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[trɒfɪk], from Greek τροφικός, 
relating to feeding or nutrition

Trophic Verses is an artistic exploration into the life and phenomena in and around of Earth's body of soil. The project spans a period of nearly four years and has commenced in summer 2018. Each year the project manifests in different kinds of artistic and curatorial practices, and launches new collaborations with other art, research and environmental initiatives.

The project Journal tracks the process and presents documentation of the outcomes as they are available. Further information on published works can be found through the main menu.

Telling Tree art+rsrch, based in Helsinki, Finland, is an art production house and initiative by artist Teemu Lehmusruusu attending to exploring new forms of socially/ecologically impactful artistic practices, transdisciplinary collaborations and artistic research.

Laura Soisalon-Soininen's 'Field Circulation (Pellon kierto)' opens at Kilpiä Farm, Pusula.

July 8, 2021

Laura Soisalon-Soininen's new work 'Field Circulation' consists of a walk and traces in Kulmala fields, a branch of the regenerative farm of Kilpiä at Tölli village. Her artistic practise has been supported by the expertise of researcher-farmers Iiris and Tuomas Mattila, who run the farm. Everything experienced has left its mark on the work created by the process, which is still evolving during the growing season.

The work can be seen during the summer 2021, visits by arrangement, please contact

The work is curated by Saara Karhunen, as a commission for the Trophic Verses project.

More info here.

'House of Polypores' presented at the inaugural Helsinki Biennial in Vallisaari, Helsinki

June 9, 2021

Teemu Lehmusruusu's hybrid art work 'House of Polypores' is a site-specific installation that creates a space to slow down and breathe in the rhythm of the decaying wood of the nature preservation area surrounding the piece.

'House of Polypores' integrates natural processes and biomaterial research with sound. It “listens” to decaying trees and converts their sounds into organ music. The installation combines mycotecture – a structure made of mushrooms – with electronics and decaying wood. The work is powered by solar energy and its sensors have super-sensitive “ears” that pick up every change and movement in the decomposing wood.

More info on the Trophic Verses site here.

The Helsinki Biennial site for the work can be found here.

Mustekala interview with Aleksandra Kiskonen, Saara Karhunen & Teemu Lehmusruusu,
by Anna Jensen

September 23, 2020

Mustekala online magazine's Anna Jensen had a dialogue with Aleksanda, Saara and Teemu about the artistic, and often research-based practices faced in the project. Currently only in Finnish "Trophic Verses – Säkeitä ravintoketjulta. Keskustelu uteliaisuudesta, anteliaisuudesta ja yhdessä ihmettelystä. " Please read the article at Mustekala website.

Maiju Hukkanen's Stirrers – Möyhentäjät installation at Viikki fields, Helsinki

July 22, 2020

We are happy to announce the opening of Maiju Hukkanen's new installation at Viikki fields in Helsinki. The outdoor installation consists of textile print and metal structure and will be on display until end of August 2020.

"My understanding of soil life is probably as narrow as that of most of us. I wanted to draw something more than just an enabler of growth and an instrument – an entity itself. Complexity that lives and changes regardless of us. Layers and crossings and beings that fit into a fistful of soil."

For the research part of her project, Maiju collaborated with the Helsinki University soil science laboratory. The original image is a charcoal drawing and will be presented later this year on a separate occasion at the Soil at Risk symposium.

More info here.

Curator Saara Karhunen and artist Laura Soisalon-Soininen lands at Kilpiä farm

June 16, 2020

Curator Saara Karhunen and artist Laura Soisalon-Soininen, start the process for the new project to be presented in summer 2021 at the Kilpiä farm hosted by Iiris and Tuomas Mattila. Here in the picture Tuomas is introducing the artistic team to the self-built sensor-system that aims to produce data about the soils condition during the growing season.

Kilpiä Organic Farm is a private research and experimental farm that cultivates organic cereals and fruits, commences sustainable forestry and advisory and educational services. The farm is located in Pusula, in the village of Tölli.

House of Polypores at Helsinki Biennial postponed to summer 2021

April 1, 2020

Due to the exceptional global situation caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), the opening date of Helsinki Biennial will be postponed. The first Helsinki Biennial will be held in the unique surroundings of Vallisaari Island 12.6.–26.9.2021.

Teemu Lehmusruusu’s hybrid artwork House of Polypores (2021) integrates natural processes and biomaterials research with sound. It “listens” to decaying trees and converts their sounds into organ installation.

Find more about the upcoming project at Helsinki Biennial

Documentation show of Maatuu uinuu henkii (Respiration Field) at Helsinki Design Week

September 5, 2019

A documentational exhibition of the processes and concepts behind the environmental installation Maatuu uinii henkii (Respiration Field) can be seen at Helsinki Design Week 2019: Learning Climate for the period of 5–15 September. Thank you for inviting and making the exhibition possible HDW & Artek! 

Find HDW19 here.

Maatuu uinuu henkii (Respiration Field)
open at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden Helsinki

July 1, 2019

Teemu Lehmusruusu's environmental installation will be sensing the soil breathing and photosynthesis through July and August in Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden. The installation consists of five sculptural, hand molded and colored glass vessels that function as CO2 measurement chambers, surrounded by a mix of soil improving seedlings and operating with its own solar power station. Every half an hour the installation goes into an active phase and play the sound and light of respiration.

See more here.

Subsoil performed at Kiilan Äänipäivät in Kemiönsääri

June 15, 2019

Sound artists Felicity Mangan and Christina Ertl-Shirley perform their new work, Subsoil, as live concert in Kiilan Äänipäivät. The concert is a musical approach to the aesthetics and dynamics of soil life and materiality.

More on the website.

Maiju Hukkanen is starting her trophic quest along the soil workshops of Qvidja

June 12, 2019

Artist Maiju Hukkanen (b. 1985) is joining the Trophic Verses project starting June 2019. She will be producing a soil life inspired drawn tableaux, a wallpaper art work that will be launched in spring 2020. Hukkanen has studied in Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki and her main medium is drawing.

Parent Matter installation publicized
in Helsinki

November 28, 2018

Teemu Lehmusruusu's Parent Matter installation marks the first published work in the Trophic Verses project, as well as a new commission to the EMMA Museums collection. The installation utilizes materials that are left over in human's land use, such as clay from ditch digging, stones from house foundations and aspen fallen in a public park where it cannot dacompose. The video simulations are inspirited by processes of soil formation on our rocky planet: weathering, mycelium/root grow and photosynthesis. Poems by Pauliina Haasjoki.

The work can be seen at Eteläesplanadi 18, Helsinki. The installation runs around the clock, but the space can be enter only between 9am and 4pm.

For more information visit EMMA's website.

Excerpt from artist interview. Ari Karttunen / EMMA

Welcome Aleksandra Kiskonen

October 4, 2018

Aleksandra contributes to the project in the form of 'Excerpts from the Field Diary'. Among other things, the approach consists of observations, notes, reflections, key words and questions in the course of the journey. Additionally, Aleksandra provides the project with curatorial support.

Aleksandra Kiskonen is a writer, researcher and experience collector. Currently she is pondering on language, materials, feminism and friendship. The relation between micro and macro, abstract and concrete, part and whole has intrigued her for years and still does. Aleksandra is currently enrolled in the Praxis Master's Programme (Exhibition studies) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland.

Field_Notes workshop at
Kilpisjärvi Biological Station

September 17, 2018

Teemu Lehmusruusu is joining a group of philosophers, scientists and artists for a workshop arranged by the Finnish Bioart Society at Kilpisjärvi Biological Station. The HUMUS Sapiens work group, hosted by Marc Dusseiller, includes Toru Oyama, Aravin Chakravarthi, Heather Davis, Antti Salminen and Teemu Lehmusruusu.

The aim of the group is to create a shared sensitivity of soil and the processes in soils. While the landscape around Kilpisjärvi might look monotonous from afar, getting more closer to it and dig into the ground itself might unveil another level of diversity and myriads of activities, insensible to us humans, on an ultra micro-localized scale. How do this microscopic ecosystem below the ground reveal themselves on the macro-landscape? What are the processes which form and inform the soil? How can we formulate a human–soil-relationship?

For more information visit Finnish Bioart Society.

Trophic Verses going doctoral

September 10, 2018

Teemu Lehmusruusu starts the doctoral programme at the Aalto ARTS research field of Contemporary Art. The art-practise-led research consists of the outcomes of the Trophic Verses project as well as of a written thesis on the philosophy of the earthly encounters. The dissertation is planned to be published by 2023.

For more information visit Aalto University.

Soil on a rocky planet

August 28, 2018

A commissioned work for EMMA Museum's collections will be published in the end of November. The installation consists of pico-projections on free formed glass objects, clay and mineral-rich aspen, and is inspired by the speculative early stages of soil formation on our rocky planet. The installation is having it’s premiere at SEB lobby (Eteläesplanadi 18, 00130 Helsinki), 26th November onwards.

Felicity Mangan & Christina Ertl-Shirley start working on soil music at Qvidja

August 9, 2018

Early August marks the first field work week of the autumn in Trophic Verses project. We are exploring the fundamentals of soil life and interspecies creativity with sound artists Felicity Mangan and Christina Ertl-Shirley at the Qvidja ecological test site situated in Parainen, Finland. For the moment we are primarily working to create a voyage into soil’s soundcape, equipped with sensors and imagination.

Felicity Mangan is an Australian sound artist and composer based in Berlin, Germany since 2008. In different situations such as solo performance, collaborative projects with other musicians or installation, Felicity plays her found native Australian animal archive, either through stereophonic system or often via hand-made speakers made from re-cycled or displaced objects.

Christina Ertl-Shirley works with sound in form of sound installation, radioplays, concerts. workshops and radiofeatures by putting experimental sound and sorytelling into a dialogue. In her project plants and empire she deals with soundsproduction with plants, utilizing this sounds to narrate cultural and colonial stories around plants and to engage with the entaglement of culture and nature.

Joining the streering group of Carbon
Action pilot project

April 5, 2018

Teemu Lehmusruusu/Trophic Verses is invited to be an artist
member in the Carbon Action steering group to have a view into the field of Finnish soil science. Carbon Action is a pilot project that aims to find ways to speed up the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere into agricultural soil, to verify the soil-carbon sequestration scientifically, and to make climate smart farming practices widespread in Finland.

The scientific research in Carbon Action is coordinated by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. LUKE, SYKE and the University of Helsinki are taking part in the research network, which is developed and expanded with science workshops and discussions.

A group of one hundred voluntary farms, willing to promote research on carbon sequestration and to introduce research-related practices in Finland, are admitted to the pilot project.

Read more about Carbon Action.

Trophic Verses funded by Koneen Säätiö –
Kone Foundation

December 8, 2017

We are very happy to announce the beginning of the four-year artistic project into the life, phenomena and philosophy of soil. Kone Foundation is funding the artistic work in the project consisting of permanent position of artsist Teemu Lehmusruusu, as well as annually invited artist(s) and curator/writer to contribute from the viewpoint of their own artistic, curatorial or philosophical practise.

The project is produced and managed by Telling Tree art+rsrch, and it's main partners are Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) and Ilmatieteenlaitos (Finnish Meteorological Institute). The project will start April 2018 and run until the end of 2021.

Read more about Kone Foundation.

Copyright Telling Tree art+rsrch 2019.