Esitystaiteen perusteet -kurssikooste

Kooste sisältää tehtävänantoja, suorituksia, opiskelijoiden kirjoittamia muistiinpanoja ja keskustelun rippeitä. Aineistoa käytettiin Kankaanpään taidekoulun Esitystaiteen perusteet -kurssin opetuksessa, johon osallistui kaksi perättäistä vajaan 15 opiskelijan ryhmää ja etäopiskelijoita. Kolmiviikkoinen kurssi on pakollinen ensimmäisen vuosikurssin opiskelijoille. Ohjelma pyrki kehittämään osallistujien kykyä purkaa ja lukea erilaisia yhteiskunnassa toistuvia esityksiä sekä kehittämään taiteilija-ammatin vaatimia esiintymistaitoja. Esiintymistaidoista on hyötyä kun tekee taiteellista työskentelyään ymmärrettäväksi kollegoille, perheenjäsenille ja muulle yleisöille. Esiintymistä käsiteltiin laaja-alaisesti puimalla historiallisia poliittisia puheenvuoroja, performanssitaideteoksia ja osallistujien kurssin aikana toistamia arkirutiineja.

Ohjelmaa rytmittivät liikunnalliset harjoitukset, joilla pyrittiin vahvistamaan osallistujien kehotietoisuutta. Aamut alkoivat joko yhteisillä tansseilla tai venyttelyillä ja ryhmät suorittivat päivittäin kontakti-improvisaatioharjoitteita. Koulussa toteutetun opetuksen lisäksi ryhmät toimivat Kankaanpään liikuntakeskuksessa ja työskentelivät muutamaan otteeseen kaupunkitilassa. Liikepohjaista työskentelyä ohjasi pyrkimys harjaantua tunnistamaan kuinka keho vaikuttuu ympäristöstä, säistä ja toisista ihmisistä. Tätä kautta yritettiin hahmottaa miten ympäristö vaikuttaa sosiaaliseen kanssakäymiseen. Menettelyllä pyrittiin kehittämään valmiuksia ymmärtää kuinka taideteokset, kuten veistokset, maalaukset, valokuvat ja arkkitehtuuri ohjaavat havaintoja, ajattelua ja käytöstä. Ohjelmaan kuulunut luento tarkasteli performatiivisuuden käsitettä eri nykytaiteen suuntausten ja merkkiteosten kautta.

Koosteessa on mukana esitystaiteen perusteet etäkurssin kurssitehtävät, joita myös osa kontaktiopetukseen osallistuneista on tehnyt korvatakseen poissaoloja. Laatikkoihin kootut tekstit ovat viikottaisia tehtävänantoja, joita ryhmille jaettiin. Näiden alla on opiskelijoiden suorittamat tehtävät sekä linkkejä teoksiin, joihin viitattiin keskusteluissa. Harjoitteita ja niiden purkuja ei ole esitelty tässä asiakirjassa, koska tämä on tarkoitettu ensisijaisesti muistiinpanoksi ja arkistoksi. Koosteen avulla voi toivottavasti palauttaa mieleen opetuksessa viitattuja taideteoksia, kirjallisuutta ja harjoitusten kulkua. Kurssi päättyi molempien ryhmien osalta ryhmissä suunniteltuihin yhteisharjoituksiin, joiden kehittelyn rippeitä on tallennettu asiakirjaan. Osallistujat arvioivat omaa oppimistaan ja antoivat työskentelylleen kurssiarvosanat opetuksen päättäneissä henkilökohtaisissa palautekeskusteluissa.

Osa performanssiharjoitteista on napattu suoraan Pilvi Porkolan toimittamasta Performance Artist’s Workbook (2017) kirjasta. Performatiivisuutta käsittelevä luento-osuus pohjasi teoriasisällöiltään Richard Schechnerin Performance studies an Introduction – Chapter 5: Performativity (2002-2013) oppikirjaan. Suomennettu nimellä Johdatus esitystutkimukseen (2016). Kurssi käytti opetusaineistona kahta suomalaista performanssitaidekokoelmaa; T.E.H.D.A.S ryn luomaa D-Ark arkistoa, jossa teoksia yli 30 vuoden ajalta sekä New Performance Turku -festivaalin videokanavaa. Arkistoista löytyviä taideteoksia sovellettiin myös opetuksessa toistamalla esityksissä käytettyjä koreografioita ja perehtymällä taideteoksiin liikkeen kautta. Edellisistä kursseista saa otteen blogin aikaisemmista. Kurssin vastuuopettajana oli Tuomas Laitinen, joka sijaisti Aapo Korkeaojaa.

20220106

Tunnel Vision (2021) Eyal Weizman. A good update to Weizmans writings on the Israeli Defence Forces utilization of critical theory, postcolonial and urban studies. The article offers a very revealing interview of Israeli chief of general staff Aviv Kochavi (from which the quote below).

This space that you look at, this room that you look at, is nothing but your interpretation. Now, you can stretch the boundaries of your interpretation, but not in an unlimited fashion – after all, it must be bound by physics, as it contains buildings and alleys. The question is, how do you interpret the alley? Do you interpret it as a place, like every architect and every town planner does, to walk through, or do you interpret it as a place forbidden to walk through? This depends only on interpretation. We interpreted the alley as a place forbidden to walk through, and the door as a place forbidden to pass through, and the window as a place forbidden to look through, because a weapon awaits us in the alley, and a booby trap awaits us behind the doors. […] I said to my troops: ‘Comrades! This is not a matter of your choice! There is no other way of moving! If until now you were used to moving along roads and sidewalks, forget it! From now on we all walk through walls!’

A Frame Finland post Reflecting on Gathering for Rehearsing Hospitalities offers two essays discussing the Rehearsing Hospitalities programme. So far I’ve only read the Mike Watson Staying in the Liminal Space Between Politics and Art (2021). They have selected important works from the recent Artsi museum Secured – Politics of Bodies and Space -exhibition for grounding their analysis. Particularly like how they read Sepideh Rahaa’s performance as an effort to motivate Finnish artists and art institutions to begin working with our involvement in conflicts in West Asia. The essay feels weirdly lodged between reading as a proper critique and being a commissioned review.

The long-touted and perpetually delayed invasion of Iran – discussed by multiple US administrations for decades – will likely also be discussed in art spaces should it ever happen, though we would perhaps do better to protest it in front of parliament for its duration. Is our problem as ‘political art professionals’ (a strange and contradictory category that by now surely exists) that we are trying too hard to do art specifically as a means of not doing protest? I think Rahaa intended very clearly to ask this – with the Artsi museum and Frame facilitating the question.

Trying to read Social Ecology and Democratic Confederalism (2020) which is “a reader from Make Rojava Green Again in cooperation with the association of the students from Kurdistan YXK and JXK “. The writings by Murray Bookchin feel less potent then how his work is discussed in the Social Ecology and the Critique of Hierarchy 2020 series by srsly wrong. I like the concept of nature he offers and particularly how it is deployed to prove false the assumption that being indoors and surrounded by technology would somehow separate habitants from nature. Perhaps Kochavi has been reading Bookchin too, because the room I’m in is only an interpretation, working to convince me that I’m civilized.

Human beings always remain rooted in their biological evolutionary history, which we may call “first nature,” but they produce a characteristically human social nature of their own, which we may call “second nature.” Far from being unnatural, human second nature is eminently a creation of organic evolution’s first nature. To write second nature out of nature as a whole, or indeed to minimize it, is to ignore the creativity of natural evolution itself and to view it one-sidedly.

The Tyranny of Stuctureless (1970) Joreen. A manifest urging people involved with working groups aiming for the women’s liberation movement to define clear articulated aims to work towards. The critique Joreen provides works well for maintaining focus in politically geared artist lead initiatives too. I’m reading it as a critique of managerialism: Working for well articulated goals, is be more efficient (and can be more healing), then using energy for processes which assess the premisses that motivate people to come together.

When a group has no specific task (and consciousness raising is a task), the people in it turn their energies to controlling others in the group. This is not done so much out of a malicious desire to manipulate others (though sometimes it is) as out of a lack of anything better to do with their talents. […] When a group is involved in a task, people learn to get along with others as they are and to subsume personal dislikes for the sake of the larger goal. There are limits placed on the compulsion to remold every person in our image of what they should be.

20211230

I don’t know much about leadership but I do know about teaching and have worked in self governed groups. I assume that leadership and teaching are related and suspect both are about balancing listening to others and articulating personal desires. Both require accountability. I’m curious about leadership which would be structured by values.

Value based leadership sounds better in Finnish: Arvojohtaminen. In Finnish the term sounds like it’s not only about leaning on shared values of a work community for defining organizational goals but equally about defining values and imagining futures where the values would prevail. For me politics is about calling forth a public from the mass of folk we’ve been made into by history and deciding where to head next. Value-based leadership or rather leadership by values would then be a process of reaching to this public, to remind each other about shared ambitions and dreams. We are all worried about the future which is why being reminded why we are working together gives hope and comfort.

Leadership which is set by values is scary because one might fail in articulating the ambitions and dreams a community shares or even worse one might reveal that their values are not inline with the current mood of a group. This gives the public just cause to scrutinize the speakers role in the organization. I imagine this is why hierarchical organizations are seldom led with values, the democratic processes of constant reevaluation would strain them. Hence the group is steered by a “mission” which does not require individuals working to achieve it to share (or commit to work on) values. It’s enough that members are managed, that the time and budget they spend gets measured. The aim is to work in a fluidity where no one needs to think or say what they believe in. Work is viewed as something not political.

Just as the terrorists wanted, everyone else was left feeling unsafe.

The Kankaanpää terrorist group was caught during the same time I was teaching a performance art course for first semester students at the Kankaanpää Art School. News of the arrest came to light on a Sunday, halfway through our intensive course. The far-right group, consisting of five young men, was defined as an accelerationist cell and it was broadly speculated that they had been planning an attack. Any potential target they might have had has not been revealed by the police. I continued with classes the following week and referred to the arrest in anecdotes but didn’t engage with the news systematically. Not a lot was (or is) known of the group’s intentions. There were rumours circulating that the school could have been a potential target because members of the terrorist cell had attacked students a few years back.

Students were stressed and very critical to how the school and I were addressing the situation. It must have appeared that we, the staff were intentionally silent about the affair. We had a crisis talk with the student group on Wednesday and on Thursday the executive director, rector of the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) Jari Multisilta held a meeting for all the Art School students and staff. Students voiced their criticism and desires bravely. They wanted the school to respond to the news and to take their concerns seriously. The meeting was followed by a session next Monday facilitated by art department team leader Matti Velhonoja, where students and the staff could further discuss and share their feelings. Both events worked well for voicing concerns and coming to terms with news. But discussions in both forums focused on technical matters: What kind of security measures or protocols should be implemented, how frequent should emergency evacuation drills be held and should student privileges, such as having access to school woodworking facilities after hours, be revised.

I think the focus on technical matters is a symptom of a deep issue: When leadership is not rooted in values, concerns over safety get handled by discussing technical matters. In short, instead of using the public forums we had for strengthening our sense of solidarity and confronting terror, we discussed whether more security cameras should be installed on the art school campus roof. Retrospectively, we were petrified by the potential of violence and resolved our unease by dabbling with optics. Discussing right wing terror, the threat students feel in Kankaanpää or in the becoming Finland and how should we organize to combat fear would have required work. The outspoken students who provided the strongest criticism of the school institutions response, detailed that their views were rooted in prior experience with right wing extremism. I believe that if the terror threat and the experiences students have had would have been discussed in an unhierarchical manner —leaning to their expertise— we could have reached something immensely more constructive.

This would have required us all to commit to the school from a different, perhaps deeply personal stance. It felt like none of us in the staff had a mandate to fully address the needs of the students. Even so, instead of retreating back to a numbing fluidity where differences are pushed aside with managerial apparatuses, we should use the momentum for reframing our ambitions and dreams: What do we want from art and art education when faced with terror? Where do we want to head from here? The only sign of a fighting spirit in the sessions was a cry “No Nazis at Kankaanpää, No Nazis at all” by Antti Ahonen. It felt energizing but did anyone believe it? Who amongst us was committed in confronting terror and how would our efforts be most effective?

Its not a coincidence that the terrorist cell was formed in Kankaanpää, the region most supportive of the far right Finns party and it is horrible that locals who have been interviewed by nationwide media outlets have downplayed the severity of the case. When the terrorists were released from pre-trial detention, a local Finns representative Teuvo Roskala published a post in which he celebrated their return to Kankaanpää as if they where national treasures. In this landscape the art school is a beacon of hope for young artists. Discussions with SAMK department heads framed the art school as a “bubble” which is dislodged from its surroundings. This was offered as a partial explanation for the sense of alienation students expressed. This should not be a mindset for reading students reactions.

Security devices will not resolve the problem, because the problem isn’t security, the problem is the prevailing managerial ethos which enables organisations to function without articulating values they are working for. The city of Kankaanpää and SAMK should layout measures they are planning to deploy in-order to countermeasure the increasing far right threat. The Finns party’s reactions to the terrorist case should be publicly scrutinized by people who lead public institutions, in areas where they have been voted into power. What does SAMK dream of in the wake of these events?

On a broader scale I want to investigate how art education should respond to rising right wing extremism. What does it mean to be an art student in a hostile environment? If fear is not confronted and the sense of security strengthened, the process will cause immeasurable harm. Can or should we work towards establishing pedagogical guidelines for confronting violent political movements? Education is nothing but political. It is an expression of a humanitarian belief that personal and societal change is possible. Every teaching event is a sincere attempt to become better, more just, more grounded and that we will achieve a brighter future by becoming more compassionate.

I also remembered writing about Kankaanpää and the Finns Party a few years back. There is a definite trajectory between Finns-party and far right extremists, which should be taken seriously. The following week I draw an angry Moomin character and attached it to to the window of the staff flat overseeing the market square from where it condemns violence. It’s not much but it’s what I could do.

20211128

“Direct action always returns us to basic questions of politics.” argues James Butler in a harsh critique of Andreas Malm: A Coal Mine for Every Wildfire (2021). The text offers a nice recap of Malm’s thinking and illustrates their attempts to dismantle fossil infrastructure as a borderline techo-utopian fantasy. The article provides a thorough summary of a recent book White Skin, Black Fuel co-written by Malm and the Zetkin Collective. I agree with Butler that activist-gestures are pedagogical: “There will be no flashpoint in the climate crisis, no moment with a self-revealing logic so clear as to be incontestable. Direct action can be a form of pedagogy, but it requires allies in press and politics” but I think they are reading Malm too literally; manifestos (and activist performances) are for building momentum, they are not intended to steer political movement. Also investigating climate change as a weapon of mass destruction is a potent approach.

They [Malm and the Zetkin Collective] see ‘fossil fascism’ as an emergent political formation, linking ‘primitive’ fossil capital – direct extractors, which can’t survive divestment – with racist politics. Aware of the slipperiness of definitions of fascism, they stick with the term because their new postulate has many of its hallmarks: fantasies of a nation purified of parasitical degenerates and outsiders; an indifference to mass death; emergence in an emergency where significant established economic powers are threatened.

[…] If only we knew, we would act in the right way. But there is no obvious point at which knowledge tips into action; in an increasingly mediatised political sphere, spreading awareness ends up as a substitute for action itself.

Trackers: The Sound of the 16-bit (2021) Ahoy is an entertaining mini-documentary detailing how music programming for games developed into DAWs. Plug-in Capitalism (2021) Michael Terren builds a compelling case against corporations that offer standardized tools for music production.

Any historian of technology will tell you that a technology that purports to increase productivity, under neoliberal capitalism and the atomized ‘creative industries,’ will only ever redistribute or delegate labour to other technical concerns.

20211119

They are planning to build a car tunnel under Helsinki. It is expected that this will boost the volume of cars passing the Sörnäinen district by 10%. They explain that this is not a catastrophe as most cars will be electric in the future. They explain the tunnel is needed to make the district more pleasant for habitants (as they won’t have to see or hear the cars) and they tell us that the businesses in the center will benefit from the influx.

Who are They?

They are people who own electric cars, own apartments in the district and own businesses in the center. They are planning to use our money to build a 180m€ tunnel. This is a retro-futuristic development process intended to make a city they have stagnated feel vibrant. Instead of lowering rents in the center and opening the city for grassroots initiatives, they are building monumental infrastructure for zombie lifestyles. Helsinki is becoming an appendix of Tehtaankatu.

The problem here is the top-down ethos of Helsinki planning.