Visited Theater Academy Dance department solo-demo evening by invitation of Matilda. The night included eight pieces in an almost 5 hour long potpourri.
Aino Purhoses “Never place a body in another body of water” was a solid start. She invited the audience to plant their feet in buckets of water while she played with water using various containers. The most striking moment was when she power-stirred plain water using a blender and then touched the moving water in the blender with her hand and face. I felt connected to her through my wet feet. She sang an improvised tune and curled inside an inflatable children’s water pool.
Riikka Laurilehto performed a piece which was framed with the text “Most of the materials used in this performance are not mine. It’s just another hybrid”. She worked with plastic toys, wore a jaguar bodysuit and sang. A Kaoss Pad 2 was used as an effect (Delay 29 spotted!). A humorous piece which felt inspired by The Queer Futurity of Plastic (2014) by Heather Davis.
Both of the pieces mentioned here were very similar to standard performance art pieces (single concept gestures, 20min and light hearted self-exposure to emphasize with). But as the artists were brilliant and fit dancer bodies everything looked a tad too perfect. The rest of the pieces were more standard contemporary dance (floorwork, tremors, intensive gazes and everyday choreography performed in an acrobatic manner).
Matilda’s piece was one of the best ones. She positioned the audience inside black squares which had been drawn on the floor using tape. Then she started with a warm up in semi-darkness (which looked elegant, lamps reflected reddish hues). After this she performed small breathing movements for the audience from inside a smaller black square. She was in an intimate relationship with her movements and we were invited to participate in her relationship to the movements – This relationship was the dance. I guess that the statement of the piece was: There is movement. Which is important.
Watching young dancers perform was a great way to tap into how young artists position themselves in regards to theory. Laurilehtos and Purhoses pieces felt like physical illustrations of new materialism and anthropogenic thinking. Because they have grown up with these theories (as artists), they know them well enough to play with their personal relationship to them. Their pieces were not about the-end-of-the-world but their relationship to allegations about the-end-of-the-world. This kind of relationship is often analysed as an ironic stance.. But I think they were just trying to be humans despite of theory.
Major updates at Ore.e Ref. main site (10 years of celebration!). The biggest structural updates are internal: Cleaned dead links, re-organized the folder structure (./media, ./praxis) and relinked files to corresponding .html pages. Also added company staff (Eleonoora Lundell, Päivi Raivio, Hanna Karppinen & Pietari Kylmälä) and reframed Ore.e Ref. as “a public utility company”. While working on the site I found a lot of cute stuff (like a copperplate sale announcement and an attempt to make an interpretation of the company logo from 2011). Also noticed that NO-CHAIR-DESIGN in featured on a top 100 design manifestos list. The site is still missing an announcement of the Meta- Collection. I’ll start working on it during the summer. I guess it will be hosted on the “projects” page.
Got a call from a random English speaking copper scavenger asking if I could buy his 100kg batch. Referred him to Niemen romukauppa and provided him with the addresses, contact details and bus schedules. This isn’t the first time Ore.e Ref. has caused strange enquiries. Once I got a call from Rick DuBois a Sea captain from Imperial Yachts. He wanted Ore.e Ref. to repair a ventilation ring while the boat was docked in Helsinki (Unfortunately Jesse was busy at the time so forwarded the commission to Kylmateras.fi). Ore.e Ref. website might look shady for creatives but it spells P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L for people who need of custom metalworks.
Visited Homage 1 at TeaK yesterday. The piece was choreographed by Janina Rajakangas, featured nine dancers and it dealt with emotions. Rajakangas explained that she was exploring dance as a stylized convention for movement which is primed by the dancers desire to portrays emotions/feelings on stage. The approach was analytical. Dancers working on stage presented themselves as emotional teflon by swapping their moods and gestures impulsively. In a dicussion after the piece Rajakangas talked about “tunteet” and “tunteiden esittäminen” but I’m not sure if she was talking about emotions, moods or feelings. The audience (consisting of dancers) talked about the piece using weird vocabulary. They asked Rajakangas if she was interested in “liikkeen laatuisuus”. This apparently meant “the formal structure of movement”. “Kehon laatuisuus” was also to describe specific muscular tensions. People were trying to sort out if the emotions the dancers portrayed were real of formal representations emotions. I don’t know.. Everything looked fake to me.
I read the piece as a critique of contemporary dance. It’s statement was: If artists can acquire emotional-teflon-skills and they truly can swap their emotions on cue or if the dancers can make the audience believe that their emotions are true by using specific gestures… Then it must mean that the emotions they perform on on stage categorically fake or that the audience is gaullable (or crazy).
The artwork was a protest against recent political efforts which seek to turn art into a social service or a tool for social wellbeing. In such plans the primary intent of art is to ease work related stress and build motivation. “Palvelus-ritual” worked very well as a protest! It claimed that if art is politically forced to serve the wellness in the public, a natural result of this process is that it becomes a faux-spiritual holistic ritual. In this future KELA (the social insurance institution offices) would have shamans as consultants and guests would have to perform spiritual dances to receive welfare benefits.
I’m preparing a 20 min speech for Hollo-institutes spring seminar on utopian-art-education by invitation of Maaretta Riionheimo (Whom I met through KOM-theater Vuosaari project). I’m working on a manifest on speculative new-material pedagogy and pushing animals to the mix too: Adjunct Professor The Awaited Son is in the game! I’ll be on stage in Gloria before professor Eeva Anttila (TeaK) and emeritus professor Kari Uusikylä. A tough mix to crack with mere artistic merits. I’ll work the crowd with pictures of horses, it never fails.
Concerning teaching.. I’ve been working actively with a group of five graduating students from the Kankaanpää Art School. I’ve been in periodic contact with them from early autumn onwards. Meetings have been organised on skype and in Helsinki. The group is very hard to reach via email and I don’t know how their plans are working out. Art students don’t know how to use email (also offered them the opportunity to look me up on snapchat, whatsapp and skype etc. but they remain distant).
Currently preparing to meet Otto Karvonen concerning a Vuosaari related art effort.
Visited TeaK Bunch performances today by invitation of Matilda Aaltonen. I’ve been watching more dance this autumn then ever before. It inspires me. There is more potential for change in dance than in performance art!
There is something unceasing in witnessing dancers illustrate internal drives with their public bodies (they become everybodies and make the audience nobodies). Dance is magnificent acts and on stage, which the artist present in an unhesitant/pro-hesistant, inhumane manner. They have no stutter – Stutter is their art. This makes them too perfect to approach. They are shielded from penetrating gazes on all fronts. There were three breaks during the two hour post-humanism inspired dance potpourri. During the breaks the movements the performers echoed in the audiences posture. Everyone ended up putting on a show, walking more steadily and concentrated then before arriving. Everyone was afraid to show their imbalances, everyone was afraid to show “they didn’t get it”. This is how institutions terrorise us and this is how we can use empathy to change the world.
I’ve started to develop dance for my kettlebell. “Workout in four parts”:
- Warm-up, kettlebell and techno making (as demoed at NPTurku for Pilvi)
- Protein-shake and kettlebell worship (for this I’ll use the stutter/poses techniques presented by Philipp Gehmacher and I’ll ask Pilvi to design a protein drink for me)
- 16kg of meat to counterbalance the 16kg kettlebell on a swing (a short transitional act between workout and cooldown phase)
- Attaching a six pack of beer on my belly with duct tape and serve the audience with alkohol
Dancer Matilda Aaltonen invited me to serve as her “mentor” in the Theater Academy Helsinki’s dance departments mentor program. The arrangement is intended to be a light and flexible relation between a student and an artist the student chooses. There is no official structure for the relationship, we can contact each other and invite each other to see shows or to talk about art. The arrangement was explained as a “mentor-light” version by one of the programs organizers. I met Matilda trough the “Horse and Performance” course we organized for the academy.
I attended a mentor-night yesterday and we had a nice chat about the differences in performance art and contemporary dance. To recap some drafty ideas we talked about:
- Dancers can find cues for their actions from within and validate their intuitions by practicing with a group. The performance artist is guided by the gazes of the audience and the structure of the site.
- Performance artists limit their exposure to what motivates them in order to approach it with out presumptions. Dancers practice and study the cues that motivate their actions rigorously before presenting artworks.
The mentor program offers me the possibility to learn more about contemporary dance and to further these enquiries. I asked Matilda to send me some articles which could help me understand dance.
I’m currently on a bus, returning from the New Performance Turku opening celebrations. I assisted Mark Harvey an artist from New Zealand with his “Playbook” book launch performance. Mark wanted people to smear his face with paint and invited them to hit him on the face with the books blank cover. He called the performance “Bookface”. The paint smudge served as the cover art. People got the book after the act.
Brought my kettlebells to Turku in preparation for the Saturday events which Pilvi Porkola is hosting. Carrying two of kettlebells from Caribia spa to the TEHDAS theater space was painful. There was alot of people at Kutomo and it was a pity to leave so soon. I chatted with Ray Langenbach and Antti Manninen for a while. There was alot of young people in the audience.