The Presence of Absence


My current practice engages with how people in Lapland are adapting to traumatic change in the Arctic. My understanding is that those who are holistically connected to this frontline territory can determine how we might adapt to our crisis now and in the future. 


My arts and academic research is being facilitated by a grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 2022. I'll work with scholars and artists at the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi. This is followed by a 12-month Postdoctoral Arts Fellowship at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS) from August. My arts research develops my doctorate ‘Emotional truths in documentary making’ (2019) about recognising empathy as a creative process to explore traumatic memories. My approach is led by considered decolonial strategies supported by empathetic engagement. Work processes are collaborative and measured by mutual consent.


I'll research themes of cyclical time, migration and memory in the context of trauma of loss. I’ll develop a concept I call the ‘presence of absence’ while citing two key criteria:

  • How memory evidences and maintains the presence of what is absent or lost within traumatic contexts.
  • How holistic beliefs suggesting ineffable phenomena simultaneously define what is present and absent in natural environments.

We’ve become familiar with end of times stories associated with the Anthropocene. But how we colour our memories and hopes for the future is up to us. I want to ask how the presence of absence may assist in understanding and learning to live with impacts of the climate crisis.