Small Talk #13: The Company We Keep, The Cup We Share

Michaela Casková


Opening of the exhibition: Tuesday 6 February, 18–20

This exhibition is composed of works derived from last year's foraging and weathering adventures, woven with routines and chores; it’s a choreography between steaming pans, shaken liquids, and dripping pigments in jars. And walking. Repeatedly walking through layers of landscapes, always having something in a pocket—and in the best case scenario—someone with whom to walk and share. Plants, clay, as well as kitchen leftovers (a by-product of cooking a large amount of soup) leak into the space and the displayed materials. I’ve returned to meadows and forests, kept an eye on the weather, taken or been taken out for foraging trips, and shared my fascination for experimenting with gathered materials. Hues either soak into paper or yarn. Making perpetual soup is about sharing time:  sharing seats at the table, and a cup of something warm and colourful. Hues stain fingertips and clothes, and find their place in carefully marked colour charts of Places.

I have kept a weather diary for years now, in which I obsessively record details about foraging trips and extracted materials in relation to the weather. To me, talking about the weather today means expressing concern and care about our shared futures. The weather rakes a fruitful ground for metaphors. Is weather-based small talk a conversation starter exactly because it doesn’t reveal the complete story, but allows opening up and bonding over shared universal experiences? What do we really talk about when we talk about the weather? For me, it’s a way to connect my life and work with others, to stay grounded in the world, and to get to know people based on how they frame their experience of what is happening outside our doors. It’s as simple as this blue wall, painted with leftover juices from cooking red cabbage, that will be eaten with dumplings on a freezing and snowy day in the beginning of February.

When making a selection of weather notes to include in this exhibition, the connecting points became quite clear. What is important are moments of foraging and preserving; being and working with weather; getting excited; and melding my kitchen with a laboratory. I sometimes wait months and years for how things will turn out, biding time by engaging with the many skilled people around me through walks and magic; listening and learning; experimenting; dancing around jars, vessels, bowls, steaming pans, and a shared cup of something; sniffing flavours that stimulate visual and haptic sensations. All of this—and the experience of wet socks—is implemented in my work. And in this moment, my work is also about raising a potion-filled glass to all those times we spent together, or sipping a colourful broth and admiring its shade while engaging in small talk.

The works for this exhibition have been thought through and composed in dialogue with close friends, a process of articulating common interests which is a vital part of many of my friendship-bonds. The many vessels here are representations of equipment used by friends, as well as in the many kitchens I have used in recent years, for dyeing, cooking soups, and inventing drinks. Vessels are an invitation to take a seat at the table. Of note are vessels used by curator Katie Lenanton in her ongoing project Bar Tender.  For several years, we’ve excitedly exchanged foraging and experimentation experiences, and now Katie has developed a custom drink in conversation with me and my artworks. Additionally, many people and friends from near and far have joined my experiments through walks, conversations, gatherings, and gazing outside the kitchen table window. I would like to thank the forest for hosting thousands of encounters during foraging missions, especially around Kainuu. And to all those who cared to share a cup of something colourful with me—they are many. In particular: Miina, red cabbage, Katie, walnut, Hanna, sheep, Astri, rosehip, beetroot, Selina, onion, Nyyskä, rotten mushrooms, Zuzu, elderberry, Romanka, buckthorn, Alma, birch, Marta, nettles, linden leaves, Sarah, midsummer herbs, Livka, webcap mushroom family, and many others.


Michaela Casková (she/her) is a visual artist, educator, nomadic gardener, host, friend, and forager who keeps an eye on atmospheric events. Walking, observing, listening, mapping, and collecting are some of her tools. Motivated by processes of sharing and learning, Michaela is constantly flowing between collaborative and interdisciplinary projects. Many of her projects involve not only long term observations and processes but also care, hospitality, and the art of companionship. Sometimes she cooks soup, sometimes takes you for a walk with a basket, sometimes you are invited to take part in the artistic process, sometimes the result is a workshop for various audiences... or a little conversation.

Michaela’s Small Talks project is based on fascination, conversations, and everydayness. Through observing and monitoring weather phenomenas, she redefines the topic of weather from that of a scientific probability calculation based on accurate data, to an exhibition of visual and sensory metaphors that trace time and tell the stories we are living—our social weather.

As a member of Mustarinda association (Finland), she focuses on projects related to the socio-ecological transformation of society through connecting contemporary art with multidisciplinary research, and hosting residency programs, educational and publishing activities.

Special guests in the exhibition

Curator Katie Lenanton will serve drinks created in conversation with Michaela’s artworks at the opening on Tuesday 6 February from 18–20.

The launch of Paola Jalili’s new Ei Mainoksia, Kiitos! publication featuring Alejandra Alarcón and Naya Magaliou will take place on Thursday 8 February from 18–20.

Documentation from the opening event. Images by Al McEwen


Exhibition views and details. Documentation images by Liina Aalto-Setälä