/  Stuff

This page is for selected ramblings on various subjects ranging from acting techniques to experimental contemporary dance to clubs.

Finnish version of this page has also some different posts.

2nd Moodswings

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

We had our 2nd set of Moodswings club last Saturday on 3. 11. 2012 as a Halloween special at Kauppayhtiö, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Media genius VJ Merrylaeinen managed to conjure a wondrous set of interactive media by creating an interface of one pumpkin and five apples by which you were able to control the LED-based visuals. To specify: If you touched the pumpkin and any of the five apples at the same time it radically changed the visual system. And as on our first time, some people won some strange prices. Like a huge pumpkin.

We had a short story to go with the visual system which went as follows:

On the altar you will find a pumpkin of Satan emanating evil light. Around Him forming a pentagram you will find His dark servants Lucifer, Pan, Baphomet, Yama and Kekripukki sulking.

For Satan to be able to hear your prayer you need to touch Him and one of His servants at the same time.

Among the ones praying Satan picks five happy ones to be His new servants and they will be rewarded handsomely.

The first part of the ritual ends at 02.00 after which the congregation continues the worship by lifting up their hands.

Satan answers all prayers through light so keep your eyes open.

For satan’s sake <3 

If this sounds slightly satanish remember that this was Halloween time.

However, the bar did get several messages from people who were worried about the subject matter and we also got a visit from the local youth pastor. It’s nice to know we are being looked after.

 

 

Here’s a few photos from the main newspaper in Lapland Lapin Kansa who wrote their main culture section article about the club – with no mention of Satan.

 

 

Photos: Pekka Aho.

 

Performing arts and new city culture (club mix), pt. 5

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Carnival in Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2005

Samba floats are floating across the city. In the middle of Rio’s business district there’s a tall black man walking with a suit on. Or actually, when you look closer you’ll notice he only has a jacket, a golden thong – and a briefcase.

When walking on the Ipanema Beach I meet an about-70-year-old transvestite who is taking a stroll in pink bikinis with a three feet long dildo he’s pulling behind him in a small carriage. On a normal day Brazilian machos would punch him in the face but now everyone is greeting him with a smile.

The carnival in Rio is the biggest party on Earth. The themes on the samba floats often refer to current political subjects and religion is in the very heart of the carnival. At the same time the carnival is also totally secular. Spiritual and secular don’t cancel each other out during carnival time.

Good party doesn’t always have to be especially interesting. The biggest party on the planet works for me, too.

This was the final part in an article first published in Finnish magazine ‘Esitys’ (Performance) in their 2/2012 edition.

 

 

 

 

Graphic design for a contemporary music theatre piece ‘Soulsports’ combining contact improvisation and Afro-Brazilian capoeira. Graphic design by Marko Mäkinen.

Performing arts and new city culture (club mix), pt. 4

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Centre Culturel Jean-Houdremont, La Corneuve, Paris, 2007

We are working as an artist-in-residency in a cultural center in a suburb of mostly black and middle-eastern residents in Paris with the contemporary dance company Rialto Fabrik Nomade. The center has been fronted by armed guards for years and the residents of the suburb haven’t all been exactly welcome. Now the policy has changed and the center tries to involve the people living in the area.

As part of the residency we organize performances for both kids and adults, performances on the streets, workshops and a club.

It’s not allowed to serve alcohol at the club and hardly any young people from the area attend. The crowd is comprised mostly of Muslim mothers with their children. The space for the club is a huge performance space that reminds me of some of warehouse parties of old. There’s a big screen in the front part of the space and about 100 pillows scattered all over, left there by the workshop for the children. The company photographer Guy Thouvignon projects amazing black and white photos on the screen.

The crowd doesn’t warm up to the soul that I’m playing and I change to rai. The women get wild and the children start throwing the pillows all over the place with the aid of the dancers of the company.

We end the club with a performance where I’m serving beats from the soundsystem as the singer of the company Hassounia improvises melismatic melodies and the choreographer of the company William improvises a dance with a huge industrial ladder.

Clubs are tightly connected with different musical genres. These musical genres are made of vast amounts of history. Hip hop for one has its own visual, musical and oral codes that make it instantly recognizable. While doing clubs you can of course deviate from all the codes but all that wealth of history is something you can use to strongly connect to the crowd.

During last five years in Finland various cultural organizations have started using the word club in connection with various events. Often these events don’t attract wider audience base and one of the most potent aspects of clubs remain untapped. Clubs are a huge possibility to combine different crowds and also reach those who are not that interested in art for its own sake.

Artists have a tendency to do clubs that are way over the top artistic and these clubs rarely have a long battery life. In contrast, if the clubs get too similar to commercial clubs they are rarely very interesting artistically – or otherwise.

Using genre codes in organizing clubs give a chance to widen the audience base. This is not cold-hearted marketing but it is a part of new urban knowledge and new kind of cultural civilization that is composed of much more than knowledge of traditional high art of western upper classes.

Clubs are new city culture at its best.

This is the 4th part of the text. We’ll finish the set by going to the carnival.

 

 

 

 

In La Corneuve. Photo: Guy Thouvignon.

Performing arts and new city culture (club mix), pt. 3

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Never Grow Old, Oulu (FIN), Winter 2011, Club for the cultural magazine Kaltio

British rapper, writer and poet The Leano is a special guest at a club that I’m organizing in co-operation with Kaltio magazine based in Oulu in Northern Finland. I’m interviewing The Leano about the circumstances surrounding performing arts in London now that the British government cuts the funding for culture harshly. This especially affects those working at the grass roots level.

As we are about to end the interview he suggests a freestyle session. He asks people to show him any objects that they might find in their pockets and proceeds to improvise a long and absurd rap about the objects with the dj providing the beats.

The rap joins all the very different people happening to be in the bar. When the session ends, everybody’s left stunned, both the bachelor party from Scotland that just happened to be there and the artists and rappers from Oulu who came specifically for the interview.

Anything you can try in a theatre you can try at a club but the circumstances are different. As a performer you are better off not planning too much beforehand ’cause in a club there’s always so much already there you can use.

Clubs are a cornucopia of impulses ready to be used as a material for interaction. This goes for both djing and performing. The clubs need to be marketed and publicized so that people know something is happening and this calls for formulating beforehand what is going to happen. However, in the moment of djing or performing you have to be willing to throw away your plans and use what the universe is sending your way.

If the club has been marketed as a Balkan club it might be a good idea to play some Balkan music. I rarely focus on just one musical style. Crossing the borders interests me and this goes for the music as well. Limiting your club to strictly one style is also a commercial suicide anywhere in Finland outside Helsinki. How many hipsters specialising wholly on Dutch soul from the Autumn 1962 do you think you can find in Rovaniemi?

As a dj I usually build the dramaturgy of the evening so that it moves from the more laid-back grooves of the early evening into tighter stuff when to night gets rougher. This is how it works with most of the djs.

At the moment one of my most toured clubs has been Boogalumbia! At Boogalumbia! I play organic rhythms at the start of the evening in the form of Brazilian funk, quality soul from vinyl and new dancefloor jazz and later move on to new electronic styles. At the moment Argentinian nueva cumbia seems to spin a lot on the turntable.

Clubs change adjusting to people, place, bar and situation. Dj needs to know how to read the crowd. A good dj uses a selection of insights and techniques and goes with the flow. A good dj is a good improviser.

This is the 3rd part of the text. Next part goes to Paris.

Check out The Leano’s blog with photos, videos and other stuff here.

 

 

 

 

This poster has nothing to do with the text. I have just been wanting to post it here and now needed a photo. Actually this is work by cartoon artist Ville Ranta. In addition to being a great cartoonist, he is a long-time contributor for Kaltio zine and has also been a special guest at a discussion in one of the previous Kaltio clubs, too so actually I lied.

Click to open it in a bigger window.

 

Performing arts and new city culture (club mix) pt. 2

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Never Grow Old, Oulu (FIN), Winter 2006

French choreographer William Petit begins his performance in a small bar in Oulu in Northern Finland by lighting 100 tea candles, putting a chocolate into his mouth and kissing the first stranger that he meets. Two hours later the whole barful of rockers, hipsters and hippies are doing contemporary dance moves in t-shirts in freezing cold on the street outside the bar. Only a few of them have I ever seen in the city theatre or watching contemporary dance in the cultural center near by.

Audience participation has always been a central part of clubbing. It stems from the custom that djs happen to play music that people usually dance to. I started doing clubs at about the same time as I started my artistic work – about 10 years ago now – and they combined naturally. Interaction with people has always interested me in art and clubs presented an easy framework to play with it.

Clubs usually happen in restaurants and bars and these function according to commercial laws. It’s simple: If people don’t show up, the clubs end. It’s cruel, but sometimes also strangely liberating if you compare it with the chaos of varying views present in general discussion regarding art and its funding.

And on the other hand, if the clubs attract people, the bars give you a hall pass. This grants one a perfect starting point to try out interactive performances, games and experimental social interactions. If they work, you don’t have to justify them theoretically. And you don’t have to send grant applications to bars, either.

This is the 2nd part of the text. Next part discusses a British rapper in a bar in Northern Finland.

 

 

 

 

The club mentioned above happened while we were in the process of finalizing a contemporary dance piece ‘North Land – nomade cabaret’ at the culture center Valve. Lot of the people who saw William at the club also came to see the show.

Dancers (from the left) Linda Priha, Pirjo Yli-Maunula, me and Jouni Järvenpää. Chor. was by William.

Photo: Mika Kamula

 

Performing arts and new city culture (club mix)

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

This article was first published in Finnish magazine ‘Esitys’ (Performance) in their 2/2012 edition.

Dynamo, Turku (FIN), Summer 2011

Experience engineer Pekko Koskinen is stroking a glittering twentysomething club babe with a feather, shouts primally at the same time and prepares to do magic with bubble plastic.

In another corner of the space there are already new customers getting ready for their own Sensory Cocktail. On the danceloor there’s tight electrofunk blasting away and in the ceiling there sways an installation of about a million balloons and the dancers are pushing it from one to another.

In the heat of the midsummer the dancers are being cooled by the ice queen Pirjo Yli-Maunula and in a yet another corner of the space there are experience engineers from Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen and all over Finland working hard.

Experience Park Turku 2011 Opening Club organized in co-operation with The Lost City Inc. was the best party I’ve done during my ten years of organizing clubs. The upstairs of Dynamo Club was as full as possible all the way till four in the morning. In that opening club artistically interesting experiments combined with a hot as hell dance party. The club attracted both the club audience looking for a fun party and those searching for new experiences.

The celebration was shared by those who just wished to dance a while to tight club beats, by those who wanted to have a drink, watch the madness for a moment and then continue their journey into the night, and also those who wanted everything: dance, drink themselves to a happier state, enjoy the lights and visualisations, meet new people and try something that you couldn’t try anywhere else ever again.

The mutual celebration was born out of very different people sharing the same space with all on their own terms. One frequent customer of Dynamo’s said that for years he hasn’t seen anything this mental in Dynamo.

Contemporary art world has throughout my professional artistic ’career’ discussed a lot how the audiences have been split into smaller and smaller subgroups and oh my how it is so difficult to find an audience because of this evolution.

I don’t think it’s any more difficult to find an audience now as it was during when Shakespeare was alive or when the Greek theatre was born. People are different and interested in different things. During the new rise of interactive art the audience has walked into the limelight once again and the artists have realized that audience is not a faceless mass but a diversity.

This is the first part of the text. I will post the remaining four parts here in the coming weeks. In the final parts there’re recollections from clubs and parties from various places ranging from Oulu (FIN) to Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Tomi ‘The Witness’ Hurskainen.

 

Moodswings Premiere!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

We premiered a new club concept called Moodswings last Saturday at Café Kauppayhtiö in Rovaniemi, Finland. The new club is done in co-operation with Rovaniemi-based media artist Aku Meriläinen aka VJ Merrylaeinen.

For those not familiar with Kauppayhtiö: It’s a two-storey club in the center of Rovaniemi which is the capital of Lapland in Finland. So we are at the Arctic Circle. We did the club in the bassment which is the space meant for some deeper clubbing.

Moodswings combines two totally different ends of the sound spectrum – organic soul and new bass culture. In addition, every club night has its own unique visuals with new ways to interact with them.

The night was as fine as it gets. The evening opened gently with people trying out the interactive visual set and won some strange prices.

The instructions for the visuals were as follows:

There are four candles at the altar.
By lighting and smothering the candles you can contact the goddesses.
They will announce themselves on the night sky.



If you are especially in favor, you will be rewarded. The goddesses have let the oracles know that during the night they will give rewards four times.

Don’t worry, this is a very practical religion. The signs of favor are very clear.

The visual system included seven different-sized mirror balls that the audience could play with with the aid of those four candles. An amazing thing, really.

As the night got deeper the place got packed and was a blast. Couldn’t have imagined for a finer launch for the club!

The beautiful combination of new media art and contemporary club culture at the premiere really refreshed my thoughts on developing clubs as an art form. During an era when new city culture is really taking to the streets and various art forms are getting more and more social and collaborative clubs fit in like a glove. They present an easy framework where it’s possible to try out new things in a fun, easily accessible and socially open setting.

I’m posting the first photo of the night here and there’s some video coming up shortly, too.

The next Moodswings will happen sometime during next Fall with all new tricks.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Jouni Porsanger.

 

 

 

 

And here’s a shot of Aku’s visual imagery.

 

 

 

 

Here’s great graphic art for the poster by Marko Mäkinen.

You can click on the images to open them in a theatre.

Here‘s some sounds as a Spotify playlist to wrap it all up. Be seeing ya.

SISURAJA

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

 

A few photos from a club 10 years back called Sisuraja (‘The border of courage’ freely translated).

In the photos (from the left) Hanna Onjukka, Katja Mustonen, Pia Lindy, Jaap Klevering and Satu Herrala. You can click on the photos to open them in a theatre.

If my memory doesn’t fail me the photographer is Marko Kokkonen. The club happened in the now-demolished Rock Club Kerubi in Joensuu, Finland.

Sisuraja happened once every month first in Kerubi and later in the Theatre Restaurant of Joensuu City Theatre.

There were three performances every night with several DJs. When we transferred to Theatre Restaurant we actually did the club in two floors there. I’ve been wondering however did we manage to pull it off but we did have a small but amazing working group organizing it all and support from the Outokumpu dance education program.

Over 200 artists performed at the club during its three-year run. Every night we had a performance from amateur, student and professional artists. The dance music styles ranged so far and wide that it would be totally pointless trying to list them here. Let’s just sum it up by saying that I definitely enjoyed some of the drum ‘n’ bass sessions that we had and that Sisuraja is to this day the only club where I’ve heard Sibelius played to a dancing crowd.

UPDATE: Kerubi is up and running again after some years in a different location. Big up for the new space!

Serial Suicider Demo #1

Monday, May 18th, 2009

A clip about something still very much in process. Full post and the video clip in the Finnish version of this page.

Time to open up?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

A post about the Finnish artist grant system. Full post in the Finnish version of the page.