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Leena Kela

Dialogues – collaboration as a method for researching the language of performance art

(b. 1979) performance artist, curator, doctoral candidate and residency director based in Finland



In my works and research I explore a dialogue of corporeality and materiality in performance art. I make performances that play with and twist our relationship with everyday objects. I have presented my performances in a number of contexts in Finland, and internationally in performance art festivals and exhibitions in every continent except Antarctica. I work as an artistic director of the New Performance Turku Biennale and as a residency director of Saari Residence maintained by Kone Foundation. 

I started as a doctoral student at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki in 2015.

Previous Education

MA in Live Art and Performance Studies, the Theatre Academy, Helsinki 2010

Art Teacher Pedagogical qualification, Lahti Polytechnic, Institute of Design, Lahti 2007

BA in Crossing Borders in Performing Arts, Turku Arts Academy 2003


Dialogues – collaboration as a method for researching the language of performance art

My research focuses on performance art as a language as well as various questions around collaboration and interaction. It consists of performance projects that I realize together with scientists and artist colleagues as well as with different non-human agents as animals, objects and materials. In my research I focus on various methods, phases and languages emerging in these collaboration processes. 

A language is a system of conventional spoken or written symbols that humans use in order to express themselves and to communicate. Language is social, since it has to be shared for us to intuitively understand that we speak the same language. The language of performance art is not a spoken or written language, but could it be a language of interaction between corporeality and materiality? If we think performance art is a language, it could then also be learned, taught, documented and sustained. My attempt is not to abridge performance art only as a language, but to apply linguistics to examine performance art with creative and experimental manner. 

The introduction part of my artistic research was a performance called Alphabet of Performance Art (2015-2017), where I examined the relationship between materiality and corporeality by performing with objects and materials typical for performance art. The second pre-examined project was One Year Demonstration (2017-2018), which took place as a daily performance protest in Instagram. The third pre-examined project will be an exhibition The Rest of Usat the Kunsthalle Turku in October 2022, including video works There Is No Planet B (2020), Rest of Time (2021) and If You Fall, We Will Fall Too (2022).


I have been teaching performance art both in practice and theory since 2005 in various art Universities, academies and schools around Finland. In addition I have been teaching curating and producing performance art. 

2013 – 2019  Visiting teacher of performance art, various courses, Live Art and Performance Studies MA programme, Theatre Academy

2017              Visiting teacher of performance art, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Kankaanpää

2015 – 2017  Coordinating teacher of Masters degree program of Applying Arts, Turku Arts Academy, Turku University of Applied Sciences

2013 – 2017  Supervisor and examiner of various master thesis, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki

2010-2012    Visiting teacher of performance art, Turku Arts Academy

2006-2010    Visiting teacher of performance art for art pedagogy students, Institute of Design, Lahti

2005-2008    Visiting teacher of performance art at Art School Maa, Helsinki; Orivesi Art School; Lapland University, Rovaniemi; Turku Arts Academy; the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki and Nordic Art School, Kokkola

KuvA research activities

This blog highlights the activities of the research unit and doctoral programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki | Tämä blogi esittelee Kuvataideakatemian tutkimusyksikön ja tohtorikoulutusohjelman tapahtumia ja toimintaa | I den här bloggen presenteras verksamheten och evenemangen vid Bildkonstsakademins forskningsenhet och doktorandprogram

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