Call: Research Day 8 November 2017

How are things done, produced or effected with performance?

The Finnish network for performance studies and the research project How to do things with performance? organise a joint research day 8 November 2017 10 am to 6 pm at University of the Arts Theatre Academy, Auditorium 1.

We invite everybody interested in performance studies, research on and in performance art and live art and in performance as research to debate the topic in English or in Finnish.

The main speaker of the day is performance theorist and performance maker Bojana Cvejic, whose most recent work Choreographing Problems (2015) discusses the relationship of philosophy and experimental choreographic practices by analysing some central works of contemporary dance. Her approach can be linked to performance philosophy as well, the aim of which is to bypass and overcome the abyss between making and thinking, art and philosophy. (Laruelle, Ó Maoilearca, Cull, O’Sullivan). Cvejic is one of the founding members of the group Walking Theory, which represents the new critical theory of the former Eastern European countries. She is professor in dance at Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

In the research project How to do things with performance? (2016-2020) funded by the Academy of Finland we have looked for answers with the help of some concepts like fabulation, fictionalising, framing, reimagining and repeating. Fabulation refers here to the social way we are creating shared meanings. Fictionalising, on the contrary, is a mode of thinking which does not strive to any kind of equivalence in relation to the real or reality. Repeating with variation can be linked on one hand to learning, the stabilizing of impact, and on the other hand to the production of difference.

These are of course not the only verbs central for performance and performing. We invite everybody interested in these issues to ponder how and in what way things are done with performance. Our aim is to compile a thematic issue on the topic to RUUKKU, journal of artistic research in Spring 2018.

Please send abstracts of proposals for presentations, in English or Finnish no later than 9 October to


Annette Arlander, Helena Erkkilä, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha, Pilvi Porkola, Taina Riikonen ja Helena Saarikoski

The full call is available as pdf Research Day 8 November 2017 – Call


Kick Off, abridged thought.

First Theremin Orchestra  at Carnegie Hall, New York, April 25, 1930.
First Theremin Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, New York, April 25, 1930.

Briefly said,  a presentation with a voice pressed on vinyl records and theremin. A text in progress. 

The performance is not a copy of the original. The thought of performance is a mutation itself. It is performing mutation of the real. The performance do not represent a body. The performance is not anti-art or anti-philosophy, but subtraction of attributes. A body in performance is not a representation, but matter in the process of subtraction. The performance is mutation of the real, it is a fiction. Fiction is a clone of the real, the only way how we approximate with the real. Performance is real, it is not real and it is not-not real. This is not a project, which produces more predicates of subject, like militant, activist, leftist, ad nauseam. Not more philosophy, but less. Not more dialogue, but polylogue and a shift from agon or oikonomia to a heretical choice without a reason. A heretical practice has no superior identity, system, or absolute, but it is without reason. It is an advent of practice. It is fiction, which is the fiction is a counter-creation of the World. The fiction is not an analysis of the world, but it is a organization in advent… The art is not creation for better world, or for better fiction, but art is the end of the world. A body remains foreclosed in the radical immanence and it is performed. Art already thinks, without the representatives of the archbishops of philosophy. It does not think for or through the philosophers.

How to perform landscape with repetition – At the outskirts of the City

A seminar titled Site-specific Performance and the City was organised by Leena Kela and Christopher Hewitt as part of New Performance Turku Festival on Wednesday 5th and I was honoured to be invited to speak. See programme. This was right after our kick-off seminar the previous day, so I based my talk “At the Outskirts of the City”  – Harakka Island where I have done most of my work is at the outskirts of Helsinki, although it is fairly centrally located on the map – on an old text. It is published as part of the introduction to Performing Landscape – Notes on Site-specific Work and Artistic Research. Texts 2001-2011. Acta Scenica 28. Theatre Academy Helsinki 2012 and the whole book is available online as a pdf file, here. The fragment in question (arlander_as_28-fragment) is discussing the relationship of place and performance in general terms. In the background I showed the two videos I never had the time to show at our kick-off seminar, namely the first part of Year of the Horse  (2003) and the first part of Year of the Horse – Calendar (2015).

My brief and informal talk at the kick-off seminar at Theatre Academy on Tuesday concerned repetition, and was partly based on an article “Repeat, Revisit, Recreate—Two Times Year of the Horse” in PARSE Journal Issue #3 Repetitions and Reneges. 2016, 43-59, also available online, here. There I describe those two video works or rather the process of recreating an old work by revisiting the same site after twelve years. In my presentation I chose to show my small powerpoint notes-on-repetition, rather than take up time by showing the videos, especially since we had just seen some great live shows…


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.

4th October Kick-off Seminar Program


How to do things with performance?

The four-year Academy of Finland funded research project “How to do things with performance?” will organise its kick off seminar at University of the Arts Helsinki Theatre Academy, in collaboration with the Performing Arts Research Centre Tutke and the Finnish Network for Performance Studies.

We invite to join us in exploring and listening to what can be done with performance.

For more information about the project, see

Time: October 4 2016, 10 am – 4 pm

Venue: Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki Haapaniemenkatu 6 Auditorium 1 / Tori


Preliminary Program

10:00  Leena Rouhiainen, opening words

Annette Arlander, presentation of the program

10:15  Heike Roms:  How to do history with performance

10:45 Hanna Järvinen: Jeux 1913 and 2016

11:00 Simon O’Sullivan: Performance Fictions

11:15 Coffee

11:30 Ed Scheer How to do things with performance (really)

11:45 Esa Kirkkopelto: Body and Object in Performance

12:00 Pilvi Porkola: What is ‘esitys’?


12:30 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 Tero Nauha: Abridged thought of performance

13:45 Katve-Kaisa Kontturi: Performance and Event: The Case of Feminist Colour-IN

14:00 Kira O’Reilly: I came to the sea and I was scared, my heart was broken

14:15 Karolina Kucia: Perform and Not

14:30 Tuomas Laitinen: I have an idea

14:45 Coffee

15:00 Henna-Riikka Halonen: In the Labyrinth between explanation and experience

15:15 Saara Hannula: “something doing”

15:30 Kimmo Modig: from transformative to transfigurative

15:45 Annette Arlander: How to perform landscape by repetition

16:00 Discussion


As an appendix,  please find a text, how-to-do-things-with-performance-art by Ed Scheer.

Performing Situated Knowledges

The 7th annual conference on New materialisms Performing Situated Knowledges: Space, Time, and Vulnerability 21-23 September in Warsaw (see website) was a good preparation for our coming work. Tero Nauha presented a performance: “A speculation on a body and posture in performance art practice”, which utilized prerecorded voice with a sophisticated philosophical argument and electronic sound together with their live manipulation, an experiment which he can describe better himself.

My contribution was  a small paper “Performing (with) Lichen as Situated Practice” (see performing-with-lichen, sorry for the large image files that are slow to load) in a panel in the strand New Materialism, Politics, and Organizational Experiments titled Ethics-relationality-vulnerability-violence-reconfigurations. The context was rather strange, but turned out to be interesting, in many ways. Besides papers by Karolina Kucia and Magdalena Gorska the panel included philosopher Marzena Adamiak’s discussion on Karen Barad’s thinking in relation to the problem of exclusion. My contribution was originally programmed for a panel called Situated Practices / Situated Movements on Wednesday, in the strand New Materialism Embracing the Creative Arts, where it would have fitted in better, but I could not join on Wednesday due to teaching duties, and was happy that the organizers found a place for me to join in later. The video work I spoke about, created during Easter 2016 between Sandkås and Allinge on the northwestern coast of the island of Bornholm, is publicly available for view on the Research Catalogue, Lichen and Allinge 1-2.

The theme of the conference, situated knowledges, and the classic text by Donna Haraway from 1988, which the call alluded to, seemed like a fresh and provocative choice. Reading Haraway’s witty text “Situated Knowledges: the Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”, originally written as a comment and reply to Sandra Harding, was inspiring. Take a look at it yourself, here.