Riikka Theresa Innanen on dances

Riikka Theresa Innanen: After I had decided to stop dancing at the age of 6, (I was to dance a duet with a boy, and I got too embarrassed and offended to go on), I totally got swept away with Break dancing at the age of 12, and had to start again. For a girl in 1980’s in a small town in Finland it wasn’t too easy to develop my passion, but I was equally inspired by the Fame that was on TV. I though I could support my street dancing with jazz dance classes. This developed further to ballet and modern dance until I stopped again. After a year of dancing flamenco as a hobby and trying to find a “real profession”, I realized that the only thing I really love and know to do is dancing. I studied dance and choreography 4 years in Amsterdam at SNDO (1993-1997). SNDO together with working a year in a residency at Daghdha Dance Company in Ireland has possibly left the biggest imprint on me as an artist. In both these places I was lucky enough to study there when it still was very mixed with varying trainings and aesthetics. The students came from the world continents and from different walks of life. Then I could also learn how to use my passion in visual arts, music and computers as an asset for my dance work and artistic thinking. I taught at the Theatre school for 4 years before moving back to Finland in 2001. In Finland, working with Side Step Festivalhas been important as well as connecting with various “off ” groups such as Reality Research Center, and z-score. After 8 year in Finland, I felt more supported abroad and left for Daghdha Dance Company. The structure (now sadly finished) of daily commitment, small salary and a workspace (even if open and shared) together with the support of the fellow resident artists and staff, made a big change in how I see my work placed, and how I want to continue developing my work.

YOUR STORY IS VERY INTERESTING, YOU HAD AN INTERNATIONAL CAREER, AND THEN YOU CAME BACK TO FINLAND. YOU DESCRIBE THAT WORKING WITH ‘OFF’ SCENES FITS YOU BETTER. IN ANY EVENT, YOU ARE A MULTIPLE DANCE ARTIST.

R-T: Well, in a nutshell my career is a weave made of many different lines varying from improvising to creating choreographies to working as a dancer to teaching dance for camera for professionals to creating work with immigrant youth in Finland. I guess I’m mostly looking from outside-in: I grew up between cultures and still live in mix of different languages, social statuses and religions, I studied abroad and then moved back yet never stopped working abroad, so it’s just how life has made me. My aim as a maker is to take the audience to/through situations of reflection and enable subtle, personal experiences that can people move from within. To provoke non-violently but consciously. In my soul I’m a lonely nomad yet I work best in collaborations and groups. I truly get inspired by difference and excellence, despite of the discipline, of which working with the Irish mathematician Alex Clancy on Number is a good example. I tend to go for cross pollination rather than for purity. I’m interested how to choreograph beneath the surface rather than shapes and how systems or Minds grow from that mix of different elements into “self sustained intelligent systems” and surprise me. Keeping control over the work becomes besides the point when you can instead be watching creation happen. Probably my early attempts to program on my first Commandore 64 computer left it’s traces. This together with starting dancing on the street during the first wave of hip hop mixes with the later dance education during the 90’s at SNDO has create my attitude.  I’m passionate about composition and systems, of improvisation and danger and about dancing, purely and plainly. The brain needs to be be busy with science, philosophy and understanding life and structures but it’s pretty amazing to be “just taken” by dance and be led to unknown, unthought territories as well.

TELL ABOUT YOUR RECENT PERFORMANCE PROJECT AT FULL MOON DANCE FESTIVAL IN FINLAND, WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE LIKE, HOW ABOUT THE CONCEPT AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION? DO YOU HAVE OTHER REMARKS FROM THE FESTIVAL?

R-T: The project is about Happiness with a version called Tree of Happiness. The work is fundamentally a choreographed interface to make people move, think and interact on one level with me but also collectively through actions in a civic spaces and by being emotionally moved in a way which can ripple into their own lives. Practically it is a durational piece: for 3 days I meet with people, discuss and propose to answer 3 questions about Happiness on a peace of paper, which they then can hang on a tree as a leaf. The individual actions are multiplied, and make a visible installation grow, which anyone interact with. It is a very simple structure but as always, the human factor is multiplied with many participants, and creates complexity and variation, and depth. This work is very much based on a source code- choreographing approach, and the participants do not need to see or understand the structure, which happens beneath the surface to engage with and contribute to the work.

At the Full Moon Dance Festival, I also wanted to extend the movement into the social media as well, as I’m convinced Internet has radically changed how we interact, think and construct social relations and realities. Additionally I wanted to involve locals, and so through during 3 pop up events we could experience something unique, a shared personal experience of Happiness. We had a silent walk in the nature with local wilderness guide, a session to learn how to play ukulele with the local Uke-guru and a “How to be your own Tree of Happiness in 15 min” – of course led by myself.

YOU ALSO DID A PROJECT WITH DEBORAH HAY, WHO IS SUCH LEGEND IN THE FIELD. WAS THIS EXPERIENCE A KIND OF LANDMARK IN YOUR CAREER? HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE PROJECT, WHERE DID YOU PERFORM, AND WHAT DID YOUR LEARN?

R-T: Yes and no. Deborah Hay has been landmarking my career on regular 10 year intervals since I 1st saw her perform in 1993 during my 1st year at SNDO. She was such an odd appearance which stayed with. Ten years later we invited her to Helsinki for Side Step festival. I followed closely and filmed the process as she worked with a group of soloists adapt her work. Even if I read her books, listen to her closely I did not feel dancing her work was something for me. Only in 2012, 19 years after I first saw her, did I finally feel ready to dance the Dance. It came along at period with many changes in all aspects of my life including learning the solo while still relearning how to walk after an operation on both of my knees, so I Think Not (the choreography I learned with Deborah Hay), fitted to that perfectly. So she has been landmarking my life on regular intervals, always in different ways. I’m very attached to dancing the solo adaptation, even if I will ever totally “get it”, or Deborah but somehow realizing the impossibility of theconundrum (that there is nothing to “get”) will keep me engaged with the dance for the rest of my life. And Deborah might keep landmarking my career even the next 10 and 20 years with new inputs.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CITY IN AMERICA, AND WHY?

R-T: That’s a really hard question to answer. The country is so wast and varied. I did fall in love with San Francisco, but I might have been most surprised with Austin, TX. Never expected it to be so lovely, lively and arts-friendly place, good to live and work in. Also I felt a strong spiritual connection to the land and its native history, which touched me deeply.

THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON IN YOUR OWN CAREER. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE FINNISH CONTEMPORARY DANCE AT THE MOMENT?

R-T: That is the toughest question. I’ve been so much away and I don’t really follow what is being programmed as I’m not a great consumer of dance but I know most of the makes as friends and colleagues, so hard to get an objective perspective. I guess the main stream Finnish dance scene struggles with being relevant. In a social and political climate, which is very anti-art, the big work to be done is to make art and dance a vital and essential part of the society. From the US we have learned the new independent funding methods are possible together with the old, which in very short time has created a stronger footing of freelance dancers. They are joining forces creating collectives and sharing spaces more courageously than before. This is great as in the end of the day 80% of all dance performances in Finland are created not by big institutions but by freelancers. The existing Funding structures are also looking for new ways to support the field but I’m not to optimistic in their abilities to truly change. But after the Full Moon Dance Festival, I’m hopeful. The new generation of makers is wild. They are totally renegotiating the premises and aesthetics of Finnish dance, which is really not easy to reinvent: Thanks to the strong heritage of Finnish architecture and design, and the lack of social struggle, the works tend to be more visual than topic oriented and that is what audience and funding sources are accustomed to go for. The really cool side of Finnish art is that we really don’t belong to neither Western nor the Slavic culture. Our heritage and mentality is strongly connected to Nature and our shamanistic heritage lurking just beneath our modern surface. We have a knack in being potentially totally bizarre and unique, if we only allow it to come out.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

R-T: I hope to keep up with the mosaic. The big process brewing inside is the aftermath of spending last winter in residency in West Africa. My research there was into how we create realities, how art is a part of the daily and social life, and to observe and finally live the difference. Living the difference made something very deep inside of me change. To live in the world were art, dreamworld, work life, family life and big and small rituals are totally integrated together, was striking in Africa. Returning back to a reality where everything is divided in to factions has been interesting but not easy: art being a separate part of an institutionalized system of money, power and consumption feels very violating and unsustainable for me right now. I don’t feel out of tune with my work but rather the structures and my relation to funding and producing.  Luckily projects like Tree of Happiness, helps me ponder through my work how things could be differently supported to grow. In any case this kind of reassessment seems to happen regularly through out my career. I seem to need to push myself of the beaten track to find substance and interest. In the end of the day, I see my career as a long path, based on an ongoing search with the daily practices, bringing out the “branches”, which develop into specific manifestations and can be shared with the public/audience. Ever branch is different and unique but connected to the core trunk. I will keep developing further the Happiness project and the Tree of Happiness piece, and working on developing new choreographic systems. Hopefully my adaptation of Hay’s solo will follow me the rest of my life. This autumn I’ll mostly work as a dancer and maybe in the future I will return to curating and organizing, after the experience of Side Step and Daghdha there are interesting structures to keep developing further.

I’m very happy to be able to stay in Finland this autumn and work as a dancer for other makers: first for the Danish Hello!Earth group and then with Liisa Pentti+Co in Liisa’s work Space Particles. Playing music and drawing seems to occupy more of my time so I’m curious to see how it will seep into my works. I will keep teaching and traveling with residencies, hopefully returning to Africa but at least there will be working in Island next January with  Hello!Earth continuing our Kedja Wilderness residency there.

FOLLOW Riikka Theresa Innanen’s website here.

SEE HER VIMEO here..

 

Chantal Joffe’s women visit Helsinki

Chantal Joffe’s oil paintings raise questions about women as subjects of art. What is feminist art, and what makes women portraitures as subjects of feminist art? What makes Joffe’s paintings so appealing in the world of portraits is their movement and their character; whether it is the angles, features, colors and their environment. The domesticity or the everyday versus iconographic femininity is so intriguing. The art historical note would be multiple references. One thing that comes to mind in relation to Joffe is her psychological approach. Her portraits create emotional landscapes of the person they portray. Chantal Joffe’s art will come to Helsinki in August 2013. Gallerie Forsblom will feature the artist together with two other artists. According to the gallery this is the first time her art will be shown in the Nordic Countries. It is about time, as she is an international celebrity.

***

Between August 30 and September 22 Joffe’s art will be seen, together with Adel Abidin and Nelli Palomäki, at the Gallerie Forsblom.

Gallerie Forsblom: http://www.galerieforsblom.com/artists/chantal_joffe/representative_works/

More information about Chantal Joffe: http://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/_19/

2 reasons to visit Stockholm soon

Stockholm is one of the Scandinavian top top places to visit. It can be always surprising. Here are two reasons why to travel there this summer.

1)
The Wild Wonders of Europe outdoor photo exhibition is in Stockholm all summer, and it takes place in Raoul Wallenbergs Torg at Nybroplan. ‘After 135 missions by 69 of Europe’s Top Nature Photographers to 48 European countries and more than 1,100 days in the field..

2)MAGAZIN 3 Stockholm Konsthall exhibits ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE that is curated by Richard Julin and Tessa Praun. It is a series of events and unique projects (and an exhibition) taking place July 1, Aug 8 and Sep 13. Part of this is a project by MIRANDA JULY called WE THINK ALONE, starting July 1 until Nov 11 2013.  As the curators say, this ‘includes artworks that point away from the site of the exhibition itself, towards other virtual or parallel existences and experiences.’

 

Sam Kim: on choreography, residencies and intuition

What kinds of projects have you been working on recently?
 
I began a new work during a residency at The MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, New Hampshire) last fall.  I just started creating content loosely, on my own body, without any set parameters.  I found that I was still thinking a lot about a piece I made in 2007, “Cult,” a duet for myself and another woman, that still had a lot to offer.  I never want to name the “aboutness” of a dance because I don’t believe that’s what the form has to offer, but there is something about a fucked-up relationship between two women who have a relationship that’s too intimate, in that work.  I wanted to return to that land because I knew there was more to mine. 

I knew I didn’t want to make a solo, so I held an audition to find performers.  This was a strange move for me, if only evident to myself.  I think it’s not the downtown dance way of doing things, but I was really interested in seeing how the field had changed, in finding some gems without established reputations.  I was interested in being very dry and pragmatic with that part of the process.

Next came a residency in the spring at Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), which was a compact and intense work period with the three women I hired.  So, whatever I had started conceptually at MacDowell had snapped to in the form of a trio.  I’ve taken note that the way I work with myself is utterly divorced from the way I work with other performers, so in that sense, there’s still this other battery of ‘stuff’ that I’m only comfortable putting on myself for now.  I’m not sure where that material goes just yet.
 
Two weeks after the BAC residency I flew out to the Bay Area to be in residence at Djerassi Djerassi is situated on a mountain on a former cattle ranch in the Bay Area, though incredibly secluded and remote.  It seduces you into thinking you have the world to yourself.  That was conducive to making my art.
 
I was alone again so I continued to make material intuitively, working with a discrete set of objects as content instigators:  bed, mirrors, wine glasses and nylons (on legs and to cover the face) to build the choreography.  I responded to these objects as talismans as I moved through an improvisational score based on incanting.
 
What do you say about the themes you have been working on during the past year? 
 
I’m finally acknowledging to myself that I am fundamentally interested in women: women’s bodies in the form of dance.  Women are mysterious to me, maybe at their most compelling in relationship to each other.  I’m just drawn to strange and powerful and frightening relationships between women.  There are a slew of films that come to mind as touchstones in their treatments of strange relationships between women: “3 Women,” “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant,” Breillat’s “Bluebeard,” “Mulholland Drive.”
 
I’m also drawn to the nature of ritual–what it means to enact certain rites, to supplicate, to reveal something intimate that’s not intended for anyone else’s eyes. 
 
You are a conceptual choreographer, how did your thinking shift, in relation to your artistic development, how about your identity?
 
I’ve always understood, fundamentally, for me, that dances hang on form.  But as I grow older and my eye gets sharper, I actually put that more and more into practice as opposed to getting hung up on any specific content, or getting really militant about execution.  It’s all about proportion with the fundamental elements of choreography:  time, space and bodies.  And how I organize these things with and against one another, undermine the content, etc.  I value ideas first and foremost, and then rigor in the execution of those ideas.  I am not engaged with issues about idealized and beautiful bodies in dance.
 
Name your most important influences in the dance field?  How about other influences, and mentors?
 
When I was 19 or 20 I saw Pina Bausch’s work for the first time at BAM.  Not to sound overly dramatic, but it changed my life.  My sense of what was possible in dance and art just exploded in magnitude.  Merce CunninghamRoseAnne SpradlinTere O’Connor.  Visual art, fashion, music, literature.  Always film.
 
I don’t know if I rely so heavily on what I see in dance.  What seems to be more instructive and inspiring for me is to see how artists in other forms solve problems relative to their forms.

 

What visions do you have for the future, how do you see other activities (your board work and writing) in relation to your choreographic practice?
 
I am continuing to work on this new trio within the framework of two additional residencies in NYC (I’m not at liberty to say what they are at this time) that will take place over the next two years.  They are completely process-oriented, however, there will be showings.
 
As much as I resist it, writing about what I’m doing can help clarify to myself what I’m doing.  I can actually learn something.  Writing about making dances tortures me, but I secretly enjoy the torture, too, because it is a concomitant, compositional act to choreographing.  You organize information and you try to make the best choices to express what you want.  It makes me a better thinker, and hence, a better artist.
 
I’m no longer on the board of DTW since it’s now NYLA and a completely different organization altogether.  I’ve never had a feel for any kind of activity that can become the least bit bureaucratic.  I can be an insanely stubborn purist, so what feeds my choreography is entirely separate from any organizational activity.
 
Do you want to say something about the NYC dance scene?

It’s getting interesting.
 

New York City Grand Central Centennial celebrates with arts

New York City Mass Transit has a program called MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design, which commissions artists through a competitive selection process to create original, site-specific permanent artwork for stations. This spring, there was also auditioning for a role of a subway performer. Link and more info here

Grand Central Diary is a video created by London Squared Productions. It is currently part of the exhibition “On Time / Grand Central at 100” (curated and organized by MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design). It is now on view through July 7 at the New York Transit Museum Gallery, which is located at the terminal. Grand Central Diary is a short film that shows the everyday routines at the station from a fun and quarky perspective of animated objects at the terminal and nearby.

Artist Spotlight: Daniella Rabbani

Daniella Rabbani, actress, singer,  and a new yorker is currently producing and starring in #GYMSHORTS, a series of Web Shorts. Daniella graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a focus on acting for television. She also studied at The Stella Adler Studio of Acting.  
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: What productions/premieres did you do recently? 
 

DANIELLA RABBANI: THE GOLDEN LAND, THE OFF BROADWAY MUSICAL I WAS IN THIS PAST FALL WAS NOMINATED FOR A DRAMA DESK! I GOT TO DRESS UP AND GO TO THE NOMINEE RECEPTION AND THE AWARD CEREMONY. IT WAS SO FUN!  I’M CURRENTLY PRODUCING AND STARRING IN #GYMSHORTS ABOUT THE FUNNY THINGS THAT HAPPEN AT THE GYM. IT’S AWESOME. I GET TO DO BE REALLY GOOFY WITH SOME OF THE FUNNIEST ACTORS I KNOW AND PUMP IRON WITH TRAINERS LIKE BRETT HOEBEL FROM THE BIGGEST LOSER. IT’S HYSTERICAL.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Who are your greatest mentors and idols? 

DR: I’VE BEEN VERY BLESSED IN MY LIFE TO HAVE SEASONED  PROFESSIONALS, MASTERS AT WHAT THEY DO, TAKE ME UNDER THEIR WING. I APPRENTICED UNDER THE STELLA ADLER STUDIO’S HEAD OF MOVEMENT, JENA NECRASON, FOR YEARS. SHE TAUGHT ME HOW TO FOLLOW MY INSTINCTS, TO TELL A STORY WITHOUT ANY WORDS AT ALL, TO COLLABORATE AND TO TEACH. I ALSO SING IN YIDDISH. ZALMEN MLOTEK, THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL YIDDISH THEATER, HUNKERED DOWN WITH ME FOR HOURS AND HOURS TEACHING ME BEAUTIFUL YIDDISH FOLK AND THEATER TUNES. WE TOURED TOGETHER FOR YEARS. EVEN ARTISTS I HAVEN’T MET YET- GIRLS LIKE GRETA GURWIG, LENA DUNHAM, ZOOEY DESCHANEL, MINDY KALING – GIRLS WHO TAKE THEIR ARTISTRY AND FATE INTO THEIR OWN HANDS- THESE ARE MENTORS TO ME TOO.

What is your favorite performance genre, which one do you like more, musical theater, drama or film? 

DR: I’M INSPIRED TO CREATE MORE WEB-BASED FEMALE DRIVEN COMEDIC CONTENT. I THINK THE WEB IS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE AND I DIG IT. MY BACKGROUND IS IN THEATER, WHICH I TOTALLY LOVE, AND MY FUTURE IS IN TV (IT’S ALWAYS BEEN MY DREAM). STATING A PREFERENCE IS LIKE PLAYING FAVORITES WITH YOUR CHILDREN… EVERYONE DOES IT BUT IT’S NOT THE TYPE OF THING YOU’RE GONNA ADMIT.


Do you tour, how is it different to perform in New York City and elsewhere?
 

DR: I TOUR LESS THESE DAYS. THE LAST TIME I SANG A CONCERT OUT OF TOWN, WE WERE IN WARSAW, POLAND SINGING TO HUNDREDS OF POLES IN YIDDISH. IT WAS INTENSE. BEAUTIFUL AND INSPIRING, SAD AND HAUNTING… I GOT TO GET TO KNOW WARSAW A BIT AND EVEN TOUR AROUND KRAKOW AND AUSCHWITZ… IT WAS A COMPLICATED, LIFE CHANGING TRIP.

 
How do you consider yourself as a role model for young people?
 
DR: WHEN I PERFORM, I TRY TO BE MY FULLEST SELF- BY EMBRACING MY HUMANITY WITH ALL ITS GREATNESS AND EVEN MY IMPERFECTIONS. I HOPE THAT THE AUDIENCE WATCHING CAN FEEL INSPIRED TO LIVE THEIR FULLEST LIVES AS WELL.
 
Daniella Rabbani’s own website. Follow @DaniellaRabbani on Twitter.,  @drabbani on Instagram.

Oblivia performance group and the Museum of Postmodern Art

Founded in 2000 in Helsinki, the international performance company Oblivia is truly a unique phenomena in the Finnish performance scene. The group transforms larger than life themes into minimalist performances. Oblivia’s group fuses different genres and nationalities. The members are from Finland and the UK have experiences in music, dance and theory, which allows them to play between suspended tension and sense of humor. Since its beginning, the group has attempted to create a common language in the performance. In June 2013, Oblivia will perform its recent work ‘Museum of Postmodern Art’ in the NEW Performance Turku Festival in Turku Finland. The performance is co-produced by at PACT Zollverein and Espoo City Theatre. The premier took place at PACT Zollverein, Essen in November 2012 and the Finnish premier was at Espoo City Theatre in November 2012. The performance is the first in a series of five and part of the five-year project Museum of Postmodern Art – MOPMA. Annika Tudeer, the founding member of Oblivia tells about the history of the group and about her own background in dance.

AT: In the late eighties I trained dance, contact improvisation and what was called new dance then. I then worked as a dancer and choreographer until I started at the Helsinki University in 1994 where I studied literature as a main subject, philosophy, theater studies and gender studies. I belong to the rather self-taught generation that mainly acquired knowledge and experience through training and working. I also did amdram and studenthteatre that was quite important as well. Oblivia was founded in 2000 in Helsinki during the European Cultural Capital year. I had this grand idea of creating a network and collective of artists doing site-specific work. However I had not realized that a collective does not have a leader who decides most things (that was me, of course) and is in charge, but that kind of leadership is better suited in a smaller group. We did 4 site specific pieces during that year that were very popular and had therefore a great start, and in the autumn Anna Krzystek from UK joined us and the smaller Oblivia that is still exists was formed.

I basically wanted to create an alternative working environment to most of what I had experienced in the dance and theater field in Finland, experiment how to work together and have fun and create high quality work, merging theory and art in an organic way, not paying too much attention to theory but rely on the fact that it is there. I was also very interested in structures, all kind of structures: working environmental structures, political structures, artistic structures, architectonical structures, and that was always part for the work somehow. I still organize the practical stuff together with our producer, but the artistic work is purely collective.

 How has the concept developed during the years?

AT: After doing site-specific work for a few years we decided to move into the black box using light and sound and start to explore the black box. It is the most challenging place and also the place for most concentration and innovation in performing arts we think. We are super organized, working away from 10-17 Monday to Friday over 4 months that are divided over the year. The work has evolved a lot, we work over several months with a piece, with pauses in-between where we tour or do other things (me mainly admin and networking). I also think that we have become much more many faceted in the work and how we perform and at the moment we are very much concerned with ideas of collaboration. Which means a lot of discussions and trials and errors. The work becomes richer and bolder all the time. It is minimalistic and maximalist at the same time. We work with an empty stage and fill it with ideas and images that are created in the heads of the audience.

How international are you as a group in terms of performances, touring, attending festivals?

AT: Anna Krzystek lives in Glasgow, so she commutes to Helsinki for rehearsals, we are occasionally on residencies in Europe, and our current project Museum of Postmodern Art that contains 5 performances over 5 years (2012-2016) has first an international premier and then a national premier. We tour as much as we possible internationally and although the growth could be swifter, we are touring quite nicely.

How do you generate and create the concepts, what are the terms of collaboration?

AT: Well, we decide on a theme, and since we like long term planning so the previous project Entertainment Island became a trilogy that was finished in 2010 and has toured since and now we have MOPMA (Museum of Postmodern Art) going. We decide on the big theme that is now art for five years and previously was entertainment. Then we decide on what kind of take we take for each new performance a little before we start to work on it. Then we start to improvise, devise material and do free association and a lot of talking and some field trips. Now we are working on the idea of bad art, and what that means to us and what it foes to us. We talked a lot at the beginning, had a workshop and at the moment we are in the second working phase where we go deeper in the material and slowly start to make sense of it and structure it. Basically we are the three of us (Anna, myself and Timo Fredriksson) working away, popping in and out of impros. But we have worked for 13 years together now so we have a secure sense of being in the studio without outside eyes. We have also started to involve our light and sound designers much more that is wonderful, so they share the process, the talking, and the figuring out a lot from the beginning. They also watch rehearsals and comment.


What is your opinion of the performance field currently, how do art and performance co-exist?

AT: I have a feeling that the field is growing rapidly, and that the boundaries are blurred totally. We have all diverse trainings: Anna studied at the Cunningham studio in New York for several years, you saw my background and Timo is a classical pianist. This kind of heterogenic diversity is perhaps not that common, but nevertheless companies and projects are vibrant and mixed. It is interesting and exciting times we are living in re: performances. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the quantity of performances, and work and activities and sometimes I miss a feeling of a clear trend and some leading stars and high quality work is not all too common skilled yes, but work that moves me is not that common at the moment. But in general I think that there is a very exciting scene going on at the moment.


Your most important influences?

AT: The old companies like Needcompany, Forced Entertainment, Pina Bausch, John Cage, – the usual suspects…

 Where do you see your project going, how do you balance the work and life, how about the ‘other interventions’?

AT: We are starting to reach out and are discussing several collaborations with other companies, which is a totally new situation. We intend to tour more and more for each year, and also to communicate more with other artists in various ways. Sometimes we feel a little isolated here, so we are working on breaking out from that isolation and become more part of the world, so to say. For me work and life are intertwined since my husband is Timo who is part of the Oblivia core and we have to deal with how to take care of our 9-year-old daughter as well. I have also been very active in founding the Performance center, ESKUS in Helsinki for working: with three studios, and a shared office for companies and individuals in the performance scene and independent scene in Helsinki. We have residencies, rent out spaces and work on different levels to be a supportive structure without being a venue or a production house.

 Oblivia will premier MOPMA 2 (that is the working title, the real title will emerge soon) in mid September in Trondheim, Norway at the Bastard festival. Until then the company will tour MOPMA 1 in Finland and Entertainment Island in Poland

MOPMA_v2_06
(Annika Tudeer and Timo Fredriksson. capture: Eija Mäkivuoti)

Oblivia’s website and Facebook page...

Designer Mari Isopahkala // fresh whirlwind from the Milan Design Week

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: COULD YOU TELL A GREAT STORY FROM MILAN, AN ENCOUNTER, HOW WAS IT LIKE THIS TIME?
Mari Isopahkala: It was overall a great trip, although these design exhibition weeks are sometimes heavy. Meeting different people and professionals is very interesting and gives you back a lot. As I had to be standing a lot, and walk around long distances between the exhibit places, I kept changing my shoes to feel more comfortable. I got few great contacts. It will be exiting to see what these new things will bring me in the near future.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU ATTENDED MILAN DESIGN WEEK?

Mari Isopahkala: Many times, I have not even counted. Not every single year during my active working years, but almost. It is already a very familiar place to me.
 
 
(Designer Mari Isopahkala with a ruffle carpet, 2009. Capture: Liisa Valonen. Above: Kristallit small glasses, Konkkaronkka cutlery for Marimekko, designed by Mari Isopahkala)
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: WHEN YOU WERE IN NEW YORK TWO YEARS AGO, WHAT DID THE CITY OFFER?

Mari Isopahkala: It was good to see what the industry is like in North America. What are the current trends there, who are participating in those trends, and so forth. New York City is definitely quite different from the North Europe. Commercialism and business are in a higher level in the North American marketplace. What I can say about Finland is that we tend to be not so good in selling and marketing. I still have so much to learn about it, and even about how to brand my products. What I admired in New York City was the openness of people, how they have positive energy and courage. They also seemed to be forward thinking.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Your design-language is very poetic, and perhaps minimalistic (or is this a stereotypy that is often attached to Scandinavian design?). In any event, how would you describe your designing?

Mari Isopahkala: Thank you, poetic is very beautifully put. Well, I would not consider minimalism as a stereotypical thing in the Nordic design. I think that minimalism comes so naturally. We are living that type of lifestyle, and it shows in the designs, which is unpretentious. This notion contains our products and our environment. I would describe my own design-language as clear, and yet personal. It does not shout too loud, yet it does not leave you cold. I hope that my designs are attractive as well. My products have some Ostrobothnian (Finnish) femininity in them. They comply strength, and also sensitivity.  

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: It is simply amazing that you are so diverse as a designer, you have interior design, jewellery, everyday objects, unique industrial design pieces, lighting design, and so on. Is there a design, which is closer to you personally and why?  

Mari Isopahkala: Yes, I like to do different things. It keeps my mind open and fresh, and very much helps to discover new things. When I look at the ideas from outside, I have to learn new things. This creates newness and innovation. I enjoy working together with skilled craftsmen from different industries. I have a huge respect for artisan’s skills.  If I had to pick one material, it would be glass. I am so intrigued by the practice in glass factories. It is hypnotic to watch the melting glass. It feels almost sensational.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Can you name a few of your mentors and inspirations, Finnish and international? 

Mari Isopahkala: I have many inspirations in art, design, and in the everyday life. I have not been following anyone’s path really, but I have been gaining inspiration from many great masters in the past and in the present. The environment where I live inspires me tremendously.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How would you describe the essence of nature in your designs, the Finnish nature-urban dynamics? What comes to mind also is the Nordic nature with mythological traces, how it can be present in our consciousness. Is there room for utopia in your designs?

Mari Isopahkala: Nature is so important part of my life and that way it probably shows in my designs. It is not an absolute value but it is present. I have tried also other ‘domains’, and any kinds of oppositions interest me. I think I question existing myths in a good way. There is of course room for utopias in my designs. I have a need to move things forward towards the unknown paths.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Can design be masculine and feminine?

Mari Isopahkala: Good designer can utilize both, and then be without specificity of these qualities. Doing feminine or masculine design can be a conscious choice. I am very aware of my own choices. And I have used both of these two qualities. So I am trying my best.    

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: What are your future plans?  

Mari Isopahkala: There are many things, some of the plans are still in the air, so to speak, some on the other hand are in the process. Right now I have worked so hard that its time to start planning the summer. I believe that once you get some rest you gain new perspectives. Then it is also time to make next big decisions. 
1. greenhouse light, 2. viikari light in space, 3. viikari basis, 4. no jaa big sculpted light
5. furing jewellery, 6. winter pearl jewellery, 7. suma fiilis jewellery set,  8. kristallit fat glass

Artist Interview: Heino Schmid

Heino Schmid is an artist living and working in Nassau, Bahamas. He completed his MA in Fine Arts at the Utrecht School of the Arts in The Netherlands, and got his BFA degree in Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, US. Heino Schmid participated at the VOLTA NY Show with Nassau-based Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts in March 2013.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: You were born in Bahamas, how did that build your artist identity?

HS: My father is German and my mother is Bahamian but I was born and raised in the Bahamas where I’ve lived my whole life outside of my education. I did my undergraduate studies in the US and my graduate studies in The Netherlands. My artistic identity is very much rooted in my experiences here and I find a great deal of fodder and inspiration in my immediate environment. As a country The Bahamas really lends itself to a lot of material investigation and I’ve really enjoyed having my studio and my creative practice based here. It’s close enough to the US where I am still able to see significant exhibitions but it’s private enough for me to develop a body of work on my own terms.


Firstindigo&Lifestyle: What does globalization mean to you?

HS: Globalization, in terms of the creative process, means communication. Through social media it’s never been easier to have constructive conversations with your peers and that is really exciting. The Internet also levels the playing field in terms of information. It’s a wonderful time to be a creative thinker because there’s so much information available, which I can filter at my own pace and discretion to construct a viable practice.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How did you experience VOLTA, what did it offer you personally?

HS: The VOLTA NY experience was extremely constructive to me. I believe that as an artist you initially control the medium of the work, the content, the presentation and the context of the work, but the context is the most fluid and gives your work life. It was hugely exciting for me to take my work out of the context in which it was made and place it in an environment where the dialogue would be completely different. The conversations that I had at VOLTA NY were constructive, positive and completely impossible to have, I think, in The Bahamas given the change of context.

HEINO SCHMID, Mixed media on paper with painted coconuts, 45 x 45 in, 2003/2013.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Where is your focus as an artist, the media and the location?

HS: As an artist I try to really approach art in itself as a visual dialogue so the media and the location hold equal sway in the production of my projects. The balance between media and location is always an interesting problem to solve. On the one hand you want to stay open to your environment you’re in no matter where you are to produce work, and on the other hand you want to make the work that’s relevant to your own practice in a sustainable way. When considered responsibly I think the tension between the two is always an exciting and productive challenge to embrace.

Paolo Cavinato at VOLTA

Paolo Cavinato, RILIEVO #2 CUCINA CON PRESENZA
Paolo Cavinato, LIBERATION #2
Italian artist Paolo Cavinato was presented at VOLTA NY 2013 by Milanese Massimo Carasi Gallery. Cavinato is an artist using diverse techniques that enhance spaces from multi-sensorial perspective. Cavinato’s training as set-designer and interior designer, perhaps creates the point of view that makes the reality, or the space we usually inhabit a suspension. He does fascinating interior research works with wood, iron, nylon and acrylic. Yet, these works represent schemes for something bigger and more in meta-scale. As, on the other hand, his many TEATRINO-projects display the depth of a meta-structure. They are intriguing indeed, and can be viewed at his webpage. Art and design, language, conception, architecture, interiors, houses, are all mixed as a form of existentialism of being.
Paul Cavinato, TEATRINO