61°36'45.2"N 21°26'39.0"E

I just can’t remember longer than last September

Athanasía Aarniosuo

Description of work

My project in September 2019 in Reposaari involved searching for examples of so-called invasive plant species. I wanted to explore Reposaari by walking. Reposaari is home to more than 70 plant species, which are not native to Finland. These invasive plants have spread and grown from seeds which travelled to the island in ships’ ballast. I picked seven plant species which are among the most common and drew little watercolours of them; a reference to old educational plant drawings. I walked for three hours and managed to find four of my chosen plants, while thinking about issues such as assumed human superiority and the need to categorise the other by inventing taxonomies, and also invasive species as a metaphor for migration and finding oneself in a new, unfamiliar and often unwelcoming place.

Coordinates of the plants I managed to find:

61.612558, 21.444157
61.613382, 21.445619
61.612056, 21.445830
61.611268, 21.446779

As the project focused on searching rather than finding, for the fourth Pori Biennale I thought it would be important to re-create the process for the audience. I planned on creating a map with coordinates, drawings and photos of the seven most common plants, so the visitors could go on a stroll to try to find the plants themselves. As everything has now changed, including our lives and our plans, I have found myself thinking more about the meaning of experiences and memories. What I thought important about last September changes every time I tell the story. So, I wrote a poem.

The quote is from Brian Eno’s song “Everything Merges with the Night.”


I have studied Art History at the University of Helsinki and Fine Art Printmaking at Aberdeen’s Gray’s School of Art. I am currently a first-year master’s student in the ViCCA (Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art) program of Aalto University.

I have exhibited my work in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Finland, Scotland, Greece, Estonia, Canada, Lithuania, Bulgaria and the United States. For the past two years, I have been working on a series of solo exhibitions, on the theme of escapism and sea as a metaphor for escapistic tendencies. The exhibitions of the series are ”The Big Ship” in Uusi Kipinä, Lahti (July 2018), “The Ship Song” in Galleria Rantakasarmi, Helsinki (November 2018), “On Some Faraway Beach” in Café Bar No 9, Helsinki (February 2019), “Drifting” in bookstore O Meteoritis (May 2019) and “After Wave” in Galleria K, Vantaa (November 2019).

I have worked at artist residencies in Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Finland and Canada between 2010–2019. I am a member of the Association of Finnish Printmakers, Grafia (the association of visual communication designers in Finland) and Vantaa Artists’ Association.

I set out to explore the island alone.
I don’t often care much for company
when I’m thinking, or looking, or absorbing.

Besides, I didn’t think the others liked me much.
All my worries made my head heavy.

Prior to arriving, I had read somewhere
that the island was home to many invasive plant species.
Here’s a current research topic, I thought,
political and eco-conscious.

I set out to find the plants,
not all of them, just seven.

I looked at the sea;
I felt like I was betraying her.
But the sea is everywhere.
She is not of a place;
she is an escape from all places.

I sat by her and drew my plants.
Little romantic watercolours,
the kind I used to draw for my school reports.

I wandered.
I found nothing.
I strolled some more.
I started to feel as invasive as the plants I tried to locate,
as unwanted.

Someone waved at me from a distance.
No use in pretending I didn’t notice,
too late for that.
Time for some casual chitchat,
I thought, defeated.

The stranger was an outsider, too, I discovered.
Seven years on the island
and still the originals didn’t approve of her,
still didn’t consider her local.

We walked side by side.
She pointed out all the plants to me,
one by one.

Could I have done it without her help?
Could I have found all the plants by myself?
Probably not all, definitely not within the given time.

I know not what I set out to find,
I know not what I found.
All I know, is that every time I tell the story,
another part of it seems important.

“I stand on the beach
Giving out descriptions
Different for everyone I see
Since I just can't remember
Longer than last September.”