Henna Laininen, born 1980 in Espoo, Finland
Henna Laininen is a visual artist and a doctoral student at the Academy of Fine Arts (Uniarts Helsinki). She is specialized in community art and environmental questions. She often works with researchers and artists from other disciplines to compose polyphonic stories.
In her artistic research project Guide to Experimental Life – Communal Creative Writing as an Answer to the Environmental Crises (2017–) she investigates how to support the process of learning a sustainable lifestyle by the means of communal creative writing in the context of contemporary art. By communal creative writing she means making fiction by interacting with both the human and the non-human, for example site specific texts written in a certain place and weather conditions, and texts written together as a group.
The research is based on an assumption that acknowledging one ´s feelings by writing can make space for hope and environmentally-conscious action. In the first part of her research, the project Climate Change in Me (2018–2020), Laininen investigates bodily feelings related to climate change and develops creative writing based tools for dealing with eco-anxiety. The artistic part of the project, In the Meltwaters sound art series and Feeling the Climate discussion, serves as an opening of a discussion that invites the audience to listen to a fellow person’s experience of climate change. The pedagogical part of the project, the Climate Change in Me creative writing workshops and online educational material, opens up space for sharing personal experiences in a group by writing and discussing.
In the second part of her research Laininen will proceed from feelings to action. In the community art project My Climate Skills (2019–2021) she will get to know people in Finland who attempt to practice a sustainable way of life in changing climate conditions. She will study skills required for sustainable lifestyle under their guidance and produce a radio documentary series and online materials about the experience. She will compile her findings in the research publication Guide to Experimental Life (2022). During her research process Laininen will co-operate with environmental experts and Finnish eco-villages and she will consult the BIOS research unit.
Laininen is also teaching creative writing, including many genres such as essay and ecological science fiction. Her poems have been published in anthologies and she has won several poetry prizes in Finland such as J.H. Erkko prize 2005. In the year 2008 she was the Finnish candidate in the poetry slam competition The International Slam Revue in Berlin. She lives and works currently in Espoo.