An Intermedial Approach to Audience-Oriented Performance
A doctoral research project at the Performing Arts Research Center Tutke 2017-2023
This research project is concerned with questions like “what is (an) audience?” and “what is the nature of audiencing in the (post)pandemic era?”
Between early 2018 and late 2021 I have conducted a series of artistic experiments, through and in which my thinking on the above questions has taken place. These experiments are readings – performative events, in which the audience is reading something I have prepared for them. Each of these performative texts reiterate the question of audience and aim to enable a reflective position for the audience, inviting them to think about their condition as audience members.
Below are listed some of the research experiments.
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audience drafts 4: Eight orientations
April 9, 2018 / Choreography in Action / Dansehallerne, Copenhagen
I started my research practice by applying the format of a program leaflet, used widely by theatres as a way to inform and orient audiences as they enter a performance. My strategy was to provide only the orientation, defering the gesture of staging something.
In the case of Choreography in Action -event, eight different programs were available, and each audience member was asked to choose one. Each program was based on a theoretical reference, giving a specific orientation to audiencing: for example, the audience member could choose to approach the event as an emancipated spectator (according to Jacques Rancière), a narcicistic participant (according to Adam Alston) or via an autopoietic feedback loop (according to Erika Fischer-Lichte).
audience drafts 5: Audiencing Nakba
May 8, 2018 / Recall, Reflect, Return – Palestine Performance Symposium / Kahlil Sakakini Center, Ramallah
The symposium took place on the week preceding the 70th commemoration of Nakba (arab. “catastrophe”), the deportation of Palestine population in connection with the founding of the State of Israel. It was realized in three locations in Palestine: Al Arroub refugee camp, Betlehem and Ramallah.
Each audience member at Kahlil Sakakini Center received the same program, available in Arabic and English. The program framed the event with the question of an “us” in the violent political condition, which had inspired the symposium and caused myself and other non-local artists to take part in it. Within this frame, it invited the audience to use 30 minutes of audience time to create something, to create itself as an audience.
audience drafts 8: The impact of art
November 14, 2018 / Kilo of Art Seminar, Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival / Helsinki
This draft was composed of 33 personal letters. I asked the festival to provide me with a list of participants of the seminar in advance. I then wrote a letter, which had both common sections and personalized sections. The common sections would deal with the theme of the seminar, the impact of art. In the personalized sections I would address the reader as an individual. Some of them I knew in advance, and would then refer to our common history or to way I percieve them as unique personalities. Those who I did not know, I looked up in the internet. I got to know their interests, if possible, and quoted their own texts, or texts that I knew were important to them.
The letters were handed to them as they entered the seminar, and the envelope instructed to open it at a specific time during the afternoon. Everyone opened the envelopes at the same time and started reading. The letter also instructed to wait in the end of each page until everyone was ready and then turn the page at the same time. Thus both the pace and the content created a fluxuation between the private and the shared.
audience drafts 15: Six impossible things before breakfast
August 31, 2019 / Future Manifestos / Artistic Doctorates in Europe, Zodiak – Center for New Dance, Helsinki
Artistic Doctorates in Europe was a three-year project by eight organizations enhancing the impact of these degrees. ADiE invited three artistic-researchers – Tuomas Laitinen, Rachel Krische and Anne Juren – to offer a vision or manifesto for an unknown future as part of the ‘Future Manifestos’ event, Helsinki, August 2019.
In my manifesto, I wrote a 21-part curriculum for the future doctorate. This curriculum I delivered to the audience as 21 different letters, of which of them each got one. Also, I had arranged an unconventional and multidirectional seating in the theatre. The letters were read simultaneously and they directed the audience to compose a polyreceptive collective choreography.
The first examined artistic part: A Reading of Audience
November 11-26, 2020 / Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy
Reading of Audience was a 150-page script divided into a prologue, three acts and two intermissions. It proposed a theory of audience of sorts and was a compilation of my research and thinking process that had taken place during the doctorate so far.
I collaborated with lighting designer Nanni Vapaavuori and scenograph Maiju Loukola. Reading the script togehter in different phases of its development was also our method of collaboration. The reading was realized 19 times during the process out of which 6 times among the three of us, 5 times with an invited audience and 8 times publicly.
I addition to the script, the work contained a lighting and spatial design and a reading tray, built by Vesa Rämä. The text was available both in Finnish and English. The English version was proofread and commented by Robert Kocik.
audience drafts 16: Treasure
In this project organized by Die Fabrikanten, 10 artists from Austria, Slovenia, Australia and Finland research the establishment of encounters at a distance to build relationships in the pandemic era.
The work included for example scored zoom meetings, intimate remote encounters, telepathic practices and art works exchanged via mail. In the image as an example a ritualistic performance score sent by me to the Slovenian artist Grega Mocivnik.
audience drafts 17: Purity and Danger
20th-28th August 2021 / Performance Wagon , Reality Research Center
Purity and Danger is a performance in letter format for a group of three people in minimum. It was originally created for the Performance Wagon, which is a concept by Reality Research Center. The Performance Wagon had 15 different performances, which the customers could purchase and participate instantly in the surroundings, in the heart of Helsinki.
Purity and Danger was inspired by the fact that performance, in pandemic times and before, is a “dirty” art form, and always influenced by the viral, material and affective impurities of its participants. Letter guides its audience to a playful contemplation of the dangers and delights enabled by this impurity.
audience drafts 18: When the Act of Reading is Not Trivial
August 26, 2021 / The Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts CARPA / Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy
The CARPA Colloquium was arranged as an online conference due to Covic-19 restrictions. I prepared a reading for the Zoom conference call environment. This reading dealt with the subject of participation as unconventional audience role and what does that mean in relation to literature and reading. What is the relationship of non-trivial reading arrangements to the field of performance and more specificly participatory performance.
Also the form of this reading reflected its content, creating a situation, in which the participants negotiated their role and level of involvement.
audience drafts 19: Letter as a Performance
October 2, 2021 / Epistolary Research Network Conference / online
In the Epistolary Research Network Conference I presented an online reading similar in form to the CARPA work described above. The text dealt with my use of letter and the event of its reading as a performance format. Also I included material from the other presentations of the conference, as I had my presentation on the second day, thus making it situation-specific and personal to its audience members, like is common in the medium of the letter.
audience drafts 20: Time to Audience, act 1
November 13, 2021 / multiple locations / Moving in November festival, Helsinki
The work was composed of 40 rolls of paper, available from the three venues of Moving in November Festival an hour before the scheduled event. The audience was then free to conduct the reading anywhere they chose. What was asked from them was to do it at the same moment in time, at 7pm that day. The audience was thus located in several places, but at the same time.
audience drafts 21: Time to Audience, act 2
December 2, 2021 – January 30, 2022 / Ebb and flow, Kuva/Tila Gallery, Uniarts Helsinki’ s Fine Arts Academy
Also the second act was composed of 40 rolls of paper, which where available at the exhibition. One roll was added to the installation every morning during the 40 days the exhibition was open. The audience was thus, contrary to the first act, located in the same place, but distributed in time accross two months.