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Simo Kellokumpu & Leena Rouhiainen: Zoom discussion in two parts on worldmaking and contemporaneity #1

S = Simo (in a small working booth at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts, screen background blurred)
L = Leena (at home at a desk, screen background blurred)

(Zoom opens)

S: Hi Leena and thanks for meeting me! I contacted you because I am working with my colleague Jana Unmüssig on the publication of the 40th anniversary seminar day on higher education in dance and choreography at the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki (TeaK). I would like to talk with you about artistic research, doctoral education and the future of artistic research at TeaK. We don’t have much time here, but it would be nice to go through some of the research news for our publication. The theme of the 40th anniversary is Worldmaking and Contemporaneity. Let’s start by asking what thoughts do these words and the way they are brought together evoke in you?

L: A spontaneous association of ‘the world’ is a time and place specific world, which lives in a global context. When the two terms, the world and contemporaneity, are put together, one thinks about how many such specific things and worlds overlap. A key question that arises in this context is how do we become aware of and recognise these overlaps, and how do we identify possible commonalities and differences between them? Our multi-crisis world forces us to look at our own position in relation to global situations.

S: What might this mean in art, for example: have there been any particular trends that have emerged in recent years?

L: My observation is that for the last decade at least, hybridization of art has been a trend of going beyond conventional art media, and also borrowing from other forms of life. In doing so, art often has a political purpose, challenging us to be in new relationships with reality and to seek solutions to even the most complex questions. Reflection and the positioning of one’s own actions and reflection on relationality are important here. That is what these words together highlight.

S: I recognise this very well in my own and colleagues’ artistic work. For example, reflection on ecological relationality is familiar in the performing arts, but I wonder here what are the means of artistic practice that could support the ability to identify and articulate multiple simultaneous specificities and overlaps? Self-positioning is certainly one way, and contextual and situational positioning practices are important. Relativities and overlaps also produce bodies and looking at this is perhaps also a viable perspective to articulate the complexity within dance and choreographic frameworks. In my post.doc project, I took the ecological question from the planetary to the interplanetary in my artistic work, and through speculative fiction I explored the tangle in which the body is situated. How do you think one might approach this kind of interrelationship that the theme words of the seminar together create?

L: The idea of otherness and respect for others comes to mind. What are the forms of cooperation and the actors with whom I am or have been involved? How have they shaped me and my interests? Perhaps identifying and seeing the emphases and practices that emerge through these questions could be one way. Let me emphasize that looking at this does not necessarily imply a relation only to living beings but to all kinds of circumstances. What kind of historical remnants do we carry with us, which are then projected into space?  It is good to reflect both on what I am interested in and what am I missing by focusing on this particular thing? What are the indirect influences at the threshold and background of consciousness, what has an impact even if it is not tangibly present. In other words, what does the focus rely on or exclude? 

S: Actually this raises the next question, what are the relevant things? What are the themes, words, ideas that have recently been present in the choices, the circulation and recycling of artistic research and art?

L: The ecological problem and the challenges of equality are obvious. I would also like to talk about the fact that if we recognise the multiple dimensions of co-operativism that I mentioned, and which are also in the background, we can also open up new possibilities for being human. After all, we need a new concept of humanity in which human’s value is not measured in terms of performance and in which materials are not seen as merely productive-technical things to be exploited.

S: Yes, this also applies to artistry and artist education. What kind of rethinking at a practical level is needed to unravel and reroute the tangle we are discussing? The overlapping and interrelatedness creates a slowly identifiable moving mass that contributes to the ontological level of art making. If this mass is to be rerouted in art, what is the effect on practice at both the personal and institutional level? For me, it is a question of a new ecological and economic organization.

L: It is indeed necessary to take into account the time for change to take place and to permeate the societal complexity. This raises the question of how such a process is possible while respecting the ‘other’?

Pause. The discussion continues a bit later.   

World­mak­ing and Con­tem­po­rane­ity – 40 years of higher ed­u­ca­tion in Dance and Chore­og­ra­phy

This bilingual publication (Finnish/English) collects and extends traces of a seminar that took place October 23rd at the Theatre Academy (Teak) University of the Arts Helsinki. The seminar was held on the occasion of Teak´s 40th anniversary of higher art education in dance and choreography. Seminar focus was on worldmaking and contemporaneity in dance and choreography in higher art education.

The publication aims at opening the potential for dialogue and conversation about dance and choreography pedagogy in higher art education with a local and international body of readers. Hence the publication may be seen as an opportunity for conversation about dance and choreography training in higher art education beyond the day of the festivity of the 40th anniversary.

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