Ilmakuva Eiranrannasta


Photo Petri Siikanen


The Rhizome project of the Other Spaces collective introduces schoolchildren to physical learning at the Tehtaankatu elementary school in Helsinki.

In the project, a series of experiential and physical Rhizome workshops have been implemented with school children, in which the idea of mycelium is examined through various mycelial structures and phenomena occurring in the environment, such as mushroom mycelium, the internet, gasification.

The project has been implemented in cooperation with the students and staff of HAM Helsinki Art Museum and Tehtaankatu elementary school in 2020-2023.


Rhizome Project takes a close look at various rhizome-like phenomena in our surroundings. Using collective corporeal transformation exercises developed by the Other Spaces collective, we approach different rhizomeal creatures (such as fungi and mycelia) and phenomena (for example setts and other burrows, the internet, or gas and turbulence).

The rhizome is also a model of networked thought and organization, consisting of pluralities of things, movements, directions, and free combination, instead of hierarchical organization (e.g. Gilles Deleuze, Desert Islands And Other Texts 1953-1974, Semiotext(e) 2004).


The City of Helsinki adheres to the Percent for Art principle, which means that approximately one per cent of the City’s new construction and renovation expenses are dedicated to the creation of new public art. In recent years, extensive construction efforts have made it possible to commission art for many public buildings around the city. HAM Helsinki Art Museum serves as an arts expert in these projects, and the works are added to HAM’s art collection.

Rhizome Project expands the range of Percentage for Art projects. Due to its participatory nature, the work will be included in the collection of HAM Helsinki Art Museum as a work concept. The collection will also include video documentation and a new exercise developed by the collective together with the pupils.


The first Opening Rite workshops were realized with thirteen school classes at the end of August. The workshops were held by Eiranranta shoreline close to the new temporary school building, where the school has moved to the evacuation facilities for the period of renovation of the old school building.

The letters of the alphabet were a starting point of the Opening Rite. To warm up each participant embodied the letters of their forename by using different parts of their body. A short introduction was given about the origin of the letters. Finally, each school class wrote 4-5 giant letters over the green by walking in line and striving to find a walking rhythm uniting all pupils in the class. All letters of the alphabet, physically formed together by the students of Tehtaankatu School, were filmed from above and can be used as a visual element in different ways as the project progresses.


In November 2020, Other Spaces carried out the second part of the Rhizome project. This was the first actual workshop week in the temporary school building in Eiranranta.

The theme of the Rhizome week was the basics of the Other Spaces working methods. Pupils and teachers were introduced to the collective’s working methods and thinking through the group’s classic exercises. In the workshop, mushroom mycelium was formed, spaghetti-light rays were sent, plants were germinated and we were cockroaches. A workshop lasting 1.5 hours was organized for the 17 class groups of the Tehdaankatu school, which was guided by two artists at a time. The workshops started with an introduction of the group and the Rhizome project. The point of view was brought up that usually a work of art is thought of as an object, such as a sculpture or a painting, but in this project the work of art is made together with the help of our own bodies. Some of the exercises presented different filament-like structures. The pupils were asked what rhizome could be. The answers were inspiring: fungal mycelium, tree roots, human body and humanity.

In other rooms, a corona-safe version of the mushroom mycelium exercise, one of the oldest in the group, was carried out using a carpet weave. The students were connected to each other by the weaving of a carpet into a living and breathing mushroom mycelium, in which air, nutrients, minerals and a wide variety of information travel. The pupils deepen their listening to the messages conveyed by the mycelium and the sound, the quiet rustle, created by the mycelium.

In the workshop, the pupils got to know what an earthquake feels like and how a light beam is connected in space with the help of corporeal imagination. In the most popular exercise, some of the students were cockroaches and some were human. In the exercise, human activity is examined from the perspective of a cockroach. When the residents are away, the cockroaches are allowed to party freely in the space, and when the people return, the cockroaches rush to hide in the walls.


The workshops concluded with a discussion session where participants could share their experiences. Here are some remarks made by the pupils:

”I felt like I was really a mushroom and underground.”

”I felt even the earthquake felt real.”

”I was a nice experience to notice that I can make weird sounds.”

“I felt that I really was a sunbeam.”

”It was hard not to be allowed to speak”

“Rhizome was fun because you were able to sort of rest.”

“I learned that mushrooms has those underground.”

”The mushroom-thing was nice, I had a moment to think about the meaning of life.”

”Very weird.”

“I felt like a cockroach, a crunching feeling.”

“I learned what cockroaches do at night.”

”I like that we play but learn at the same time. This was a good exercise for that.”

“Sometimes it’s good to calm down and relax.”


The pandemic has not discouraged us. The Rhizome, a collaborative project of the Other Spaces group, Tehtaankatu school and HAM, continued in April 2021.

During May Day, the third part of the Rhizome-project, i.e. the second Rhizome week, was implemented in the beautiful seascapes of Eiranranta. During the workshop week, the school’s students and teachers delved into various tendril-like structures. The classes independently watched the introduction to the world of mycelium made by the Other Spaces working group, participated in a 1,5 hour workshop one class at a time and at the end of the week, on Friday, on the Rhizome-exercise that united the whole school. The Rhizome-exercise was carried out for all classes simultaneously via the central radio.

In the mycelium presentation, students were told more about mycelium and various mycelium-like structures and phenomena were presented, such as plant roots, animal swarming, human blood vessels and nerves, geological formations and the global network formed by the internet. At the beginning of the week, the weather was cool, but at the end of the week, the sun warmed us. In the outdoor workshop, we delved into the themes presented in the presentation through exercises, such as weaving a spider’s web, shoaling of fish, human internal mycelia i.e. fascia, and the world’s largest filamentous structures, galaxy clusters. It was nice to continue working with the classes, when the students were already familiar with the themes of the project and the Other Spaces group.

The workshop also introduced the concept of a complex system with the help of two playful and game-like exercises, in which the students were part of a constantly changing entity, where each part affects each other in unpredictable ways. With the help of the vine plant Boquila trifoliolata, the students were introduced to the habit of imitating and copying each other which is characteristic for us, to humans as well.

On Friday, the Rhizome week ended in a joint workshop organized simultaneously for the whole school. Two members of the Other Spaces group guided the students and staff of the Tehtaankatu school on a research trip to the world of mycelium. The instructions were heard over the central radio and the students stayed in their own classes during the trip. During the imagination exercise, the whole school created together, using their imaginations, a fascicle growing from their own body and connecting to each other, which reached every corner of the school. It was possible to send and receive messages from members of the school community via the mycelium.

“You can send and receive messages to your school friends around the school through the network. We are all part of the same mycelium where every part is interconnected. Each part of the mycelium affects its other parts.” After the imagination trip, at the end of the workshop, all school students drew a clip of their own mycelium as part of the common mycelium, which is formed during the project.

Project Rhizome is a Percent for Art project of the City of Helsinki, and is realized in collaboration with  HAM Helsinki Art Museum and Tehtaankatu primary school.


Working group for Rhizome Project: Johanna Etelävirta, Timo Jokitalo, Eeva Kemppi, Kaisa-Liisa Logrén, Minja Mertanen, Heli Mäkinen, Anu Nirkko, Sanni Priha, Jaakko Ruuska.

Working group for Opening Rite: Johanna Etelävirta, Eeva Kemppi, Kaisa-Liisa Logrén, Minja Mertanen, Heli Mäkinen, Sanni Priha.

Dokumentation working group: photography Jaakko Ruuska, still photograpy Sanni Priha, drone photography Petri Siikanen, sound design Jarkko Kela.


Rhizome workshops with the pupis continued from 2020 until 2023.

In December 2023 a video-documentation from the project was published and handed over to the Tehtaankatu school. Tehtaankatu school also received a Battery -exercise instructions. The exercise was developed together by the pupils and Other Spaces -artists.

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Petri Siikanen

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Sanni Priha

Photo: Jaakko Ruuska

Photo: Jaakko Ruuska

Photo: Jaakko Ruuska

Photo: Jaakko Ruuska