R.I.P SERVICES review translation from 05 August!

R.I.P. SERVICES was reviewed very positively in the Finnish weekly KANSAN UUTISET on 05 August 2016 — here is the translation:


Installation at the URB festival urges spectators to ponder on death

You decide on your life. Why not decide on your death, too?

The R.I.P. Services performance/installation by the onemorequestion collective asks us this provocative question. It part of the programme of the ongoing URB festival in Helsinki. The URB festival of urban art delves into the urban landscape and the society through contemporary perspectives. It promises to provide the visitors experiences that may arouse both emancipatory and distressing emotions. The visitors can view performances but also take part in workshops and devising processes of certain projects.

RIP Services -performance/installation promises to help us prepare for dying and death individually, respecting one’s individual wishes. Is it possible to productivize death, and if so, to what extent? Medicine makes it possible for us to live longer than before. We are required to take more and more responsibility for our retirement care and the end-of-life decisions.

The responsibility about getting older and is becoming more and more one’s own responsibility.

The Austrian-Finnish art collective, led by Joonas Lahtinen, invites each spectator to reflect on his death in this performance that lasts a bit over an hour.

The approach here is analytical, even clinical; the group has done their background research about dying well. The performance deals with death as if it were a product like any other. It also discusses experiences of people who have been very close to death. The physical aspects of dying are described as processes.

In the performance, the mental states of encountering death get crystallized into five different emotions that range from anger to the feeling of injustice. The approaching death, or a severe illness, makes us halt for a moment and urges us to assess our life in a new way.

Already the entrance situation is surprising. The spectators are asked to leave their personal belongings and shoes in brown boxes reserved for them. Each box gets nametagged with the spectator’s name.

Having symbolically “stripped” off my identity, I am guided into a “big hall”, into an empty room. The performance is site-specific; it takes place in an anonyme urban house in the middle of the city.

The rotating windmills in the video installation get laden with new significance in connection with the audio record about death that we hear. Everyone will die. The fact that we all die makes us equal, yet the society does not treat us equally in life or in the end of our life.

The performance also addresses the issue of money. Money is a limited resource; the decay and illnesses that result from our getting older cost the society. How long does the society cover our medical expenses? Many of us die in an “outsourced” institution, not at home, surrounded by our close ones.

The spectator is asked how he wants to die. Well, that is certainly something to think about when you are lying on a thin mattress.

Some spectators are called by their name to come to a customer interview about fear of death. The questions are based on a German psychological test about the fear of dying and about more mundane issues, such as: how much you are afraid of having to rely on others; of having to be fed; of bodily decay; and of what might happen to you after you die.

Everyone gets his results to take home. The interviewer – who is part of the theatre collective – says that none of the results will get archived or exploited in any way.

The performance is – on purpose – emotionless and expressionless but, at the same time, also very mundane. The spectator is halted and urged to reflect on his death by “distancing” it into facts, numbers, and processes. Yet this is not documentary theatre but kind of a performance that the artist collective and the spectators produce together during the hour-long event.

The performance can also be viewed with dark humour; to see its comic traits. The installation/performance R.I.P. SERVICES by the onemorequestion collective is an interesting experience.

It is possible to address even such a topic as death in a seemingly airy and distanced manner and yet, simultaneously, discuss fears and taboos that are related to it. The performance leaves room for the spectator to experience emotions by himself, for himself.



About Joonas Lahtinen

Joonas Lahtinen (* 1984, FIN/A) is a performance artist, director and researcher who lives and works in Vienna and Helsinki. His performances are often site-specific and have a strong installational character. In his works, he explores the politics of space and of the everyday from perspectives that are both humorous and disturbing. Joonas has studied Performance at Queen Mary, University of London and he is writing a PhD thesis about the problematic of “emancipatory” participative art at the University of Helsinki. Since 1995, he has performed in various Live Art, theatre and TV productions both in Finland and abroad.
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