Art & Artists

HelsinkiEnni-Kukka Tuomala

Tree tops seen from below in black and white.

Geography of Empathy

What are the emotional experiences of moving through urban landscapes?

As a part of the Together Again Festival, Geography of Empathy invites you to join a series of guided explorations of the emotional landscapes of the city. Combining the practices of psychogeography – ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals’ (Guy Debord, 1955) – and artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala’s own unique methodologies for mapping empathy between humans, and humans and non-humans, the new piece reflects on the emotional imprints of the urban experience.

Is empathy a privilege?

Geography of Empathy comes to life as two guided walks led by Tuomala; the first around the Kurkimäki suburbs in East Helsinki, and the second around the city centre of Helsinki, examining the two vastly different neighbourhoods and the visible and invisible connections between them. Using one of Tuomala’s unique empathy tools, participants will create their own Map of Emotions in response to both the built and natural environments around them. The explorations build on Tuomala’s current Campaign for Empathy x Kurkimäki-project (2023-24), realised in partnership with The Deaconess Foundation and the new Rinnekodit Silta housing unit, which as a part of Finland’s Housing First scheme offers supported living to Helsinki residents who have experienced homelessness. The campaign, which began in London in 2019, investigates the role of empathy in our communities and communal spaces. It invites the residents and staff at Silta, as well as members of the local communities, to come together to define what empathy stands for in their neighbourhoods, where it already exists and where it is needed in order to make space for more empathic, emotionally connected and equitable interactions to help us better understand each other’s unique experiences and perspectives.

Geography of Empathy – Walk in Kurkimäki (in Finnish), 7.9.2023, 17:30-19:00, starting from Kontula metro station

Geography of Empathy – Walk in central Helsinki (in English), 8.9.2023, 17:30-19:00, starting at the entrance of Oodi Library

The maximum number of participants is limited to 15 per walk, we will confirm your participation by email.

Register for a Geography of Empathy walk.


How does it feel to share public space?

To accompany the two guided walks taking place in Helsinki, Enni-Kukka Tuomala has created a new Geography of Empathy sound piece. The composition is designed to be experienced in an urban public space and can be listened to anywhere in the world. The piece serves as a sonic guide, leading you through a sequence of contemplative thought experiments that encourage you to respond to your surroundings, reflect on both the built and natural environments around you, and to rethink your relationship with your city. It was recorded on-site across the Kurkimäki suburbs and Helsinki city centre.

Listen to the piece below and on soundcloud.



About the Artist

Enni-Kukka-TuomalaEnni-Kukka Tuomala is a Finnish empathy artist based in London. Her vision is to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a radical and collective power for social and environmental change to fight the growing global empathy deficit. Tuomala’s multidisciplinary and research-based practice investigates the delicate relationships between empathy, culture, systems and space. At the core of her practice are spatial and sculptural artworks and public interventions that imagine new environments for connection, invite participation, and create intimate moments with oneself, other humans and non-humans, and the environment.

Tuomala has been examining the relationship between empathy and power in Finland and the UK since 2018. The Campaign for Empathy x Kurkimäki (2023-24) is a part of this growing body of work and research, which began through a collaboration with The Parliament of Finland. Recently Tuomala adopted the role of ‘election artist’ for the Finnish Parliamentary and Presidential Elections and travelled across the 13 Electoral Districts in the final week before the election in April 2023. The Election Artist-project (2023-24) aims to document the current political climate around the country through a growing audio-visual archive and a series of new artworks.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Imperial College London and The University of Oxford, Tuomala’s work has been presented at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tate Liverpool, The Design Museum, and Kettle’s Yard, to name a few. In 2021 she represented Finland at the London Design Biennale with the ‘Empathy Echo Chamber’ installation, created in collaboration with the Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland, inviting over 1,000 visitors to share an intimate moment with a stranger.

Visit Enni-Kukka Tuomala’s website and instagram.

Enni Kukka Tuomala photographed by Jonathan Chan.