Performanssifilosofiaa -kirja on täällä!

Tässä se nyt on, ihan konkreettisesti hypisteltävänä:


Performanssifilosofiaa: esitysten, esiintymisten ja performanssien filosofiasta performanssiajatteluun putkahti viimein ulos painosta uuden vuoden kunniaksi. Tero Nauhan ideasta syntynyt projektin toinen kirja on ensimmäinen suomenkielinen teos uudelta performanssifilosofian alalta. Kokoelmassa on mukana niin HTDTWP-projektilaisten kääntämiä performanssifilosofian kannalta kiinnostavia tekstejä kuin myös uusia artikkeleita performanssifilosofiasta ja sen rajapinnoilta. Teoksen e-versio on luettavissa vaikka heti ja fyysistä kappaletta voi ostaa Teatterikorkeakoulun kirjastosta sekä toivon mukaan pian myös Unigrafian verkkokaupasta.

Performanssifilosofia on tutkimusalue ja taiteellinen toimintakenttä, joka kritisoi taiteen alisteista suhdetta filosofiaan nähden. Tuomalla yhteen taiteilijoita, tutkijoita ja filosofeja performanssifilosofia kysyy, kuinka esitys ajattelee, kuinka esitys, esiintyminen tai performanssi ovat ajattelua ja toimintaa, eivätkä ainoastaan filosofisten kysymysten kuvittamista. Siksi myös Performanssifilosofiaa -teos avaa ajattelun, vallankäyttön sekä inhimillisen ja ei-inhimillisen välisiä kehiä, joita uusmaterialismi, dekolonialismi, posthumanismi ja muut uudet paradigmat ovat nostaneet keskeisiksi esittävissä taiteissa ja tutkimuksessa. Siksi teoksessa on mukana niin suoraan performanssifilosofian luonnetta pohtivia tekstejä kuin myös artikkeleita, joissa esitetty ajattelu rinnastuu performanssifilosofian kysymyksiin kielen ja esittämisen suhteista sekä ajattelijan positiosta. Teos ei pyri määrittelemään performanssifilosofian kenttää vaan tarjoaa ehdotuksia performanssiajattelulle ja ajattelun tavoille, jotka voidaan nähdä esittämisinä ja performansseina.

Kirjan varsinainen julkistus tapahtuu projektin päätöstapahtumassa Taideyliopiston Teatterikorkeakoululla (Haapaniemenkatu 6) 15.4. klo 18, jolloin avataan myös 15.-18.4.2020 avoinna oleva näyttelykokonaisuus Studio 4:ssa. Tervetuloa! Kalenteriin kannattaa merkitä myös 17.4. loppuseminaari, jossa kootaan yhteen tapahtunutta, pohditaan esitystä esityksellisin järjestelyin, ja katsotaan kohti tulevaa.

HTDTWP @PARSE: Human, Gothenburg 13-15 November 2019

The third PARSE conference was held at the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts at the University of Gothenburg, and the conference called for thinking the category ‘human’ from different perspectives, with emphasis on what this category excludes and overlooks. Thus, many of the art and research projects shown contested the universality of ’the human’, addressing, for example, climate change, technology, mobility, biopolitics and necropolitics, and decoloniality. The keynotes by Barbara Albert, Joanna Bourke, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Joan Anim-Addo, and Maaike Bleeker focused on different art forms but in interweaving ways that connected the themes of the conference into a rich tapestry of art and scholarship. Most of the presentations evoked good questions and important further discussion points.

As a consequence, the conference was refreshingly less like artistic research conferences I have previously attended, with more representatives from minorities, more women and gender-queer people, and far fewer senior white men representing themselves as defining the field and its discursive practices. The delicious food – always an important part of the sustainability of academic discourses – was provided by a company rescuing waste from local shops and restaurants and the simple printout programme and the easy-to-use electronic versions worked great. One of the keynotes was given via skype, which worked practically without a hitch. As such, PARSE really felt like a twenty-first-century conference.

Our research project proposed four perspectives under ‘The Human in Performance’. Due to numerous distractions, the panel ended up becoming quite the traditional cavalcade of four academic presentations. Annette began by introducing the project, followed by Hanna’s paper, ”Intersectional Histories, or Decolonize Your Canon, a manifesto arguing for the urgent need to rethink whose histories are taught in art schools, whose art is represented as relevant and on what grounds, and how these processes of exclusion favour white patriarchy of canon formation.

Pilvi continued with “Study on objects III, with a camera”, a performance lecture with a video. With the example of the recording, she discussed what takes place in the re-seeing and the relationality with objects we often take for granted, such as the objects we work with, like cameras:

with a camera screenshot

(Pilvi Porkola: Screenshot from video Study on objects III, with a camera)

Tero’s paper “The limits for the expropriation of performance as a force of thought” focused on conceptual art from a (non-)philosophical point of view, and the relationship of theoretical understanding and art practice. His examples were quite punctual:


(Tero Nauha: Paraphrasing Reality (1972) by Jarosław Kozłowski)

Finally, Annette revisited her work Year of the Dragon in “Calling the Dragon Again. She introduced a video by addressing posthuman performativity (Barad 2003), which suggests that the category of human cannot be taken as given, and compared that to the zoe-centred egalitarianism of Braidotti (2017). The serendipity that has characterised this research project continued in that, apart from the problems with the sound system and a bad microphone, the presentations worked great in the order originally decided upon based on technical requirements.

Our panel was moderated by Kristina Hagström-Ståhl, and was well attended, and in the following discussion, audience members offered fascinating readings filling the ‘gaps’ between our four distinct modes of thinking. Project members ended up arguing and disagreeing in very productive ways on these interpretations, to the extent that we later agreed it may well be necessary to rethink how our next joint book project will deal with these fruitful disagreements within the project.


(Photo by Pilvi Porkola)

What is clear is that over the years, we have learned a lot from each other, but we also still hold to our personal interests and theoretical views. Whether the apparent ways in which our interests overlap is real or only seems similar because of accidental similarity in concepts used, needs further elaboration.


For the SAR conference in Zürich this year, we proposed expanding the Long Table format with objects and actions. Given our past experiences in this conference, we also convened to create a structure that would both introduce our project and propose ways into the format through actions.

Annette began by introducing the project, followed by Hanna proposing the rules of the interaction, specifically that we wished for a constructive, critical arrangement, with action as well as discussion, but that was respectful of each other in the spirit of the Long Table ‘dinner party’ format. Next, Pilvi brought several different kinds of objects, with different kinds of materialities, to the table with her statement:


The format, as Split Britches describes it, already allows for written or drawn commentary. We had printed our questions to turn them into objects, too, and these got spread around the table:


After Annette read her proposal and set up her video projection at one end of the table, Tero described his action in which he read a text placed in a shredder that would be turned on either after one minute or after Hanna had thrown three sixes on a D6. In our tests, the one minute had always passed before Hanna managed to throw a six three times, but the performance of course proved to be different. The shredded paper became an object-pile on the table, malleable, incoherent, fragmented text.

This mess later provoked one of our guest artists to ask who will clean the space, alluding to how low-income and precarious work is often performed by immigrant labour and is gendered – here, as Tero pointed out, the artist cleans the mess they make. A conversation that could have been about politics of precarity in the art world did not emerge, perhaps because as members of SAR attending an international conference we were all too privileged to notice this.

The second time a conversation emerged was after Hanna told a story around the Russian doll Pilvi then exposed as someone else’s property she had not yet returned. This conversation connected to earlier discussions on voice and giving voice in performance, but once again, the long table format somehow kept the discussion to such a level of politeness the contents remained rather shallow nods towards identity politics. Perhaps no conversation of this kind amongst a random selection of participants can arise without specificity of focus that would, in advance, limit the scope or topic to a degree of clarity necessary for any in-depth argument. In this instance, the allusions to earlier conversations certainly did not help us achieve coherence.

In the third moment of conversation, which already turned towards the metatextual level of the arrangement, Annette pointed to how citations had functioned in a previous instance of a long table she had attended. This, like the above questions about privilege and focus, turned the discussion also to how, by bringing in objects and other materialities than conversation (spoken or written), we had made the performance more of a performance. There was, in effect, relatively little said during the one hour of discussion, whereas objects moved a lot, provoking drawing, tracing, illustration, and movement. Some of the participants even turned the chairs around the long table into moveable objects, marked with post-it stickers, shifted and piled in what momentarily became almost a competitive re-arrangement of the space within the circle of chairs for the audience.

Nobody sang, but a musician working with improvisation made a sound-art piece from the black balloon and microphone. At one point, the moderator immoderately threw the kiwi birds that sang in our Plymouth SAR performance at the window in what was probably the most violent act and the sole instance of someone actively disobeying the rules read at the beginning.


In the Q/A led by the moderator, perhaps the most interesting discussion was what made the performance a performance. The focus was on the issues of sharing practices across interdisciplinary and methodological gaps that the call for papers for this conference also raised. Afterwards, as we were cleaning the space, one of our invited artists apologised for not having joined in, because they found the objects alien to their practice. They suggested we should have filmed the performance, because that was what they saw it as being, and analysed what we might not have seen by participating. However, as this performance was also a rehearsal for something already planned for the summer, perhaps it pointed to what needs be fixed and the gaps that have to be minded in participatory acts, especially if we do wish to bring uncomfortable differences to the table.

An Archive in a Library


This is me on my 45th birthday in one of the best places in the world: the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York, New York. The Academy of Finland funding has allowed me to have my first full-time research leave in a decade, and to spend the time efficiently, I gave myself a birthday present: a two-week “residency” in this collection. The above photograph is of the second floor circulating collections, where books are on open shelves, but much of my time was actually spent with archival collections in the third floor.

The archive requires certain specialist tools of the trade to deal with paper in various stages of disintegration – special supports for books whose spines are like those of a very old person arthritic under the weight of years, led string wrapped in cloth to hold one’s place without cracking the page, and a microspatula for turning a new leaf because a fingertip will only turn the edge to dust.


A historian is taught early on that very old materials or things that are in poor condition have to be treated with care so as to preserve them for others who might need them later. You are never the last person to want to read this or see this or touch this. Someone else – probably someone smarter – will come along and discover it anew. This is a lesson in ethics: I am not who matters, the matter itself has the right to be treated with respect.

Yet, as with ethics, we always will fail and are thus encouraged to try anew and improve on ourselves in treating these material remains of a past chosen for preservation. Disintegration is simply inevitable, entropy seeks to overpower the universe. The materiality of this paper is one of brittleness, the foxing of old pages a sign of passing years like wrinkles on skin. Archivists conserve materials: they use cotton tape and special quality glue, twine and tweezers and brushes and yes, microspatulas, to fix damage, prolonging the life their chronically ailing patients. Some of the materials I sought for were not available because they were scheduled for conservation, others I encountered because they were on exhibit:

Contrasting video of rehearsal and performance, showing costumes with photographs of stagings, posters and film stills, and displaying a wealth of manuscript materials like diaries and letters, the current gallery exhibit celebrates the life of Jerome Robbins, after whom the Dance Collection of the library is named. As with previous exhibitions, most of the objects shown are from this library’s collections, and many have never been shared with the general public. Although the exhibit cannot be as critical as a research might wish it to be, the selection of different kinds of things somehow emphasises the sheer range of what remains of a long career, if some of the sacrifices made on the altar of that career are only hinted at. At the same time, it draws attention to how finding out what is actually in the collections might require a degree of detective work simply because what is on the shelves and on display is merely a fragment of what is there in the vaults, and for those in the know to request and figure out.

No matter how much care one takes, after some time in the archives, one has breathed in dust that was once part of the archived object, but one has also touched where another has cared enough to turn this particular page – if a little too rapidly for the fibres that used to form a whole but due to their age simply came apart in that one flip of a careless finger. Digital versions of archival materials do not have this immediate materiality, not even to the degree of the object meticulously positioned in a display case. Reading a digital book lacks the smell of dead organisms used in conveying its message, just as a costume on a dummy lacks the movement of the dancer. The more yellowed and fragile the leaves, the more worn the fabric, the more they recall the turning of the season outside from summer to autumn – fall, in the old version of English still used in America. Archives are corporeal work: a few more hours of sitting in a chair in the cool, air-conditioned room, and my body aches like the book in front of me does not.

Outside, in the rain, leaves are falling.

HTDTWP Travels the World!

Our project is presenting at Society of Artistic Research conference Please Specify! in Helsinki on 29 April 2017.

We will be performing in Venice during the Biennale at the University of the Arts Research Pavilion’s Camino events 17-18 May 2017.

In June, we will present our work at Performance Studies international #23 at Hamburg in the Artistic Research Working Group.

In July, we’ll be in São Paulo for the International Federation for Theatre Research conference Unstable Geographies: Multiple Theatricalities.

Jeux: ensi-ilta, arvostelu ja seuraavat esitykset

Kick-off seminaarissa esittelemäni teos, Jeux: uudelleen kuviteltu / re-imagined sai ensi-iltansa Turussa 19.10.2016.

Tiedotustilaisuuden pohjalta tehty puffijuttu:

Pidempi ennakkojuttu ja (kirjautumisen vaativa) video:

Arvio teoksesta Turun Sanomissa

Esitykset Kutomolla Turussa 29.10. asti:

Tämän jälkeen esitykset Ateneum-salissa Helsingissä 4.-6.11.2016:




IMAGEs in this text refer to this powerpoint presentation (without video)

IMAGE 1 Jeux 1913 and 2016

I am Hanna Järvinen, Senior Researcher in this Academy of Finland research project. By training, I am a historian, and writing is my principal form of practice. My job in the How to Do Things with Performance? project is to ask questions about the history of performance and of performing history. This project, I hope, will allow for exploration of collective, collaborative practices and performative writing.

IMAGE 2 According to Della Pollock, performative writing has six qualities. It is evocative, rendering the absent present. It is metonymic, meaning that it is self-consciously incomplete. It is subjective, not autobiographical but rather it subjects the reader to the writer’s reflexivity. It is nervous in its crossings of theories, contexts, and practices. It is citational – in other words repetitive and reiterative. It is consequential, that is, it does something, produces something, as with Austin’s performative utterances.

Let’s keep these qualities in mind and discuss practice. IMAGE 3 I am currently working as a historical context advisor in a dance piece, Jeux, Uudelleen kuviteltu / Re-Imagined, which will premiere in Turku in a fortnight, on October 19th. There will also be performances in Helsinki from November 4th to November 6th at the National Gallery Ateneum.

This project started in the spring of 2014, when the choreographer Liisa Pentti and I had a discussion about the term “reconstruction” which Liisa had used for her collaboration with the choreographer Liisa Risu in their piece Liisas danst Rosas IMAGE 3. This is a work on their shared but different relationship to Anna Theresa de Keersmaeker’s choreographies, especially Rosas danst Rosas of 1983. In Liisas danst Rosas, which I saw on 28 May 2014, the two Liisas dance excerpts of the Rosas style works that were significant or meaningful for them in the 1980s and now. Through factual and fictional stories, video recordings, and dance they ponder on what remains in their bodies of those dances three decades later, their current relationship to those works and that time, the 1980s, more generally, and they do so with a great deal of humour.

For me as a historian, this work was not re-constructing anything. Rather, it was about the corporeal history of dance: how dance practitioners interpret, develop, and recall the techniques, choreographies, performances, and aesthetics they encounter both professionally (here, in the work of the ROSAS company) and as amateurs – as lovers of – dance (here, the choreographies of Bob Fosse). Obviously, this work was about aging IMAGE 4: these particular kinds of virtuosic choreographies are hard on the bodies performing them, physical exhaustion being almost a requirement of the fourth movement of Rosas danst Rosas, where also the dress of the dancers emphasises their youth: school skirts, as Liisa and Liisa point out, not really being the kind of thing women in their fifties perform in IMAGE 5 – hence, the flowery summer dresses of the last movement in Liisas danst Rosas.

So Liisa Pentti and I talked about bodies as archives and as transmitters of memories, interpretations, and signification, of histories that are not linear but circular as the dancing bodies return and reinterpret past dances. Every dance irrevocably changes the body dancing. It is, after all, impossible not to have danced something: the body is, in a sense, an archive or a repository. As a consequence of our talks, Liisa invited me to collaborate on a new piece that would be about the origins of contemporary dance, IMAGE 6 by which she meant Nijinsky’s 1913 choreography for Jeux to the music of Claude Debussy. After I sputtered a bit about my objections to the claim that Nijinsky’s choreographies influenced modern dance, Liisa interrupted me and said she was not speaking of modern dance but of contemporary dance. Jeux, she claimed, was the first instance of contemporary dance, which is a term usually associated with European post-Second-World-War dance, including the effects of American postmodern dance in Europe since the 1970s.

I asked her to explicate and she pointed to an image by Valentine Gross and asked me how many times had I seen that in ballet. IMAGE 7. Well. Um. Okay, she had a point. The virtuosity of small gestures and everyday movements in Jeux, the dancers standing and sitting and lying on the floor – all this resonates with American postmodern dance, the so-called New Dance in Britain and France – or in Finland – and even with certain European dance theatre forms such as Pina Bausch. On the other hand, Nijinsky’s manner of choreographing to the musical score – even if, for Jeux, this meant asking the composer to change certain parts of the music to fit the intended action – is far closer to many forms of modern dance and the kind of choreography where the choreographer sets steps on the dancers than it is to postmodern dance techniques. IMAGE 8 Also, as the critic of The Times found, the choreography mixed movements familiar from ballet with a new kind of movement vocabulary that did not, in his opinion, quite match up.

Besides being known as a ‘failure’, Jeux is also a work no-one alive has any direct experience of: despite some plans for revival, it was only performed in Paris and London during the summer of 1913 and all the three dancers who ever danced it have passed away – Nijinsky died in 1950, Ludmila Schollar and Tamara Karsavina both in 1978. In addition to the six photographs posed for publicity purposes, a few drawings made by artists who saw the performances, notably Valentine Gross and Dorothy Mullock, and reviews, IMAGE 9 the materials remaining of the 1913 Jeux include musical notation of Claude Debussy’s score, hand-written notes by the choreographer on a four-hand piano rendering of the score into which Debussy has also scribbled his changes as per the choreographer’s request, and some designs by Léon Bakst, whose set was used but costumes seemed to mix up tennis with football. IMAGE 10

There are also reminiscences, cartoons and even a satirical poem. IMAGE 11 For Jeux: Re-Imagined, I shared these materials first with the choreographer and the dancers, Anna Torkkel, Maija Reeta Raumanni and Jouni Järvenpää, later with the set and costume designer Graziella Tomasi, the sound designer Jouni Tauriainen, and the lighting designer Vespa Laine.

Liisa and I devised various exercises that aimed at not just re-embodying the visual images but the words used of the choreography, its setting and affective content. From these exercises and others, movement material began to emerge. The work as it currently is comprises seven episodes and lasts about an hour, over three times as long as Nijinsky’s 1913 choreography.

IMAGE 12 The video I will now share with you shows a short section from the first full run-through last Friday, 30 September. This is part of the episode utilising the dancers’ exploration of the drawings by Gross and Mullock, seen here. So, these are the drawings we have used, and as the choreographic sequences repeat, I will point to some of the poses.

IMAGE 13 VIDEO during which I hold up pictures of the 1913 production as the poses occur in the 2016 choreography.

Each of the dancers also has an episode in which they speak, semi-improvised, on a theme related to the choreographic process (by Jouni), devising movement from still images (by Maija) and time (by Anna).

IMAGE 14 What, then, of this presentation as performative writing? A historian always tries to be evocative, render something long gone present and accessible. Such renderings, however, are rarely this metonymic: for my part in How to Do Things with Performance? any attempt at discussing a collaborative effort will always be tied to my subjective perspective and my experience, and therefore necessitates I accept it as always-already incomplete and imperfect. I have little use for the passive voice that pretends to omniscience.

As an exploration in practice of what emerges in the studio from historical materials, this 2016 Jeux is also atypical because it does not attempt to construct a whole out of fragments or pretend to a reconstruction. Working with dance makers like this, in the studio, crosses the contexts of history, writing, theory, devising movement, improvisational practices, and performance – practices that do not often come together in quite this fashion. I have no idea where this will take me.

In terms of citationality, the two Jeux, the two games, repeat themselves also in my writing. What will become a challenge, I presume, is to write the minute, concrete materiality into a text that would itself perform: a text in seven episodes would reflect the structure of Liisa’s choreography. But using the affective responses of the critics of the 1913 Jeux, however, the text should be about nothing, nothing happening, a very boring text that just goes on and on, ending nowhere, meaningless, with Debussy’s beautiful score just playing quietly in the background.

To end with an ironic remark, the sixth clause from Pollock’s list is actually the easiest: anything I produce is reported, measured, calculated in terms of impact in today’s academia. Whether that is actually consequential, however, whether that matters, always remains to be seen. For me as a historian, the studio practice offers insights not simply on dance and its particular relationship with the past and memory but on the aims of historiography and the role of the researcher working in and with art. I hope that my writing will not become reporting or explaining practice but an expressive register parallel to studio work and performance.

IMAGE 15 Thank you.



Usually, a research project ends with a seminar, where the research results are outlined for interested parties outside of the research team. But since we do not yet know how to do things with performance, the How to Do Things with Performance? project decided to start by hosting an event in which we asked our colleagues to give us their responses to the title: how would they do things with performance?

We received a wonderful array of suggestions from artists and researchers, who shared, through different kinds of performances and discussion, both modes of performing and of thinking about and through performance that we hope will help us answer our question: how to do things with performance. We are particularly grateful for these people for giving their time and labour at such short notice and without proper compensation – thank you for your gift, we hope this project can offer something reciprocal by 2020! We also had a great number of people in the audience both during the morning session at the Auditorium 1 and the afternoon session at Tori – thank you for attending, listening, commenting, and appreciating this moment.

The event was opened by Professor Leena Rouhiainen, the Vice Dean for Research at the Theatre Academy, who explained the significance of the project for the Performing Arts Research Centre, The Theatre Academy, and the University of the Arts Helsinki. Professor Heike Roms, member of our Advisory Board, introduced her research on the history of performance art in Wales, followed by Senior Researcher Hanna Järvinen speaking of the dance performance project, Jeux, based on her earlier historical research. Two members of our Advisory Board also sent their greetings because they could not come in person: Professor Simon O’Sullivan sent a video discussing his current research on re-tooling of philosophy, and Professor Edward Scheer a presentation on how to do things with performance, translated by Postdoctoral Researcher Pilvi Porkola. Professor Esa Kirkkopelto then spoke of bodies and objects, showing two examples of objects performing. Postdoctoral Researcher Pilvi Porkola finished the first half of the Kick-off seminar by discussing translation, translatability, and meaning of ‘esitys’, the Finnish word for performance.

The afternoon session convened after lunch with Postdoctoral Researcher Tero Nauha, who exemplified thinking in performance through playing records and a theremin. The fourth member of our Advisory Board, Dr. Katve-Kaisa Kontturi then discussed an event she had co-convened, Feminist Colour-IN. Lecturer Kira O’Reilly performed her piece I came to the sea and I was scared, my heart was broken and Karolina Kucia did a lecture with a cockroach. Tuomas Laitinen played with sound and the claim he had an idea, and Henna-Riikka Halonen shared her work on labyrinths and avatars. Saara Hannula asked whether what we were up to was actually “something doing”, and Kimmo Modig asked if performance is changing something from transformative to transfigurative mode. The event was finished by the Principal Investigator of the research project, Annette Arlander, who presented a powerpoint on her video work and discussed repetition as an inherent quality of performance.