THE BODY OF THE SPECTATOR

REALITY RESEARCH CENTER

 

“The ‘performance’ is precisely the experience, the center of which the spectator inhabits.”
Terike Haapoja, visual artist

“Maybe I cried on the way back due to my experience of wellbeing.”
Timo Oiva, musician, composer

 

In 2008 I directed with Julius Elo the research plan of Reality Research Center. In the previous years we had started to make performances the stage of which was the body of the spectator. We were deeply fascinated by it. So we chose to embark on a research that would focus especially on it.

We gathered a group that would work with us throughout the year. With them we realized five workshops and two performances and practiced somatic techniques on a weekly basis. Although we used the term ”body”, our critique was directed towards the reigning consventional dualism between the stage and the auditorium, and the body and the mind. We hoped to arrive somewhere else.

 

WORKSHOPS

Spectator Body Workshops focused on different ways to approach and activate the body of the spectator in a performance. Workshops were 5-6-day intensives.

  1. Interactive performance by Julius Elo and Tuomas Laitinen in January.
  2. Stage as an Inner State by Eero-Tapio Vuori in February.
  3. Movement and Kinesthetic Experience by Felix Ruckert in March.
  4. The Intimate by Felix Ruckert in August.
  5. The Concert by Kimmo Modig in September.

Performer Body Workshop focused on the borders of body and mind – on the sensitivity towards and understanding of ones own body. The workshops was ongoing throughout the year and it was led by martial arts teacher Pasi Pölönen, Body-Mind Centering teacher Riikka Theresa Innanen and by myself and Julius.

 

PERFORMANCES

During the spring we created Renounciation, a retreat performance that immersed its participants inside a performative world for 13 hours on a villa in the outskirts of Helsinki. The performance provided them possibilities to renounce things like power, time, space, self and distance through performative actions and encounters.

In the autumn we focused our attention to intimate encounters between spectators and performers and created the installation performance Realm of the Invisible. It was formed as a series of bodily encounters that each spectator would have with individual performers. They were guided in a maze from one encounter to another. The performance was realized in two different spaces: first in a museum gallery in Kiasma contemporary art museum, then in a theatre at Hurjaruuth stage.

The third performance of the research project, Mail Order Experimance, was created by Risto Santavuori and Eero-Tapio Vuori. It is a suggestive performance that combines elements of theatre and hypnosis. The performance is delivered home inside an envelope and executed by the spectators themselves in the privacy of their own bathrooms.

In the autumn 2008 the issue of Esitys magazine was dedicated to our project with the theme Former Spectator. In the magazine we opened up some of the results of our research. After the research year we published the book Experiencing Body, which was composed of articles written by both the artists involved with the project and spectators that had taken part to our performances. The book was alo full of images photographed in Renounciation and Realm of the Invisible by Jan Ahlstedt.