Meanings and Materialities
Conference – Exhibition

Cable Factory (Valssaamo), Helsinki
6–15 June 2024

Conference 6–8 June 

Call for papers (closed)

    Exhibition 6–15 June

    Open every day 12:00-18:00          Introduction





    The transdisciplinary event Gifts/Presents/Presence Meanings and materialities brings together scholars and artists around the ubiquitous yet ambiguous theme of the gift. Among the subjects that we want to address, both scholarly and artistically, is the temporality of the gift – the fleeting dynamics of the present’s presence and absence – and the performance of the gift in different spatial frameworks and across diverse vibrant materialities.

    This Kone-funded event will take place in the city of Helsinki, Finland, at the trendy cultural house Kaapelitehdas (an old cable factory building) and will include an exhibition curated in collaboration with Aalto University and the University of the Arts Helsinki. The event opens with a three-day multidisciplinary conference, June 6-8, 2024  accompanied by an exhibition. The exhibition will continue until June 15. 

    Our keynote speakers are Mark Graham, author of Anthropological Explorations in Queer Theory (2014); Margrit Shildrick, author of Visceral Protheses: Somatechnics and Posthuman Embodiment (2022) and Alexandra Urakova, author of Dangerous Giving in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (2022). Our guest speakers are: biophilosopher Nina Lykke, sociologist Frédéric Vandenberghe, historian Tracey Sowerby, and anthropologist Karsten Paerregaard.       

    The event is part of the research project funded by Kone Foundation. See also the project webpage.

    Marcel Mauss said that “a gift that does nothing to enhance solidarity is a contradiction.” Though we are aware that gifts may be dangerous and onerous, we follow Mauss’s lead in bringing together a community of scholars and artists from diverse backgrounds, cultures, identities, and experience. We want the world to exchange gifts instead of blows. This conference is for peace, respectful relations, and inclusiveness and against violence,  war, genocide, and exclusion in all forms. We, the organising team, do our best to make the conference a respectful environment for all participants. To make that possible, we ask you to be aware of your positionalities, treat other people in a considerate manner, and use non-violent, non-discriminating communication. Please respect the personal physical, mental and emotional space of others, listen to fellow participants with an open mind and without interrupting them, and without making assumptions e.g. about their sexuality, gender, age, religion, values, health, ability/disability. 

    The event venue Valssaamo at the Cable Factory, Helsinki