Share a moment face-to-face with Talking Head

The sessions in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma are open to the public and admission is free!

Wed 27 May 12:00—12:45, 14:00—14:45 and 16:00—16:45
Thu 28 May 14:00—14:45 and 16:00—16:45
Fri 29 May 12:00—12:45, 14:00—14:45 and 16:00—16:45

Today and tomorrow we are building the participatory video installation “Face-to-face with Talking Head” in Kiasma. From Wednesday on you can choose to view the installation on the video screens in the foyer or live in the theatre—or you can participate in it. It’s easy. You just sit in a chair next to Talking Head and most likely become the target of his stream of consciousness. No need to be alarmed, I’ll treat you kindly. If you wish to attempt verbalising your own stream of consciousness, you will have the opportunity to do so. More instructions on the spot.

Besides the installation, there are two traditional performances left, Thu 28th at 19:00 (in English) and the two hour marathon performance Sat 30th 14:00—16:00 (in Finnish and in English).

Screen testing in the foyer
Screen testing in the foyer with Paula Koivunen, photo by Helena Ryti
Installation in the theatre under construction
Installation under construction in the theatre
The personel: installation guides Helena Ryti and Riikka Thitz with rather serious looking Talking Head in the middle
Installation guides Helena Ryti and Riikka Thitz with rather serious looking Talking Head in the middle

Reflecting Talking Head performance so far…

In the post-performance discussions many audience members have asked me is there any blank moments in my mind. The answer is yes, but those moments are extremely short. To me they seem long but that’s not the case in the audience. Black outs occur usually when I’m struck by an emotion. When I’m ashamed of a thought, or when something makes me laugh. Couple of times I’ve also burst into tears. Also, listening can bring a pause in the stream. By this I mean listening myself or the audience intensively.

Another observation is how overwhelmingly self-absorbed I am. While performing I don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world around my circles. The news, the politics—all gone. In one performance I managed to air an opinion of Timo Soini the Finn. Otherwise It’s just been me, me, me. Me and my memories, bodily functions and my relationship with the audience or people close to me. The stage is like a cocoon. Everybody listens what I’m thinking and follows my every move. Naturally it reinforces the egocentricity.

The performance also reveals how deeply connected we are in a hidden interactive process. Sometimes I know what the audience members I’m facing are thinking i.e. I’m verbalising their thoughts. Also the verbal feedback I get in the post-performance discussions effect the thinking in the next performance. Like the radio interview before the premiere, what the hosts of the programme had to say about the show effected me on stage that night. I felt like the hosts were directing my thinking. I was performing for them to counterblow their doubts about my sincerety in the performance—even though they were not in the audience.

Quite a few people have said they harbour so brutal, vicious thoughts—or they feel so angry—that they could never do Talking Head themselves. They tend to doubt I’m sensoring myself. They think my thoughts are too kind to be true. But, I must confess, kindness is my middle name. Of course there’s anger and resentment. But it’s never at the tip of my tongue while performing to strangers. And even to people I know. Imagine yourself in my shoes: the audience looks defenceless. Someone may question the whole show in one’s mind but no-one says nothing. They just look at you and listen to you eagerly. I’ve made incorrect blurts like “you’re black”, “you have big tits” or “you’re bald” but in the situation of performing the audience seem innocent and too vunerable to me to think anything really nasty. But, as said, as a result of these doubts I’m constantly questioning my sincerety on stage and afterwards. Perhaps it’s a good thing.