multimedia works in which he himself often performs. He collaborated with William Kentridge on “Telegrams from the Nose”, which was presented more than 30 times at major festivals and venues all over Europe. When he opened his first exhibition in Paris, he initiated a new aspect of his art, with videos, collages and artist books. Among his works are the chamber opera “King Lear”, a film and music theatre work produced by LOD in Gent, called “Lachez tout!”, and most recently the chamber opera “Nacht bis Acht,” composed for Deutsche Oper Berlin. Sarhan taught at IRCAM between 1998 and 2002, and at the Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg since 1999. Since 2015 he teaches composition at the UdK (Berlin) and occasionally at the Musikhochschule in Dresden.

Tanja Sakota is an author, filmmaker, artistic researcher and associate professor at the Wits School of Arts, Film and Television Department. Coupled with more than 20 years of experience in academic teaching, her practice-based research focuses on memory traces as they become accessible through architecture, sites and locations in landscape and city spaces. Her upcoming monograph “Uncovering memory” proposes innovative ways to approach pedagogy using sites of tormenting memories as the backdrop for artistic research.

Stefan Winter, philosopher and author, is Honorary Professor for Artistic Research and Head of Institute for Artistic Research at Film University Babelsberg, Visiting Professor at University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, and representative of Germany at the European Forum for Advanced Practices. In his research and teaching at universities and art schools in Basel, Berlin, Braunschweig, Düsseldorf, Helsinki, Perugia and Potsdam, he traversed and connected artistic and scientific knowledge cultures. Numerous publications on all epochs in the history of knowledge and on present-day questions across the disciplines.

Mocke Jansen van Veuren is an educator, filmmaker and researcher born and working in Johannesburg. He is currently developing a PhD study focusing on community-based digital film education pedagogies. He has developed curricula, unit standards, qualifications and programmes for SAQA, University of Johannesburg, Academy of Sound Engineering and University of the Witwatersrand, and has taught film, animation, and digital multimedia from first year to MA level. His artistic work includes video, sound and dance collaborations with choreographer and performer Nelisiwe Xaba. Their work “Uncles & Angels” was awarded the FNB Art Prize in 2013. Van Veuren currently works as a lecturer and deputy Head of Department at the Wits Department of Film and Television, and consults for KZN Film Commission in the development of their post-graduate training programmes. Van Veuren supported the production and public screenings of “Die Matras”, “The Beehive” and “The Great Wall of Eldorado”, and secured funding in support of “The Beehive” via Arts Research Africa. He has been active in brokering partnerships and funding networks for the Kliptown and Eldos Digital Film and Arts Initiative.

Uygur Vural is Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist born in Antalya, Turkey. He is currently working as a freelance instructor, cello performer, improviser, sound artist, and composer in Berlin.
Uygur Vural majored in Music at Antalya Anatolian Fine Arts High School then studied Cello and Composition at İstanbul Bilgi University. In 2010, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Communication Design and taught Sounds & Design at the Department of Film and Television from 2007 to 2011 at the same University. His research is mostly focused on City Soundscape, Acoustic Ecology, Sound-Architectural relations, experimental techniques in performance, and improvisation.

Christo Doherty is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.  He is also director of the Arts Research Africa project in the School and chair of the School’s Research Committee. His own artistic practice is in the fields of video art and photography, and he produces and hosts the monthly "arts research africa" podcast. He is working across various disciplines at the University to advance engagements between Art and Science; while in his own research he explores the relationship between vision lens-based technologies and consciousness, memory, and subterfuge in Africa.