Visited the Helsinki Performance Art Symposium at Mad House over the weekend. A nice line-up and big audience. If aliens would have abducted the guests, organizers and artists, Finland would have lost 30% of its performance core. I witnessed presentations from the usual suspects and artists such as Maija Kivi and Heikki Mäntymaa whose work I hadn’t seen before. Kivi presented a self-soiling striptease act – I danced a long but started feeling uncomfortable towards the end. It was emotional to see Joonas Jokiranta perform, I don’t think I’ve seem them in 15 years. Tomasz Szrama presented a long, rude and fun piece, were they deployed a large chunk of the audience as counterweights and other supports for their actions. Irma Optimistis lecture was great. Exactly of what is expected from her but this time it felt more intriguing. I think I’ve grown an appetite for slowly evolving, repetitive performances with subtle visual cues and references to art history.
Their work made me think very critically of past lecture performances I’ve seen (and performed). It felt like Optimisti had internalized the theoretical aspects of the knowledge they worked with and instead of illustrating Wikipedia entries or offering a laypersons science presentation: They build an argument on how knowledge of the world is made and worked with the revelation using their body. It was an experiment, not a presentation. The work made me think of John Ó Maoilearcas writing on François Laurell. I haven’t read much of them but I think I get the point of the optics and directionality or hierarchy of knowledge: Optimisti was not looking to scientific conventions of presenting the world as something they aspired towards, they were looking at the methods of science trough art. Their presentation was of the world.