Goodbye Talking Head, hello Art Prison

Jani took a selfie of us during the last Kiasma performance of Talking Head in 30th of May

Jani took a selfie of us during the last Kiasma performance on 30th of May

Thank you everybody in the audience, in the team and in Kiasma Theatre!

Special thanks to The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation for a kind permission to use Mapplethorpe photographs in the performance.

Talking Head shut his mouth last Saturday after two hour long marathon performance. Dramaturge Jani Manninen, who worked in Talking Head as an attendant with Pia Karaspuro in 2001, was the special guest of the show. With Helena Ryti he made me go through some excercises while I was talking, like reacting to the selfie session and Helena taking off my shoes suddenly. The effect of the marathon can be seen in my ogling eyes. My head didn’t empty in two hours but during the last 30 minutes there started to be more moments of no thoughts at all. Short moments. I felt the exhaustion only after finishing. Thank the lord there was some sparkling wine and a table booked for the team in restaurant Kosmos!

Helena said that during the performance period I kept thinking about thinking but I never reached a proper summary. Here it is, shortly: To me the essence of thinking is active thinking, weighing different viewpoints and coming up with a suggestion, opinion, conclusion or a vision. It is very close to listening, paying attention to a chosen topic in one’s mind. After eight shows and three days in a live video installation I can say that there was only a little active thinking going on. Instead my head was filled with memories, anecdotes, observations from the surroundings and the audiences, notes of my general feelings and bodily sensations. Lots of like – don’t like judgements. Active thinking was not my target to start with – but I missed it. I kept on saying “this is not real thinking, I’m just filling the empty space between us”.

Another observation was visually coded thinking. My mind is filled with mental images that contain much more information than the actual image. Such an image can be created in a split second but when you return to it, decode it and verbalise it, it may turn into a long, long speech with several viewpoints, conclusions, visions and also emotions.

The live video installation Face-to-face with Talking Head was a succesfull test in developing the concept. I had random museum visitors facing me and also people coming to see the installation in particular. Even though it wasn’t meant to be a conversation, facing someone in close range was always a conversation on some level, even at times when the person facing me didn’t want to talk. I felt an exhange of energy, exhange of mutual acceptance and sometimes exhange of thoughts. Some people turned the situation into a normal conversation. It was a bit challenging for me as it is difficult to verbalise your every thought and have a conversation at the same time, but it was nice, too. There’s so much more to human (and non-human) communication than words. The space is certainly not empty between us. In the installation setting it was just more evident than when facing a crowd in the normal performance.


Face-to-face with Talking Head in the foyer, photo by Pirje Mykkänen / Kansallisgalleria


Face-to-face with Talking Head on stage, photo by Pirje Mykkänen / Kansallisgalleria


The journey of Talking Head will continue later on but right now there’s something else in the horizon. I will spend four days in Reality Research Centre’s Art Prison next week. It’s like an austere residence with rules of a prison. There will be altogether 27 artists imprisoned during two week’s time. According to their own wishes, each artist stays in for a day, three days or a whole week and gets the kind of treatment they think they need to concentrate on what they really want to concentrate on. Art Prison is a sanctuary for creating and develping those gentle dreams for which no-one has enough time in the hectic times we live in. In my case it is a neglected novel script I’ve been writing ever since October 2013.

Haastattelu Nyt-liitteen nettisivuilla 1.6.

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