Coming up in early 2017

My 2017 will begin with teaching and the premiere of our sound installation in Helsinki —

12 Jan:  Guest Lecture session “Parts that matter – contemporary critical discourses and the politics of participatory art practice” at the course Relational, Immersive and Participatory Activities, University of the Arts Helsinki / Theatre Academy

13-14 Jan:  Sound installation What’s your take on Mad House? at the Opening weekend of Mad House Helsinki Season 4. You can listen to the installation during the opening hours of Mad House during the whole spring, until 9 April 2017!

Also, I’m very happy and proud to announce that I have been invited to the steering group of the new international Master programme “Comparative Dramaturgy and Performance Research” at the University of the Arts Helsinki / Theatre Academy.
The innovative programme starts in Fall 2017 and it will be organized in cooperation with Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Université Libre Bruxelles/Brussels, Aberystwyth University Wales, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, and Kunsthøgeskolen Oslo.

Yet another exiting piece of news:

I have been invited to teach an course on transdiciplinary art-making practices at the Studio for Art and Education (Kunst und Bildung/Institut für das künstlerisches Lehramt) of the renowned Academy of Fine Arts Vienna!! The course takes place between  early March and June 2017.

More info about these and other activities to follow soon…

*** We wish all our audiences and partners all best for the remainder of 2016 – and hope to see you in 2017!! ***

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Coming up: audio installation at MAD HOUSE HELSINKI 13 Jan – 9 Apr 2017 !!

Now it’s official! —

We will make a sound installation “What’s your take on Mad House?” for the MAD HOUSE HELSINKI SEASON 4 and it will run between January and April 2017 in the toilets of the festival centre at Suvilahti, Helsinki!

The previous version of the project, “Wie stehen Sie zum brut?” was part of the So weit so brut festival in brut Wien (Vienna) in 2015.

Hope to see you (or hear you) in Helsinki in early 2017!

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Yet another brilliant essay about R.I.P. SERVICES at URB16 !!

Mustekala culture webzine has published a brilliant philosophical essay “Hyvän mielen markkinat” – that employs e.g. Michel Foucault’s concept “biopower” – about R.I.P. SERVICES and Wunderkinder, another celebrated recent performance that discussed our possibilities for life control in the contemporary society. Please find translated excerpts below:

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Fair of “good feelings”

by Matti Tuomela,
editor-in-chief, mustekala culture webzine

(…) R.I.P. Services is a multisensory performance that took part in Alppitalo, in my case in a beautiful late summer evening (…) We could move freely on the site. There was a number of precise rectancle-shaped “boxes” marked on the floor that I associated with graves. In the middle of the room, a projection screen showed us footage of a wind turbine. This “cemetery setting” with all its associations made me think of the cycle of energy production. Little by little towards then end of R.I.P. Services, I realized what the “catch” of the performance was: it was sort of a fictitious advertisement event that aimed to sell us (as the name of the performance tells us) a service that will make our death as pleasant an experience as possible.

How does R.I.P. Services take part in the debate on wellbeing? Surely, it includes dark humour when making business about dying. In a theoretical sense, the performance can be seen to “fill” the “loophole” in Michel Foucault’s (1926-1984) concept of “biopower”. In general terms, biopower refers to a technology of power to discipline and subjugate one’s body into a productive entity. Also, at the macro-level, biopower is linked to the control of populations, institutions, and hierarchies. An easy example of biopower is the justice system: our society does not execute criminals anymore but, instead, tries to “cure” them, make them into decent citizens – in a sense, into servants of power. Death, as Foucault puts it, is the limit of power. A dead body is not a productive body. In this sense, death is a crime against power. Capitalism requires biopower that organizes life into productive activity (…) R.I.P. Services, perhaps also as a general critical comment on the consumerist society, toys with the idea that we may be able to productivize this ultimate limit that escapes power – the limit between life and death.

R.I.P. Services offers interesting parallels and challenging views regarding the side effects of our fixation on ”wellbeing” [Carl Cedeström & André Spicer: “The Wellness Syndrome” (2015)]. Already the thought of a “good” or a “better” death is a sarcastic notion about our contemporary culture. The performance propagates the view that we are afraid of the process of dying and death because it includes many issues that we cannot control, such as pissing one’s pants at the moment of death. At the same time, the performance asks: what if you had the chance to decide? The fictitious service marketed by the performance reminds me of the services of life-coaches: the “product” being sold is located within the spectator; you just have to take control over it, “grasp it, decide yourself”. The starting point of the service that offers a “good death” is the customer’s fear of death. However, this service does not aim to erase that fear but to offer various ways to keep it under one’s control. Once again, the “space” of the human mind is infinite: can we ever really accept death? If we can’t, it is possible to cash in with it until the very end. The principle of life-coaching follows the same logic, only in the contrary meaning: towards a fee, the individual is “trained” to reach e.g. the potential or happiness or whatever that resides in him. But where are the apexes of these so-called “potentials”?

In R.I.P. Services, the customer’s need to buy the service is evident: all of us will die eventually. This need also relates to the control and disciplinary society. Activity wristbands, heart rate monitors and the millions of apps that help us measure our sport performances are side products of wellbeing; they are ways for disciplining our bodies. Indeed, introspection and the myriad ways to measure our performance in various areas are good examples, first, of the biopower directed at subjects and, second, of how we produce data about ourselves. The data acquisitions made by websites and apps are part of the process that aims to capitalize on the knowledge production that we, as individuals, have done about ourselves. (…) I think that the test about the fear of death is essentially connected to the current trend of introspection, self-disciplining, and self-control. (…) The male performer told us that we can tailor the service to suit our individual needs: the company gathers data about the customer so that they can give him/her (playfully) the perfect dying situation.

(Photo: Luzie Stransky)

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New article in Teatteri&tanssi 5/2016 !!

Besides the superb review of R.I.P. SERVICES at URB 16 Festival, the new number of  the major Finnish theatre magazine Teatteri&tanssi includes an article that I wrote about performance art institutions, funding structures, and my life as a performance artist in Vienna and Helsinki — translation to follow soon!
The photo is from our YOYO – You are On Your Own performances in the crypt of the Baroque church St. Ursula /brut Wien in February 2015.

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In the photo: Mikko Niemistö, photo: Luzie Stransky

 

 

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Superb review of R.I.P. SERVICES in Teatteri&tanssi magazine 05/2016 !!


The brand new number 5/2016 of the most influential Finnish theatre magazine Teatteri&tanssi includes a superb review of R.I.P. SERVICES at URB 16 Festival / Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki! Full translation to follow soon, here are some quotes:

… R.I.P. SERVICES offered us one surprise after another; it was a very detailed crash course on dying preparation … did I become distressed? Not at all, because the pleasant soundscape, the precise script, intriguing video projections, and the common breathing exercises guided us gently to reflect on these issues … The performance succeeded to “scratch” a crack in the untouched “mental foil” of the human mind that keeps the fear of death away … The hour-long performance also included humour. It offered “personal trainers” for “death management” … This service that chaffed at life-coaching businesses, was, I would say, a frighteningly brilliant idea.

-Raisa Rauhamaa, Teatteri&tanssi 5/2016, Helsinki (translated by JL)

 

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R.I.P. SERVICES radio feature on YLE Radio 1 /”Kultakuume” show!!

The main Finnish radio station YLE Radio 1 made a long interview-based feature about R.I.P. SERVICES (URB16 Festival / Kiasma Theatre / Finnish National Gallery) and Ibsen: Ghosts (Markus&Markus at Stage Helsinki Theatre Festival 2016) !!
We were positioned as groups that address death and dying through theatrical means in novel ways.

You can listen to the culture radio show Kultakuume some three weeks here (sorry, in Finnish only):
http://areena.yle.fi/1-3541901

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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:

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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.

SIRPA PUHAKKA

KANSAN UUTISET VERKKOLEHTI
KULTTUURIUUTISET 05.08.2016

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