I am just finishing teaching for the year. Besides trying out new readings of classics on the Philosophy of Art for Post-Contemporary Artists course, I learned a lot on my Learning from Middle East course, where Elham Rahmati as my assistant helped to curate a series of talks with Issa Touma, Jinoos Taghizadeh, Salima Hashmi, Dzamil Kamanger and Kalle Hamm. On my course on intersectional theory, which I called Positions, I had great guests as well from Koko Hubara to Susani Mahadura and Yagmur Özberkan, Antu Sorainen, Riikka Perälä, Jenny Kaasinen-Wickman, Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, Gisele Costa, Sonya Lindfors, Katriina Haikala and Pauliina Feodoroff, and I felt that there is a whole scene in Helsinki which is brilliantly able to mix theory with practice in these issues. I also organized talks at my program also by e.g. Sezgin Boynik and Charlene Teters, and I feel that it has been a good cocktail at least for myself. I supervised interesting works on masks, decolonializing poetry, selfies and many other issues, and again, after a fabulous year, I cannot but say how good education it is to teach in an MA programme.
Take a look at our fresh journal Popular Inquiry: The Journal of Aesthetics of Kitsch, Camp and Mass Culture. Vol 1 (fall 2017) is already bit by bit followed by Vol 2. I am the editor in chief with Jozef Kovalcik. We also have a great board. We publish everything (and some extras) on our easy to read (above; contains PDFs as links), then Spring and Fall issues as PDFs on our archive webpage. Please submit manuscripts!
The Finnish Society for Aesthetics is organizining the 2018 pre conference of the International Association for Aesthetics July 5-7. Working group: me, Petteri Enroth, Harri Mäcklin and Sanna Lehtinen. The CFP is already gone, but we have great keynotes coming up by e.g. Yuriko Saito, Jack Halberstam, Elisabetta di Stefano and Andrew Light. The host will be my home department, Aalto University’s Department of Art (which is a part of Aalto ARTS). (Call for Papers.)
With theater director Davide Giovanzana we had our first test lecture performance of “We know who you are fucker!” in the Swedish Theater Academy of Helsinki in February – and it worked! The performance touches upon images which raise imagionation about violence. We will hit Riga Performance Festival in mid June. (Exact date for the performance soon announced.)
I am soon publishing with Zoltan Somhegyi a small book on ruins and architectural decay, called Learning from Decay, via Peter Lang. On the same topic I am also cooking together an article about Venice as a Ruin for Ruins, Monuments and Memorials, which will be edited by Jeanette Bicknell, Jennifer Judkins and Karolyn Korsmeyer for Routledge. For the first ever issue of the Aesthetica Universalis (early 2018) I have a text coming out on post-colonial kitsch philosophy (“Contemporary Kitsch”). And with Kevin Tavin and Mira Kallio-Tavin we are editing for Palgrave MacMillan a book on disgusting (or excessive) art and art education (Art, Excess, and Education: Historical and Discursive Contexts, estimate 2019 Spring).
Besides organizing sessions with panel discussions and visitors on our Stop Hatred Now 2018 festival (11-14.5), I gave a speech (11.5) on what it means to be a ‘human being’, or why I feel uncomfortable with the concept. I concentrated on discussing the problematic metaphysics of it, the way it for me sounds immediately too much like a certain ethnic, gendered and class-driven being when you just say it. I produced also Charlene Teter‘s visit to Helsinki, backed up by the Department of Art at Aalto University. She gave a great speech on Native American art and problems 12.5 (pic above).
I gave a presentation on Medieval Indian aesthetic theory (the rasa of Bharata and Abhinavagupta) in a Conference on Sanskrit Texts (invitation by the Indian Embassy), together with a wide variety of Sanskrit scholars (who did not lynch me although my interpretation is far from exegetic), like Måns Broo, Sharon Ben-Dor, Hanna Mannila and Mikko Viitamäki. (Tomorrow hearing my old teacher Virpi Hämeenanttila giving a lecture too.) This was a good experience, and my article “The Rasa Industry: Notes on Classical Indian Aesthetics and the Contemporary Aesthetics of Popular Culture” will see the daylight hopefully in 2019.
Had an opportunity to interview the great Jack Halberstam, and we published the interview in Popular Inquiry. “Low Theory and Crazy White Men: An Interview with Jack Halberstam.” Popular Inquiry, Vol 2, Spring 2018, 2-9.
I was in Burtnieki Northern Latvia teaching visual culture in a one-day workshop (11 Jan 2018) where Linda Krumina taught coreography, Valts Mikkelson curation and Inta Balode a variety of other issues. We spent a great day with our lovely hosts, workers and clients of social services. (Pic: Linda Krumina. Me and Valts playing table hockey.)
Appropriation has lately been an interesting object of discussion. My intuition is that the topic should be studied more on a meta-level. For example the highbrow art system, I think, is quintessentially appropriative. See my article “Rock Me Amadeus: Aesthetics and the Highbrow Appropriation of Lowbrow” in Zoltan Somhegyi (ed), Yearbook of the International Association for Aesthetics. Sharjah: IAA, 2017. 186-196.
I visited Banská Bystrica together with Jozef Kovalcik who I write articles with. We also edit together Popular Inquiry. Had a great stay enjoying the good food and the atmosphere in this small town.
Blogged on Bengaluru and Mumbai, two incredible cities I visited in late November 2017 – the first following a Cumulus conference (the association for art and design universities) and the second one because I knew about its vibrant art scene.
I gave a speech in the 30 years anniversary of the Finnish image copyright association (Kuvasto) on Tuesday October 5. The party was nice and included a beautiful show by Pink Twins. I talked about the way singular images become weak in the enormous repetition of visual culture these days.
We performed Writing Dancing (Ismo Dance Company) in Jyväskylä (the festival Tanssin aika) September 22. Interesting to see how the piece functions now. We have already had 6 performances in Helsinki, one in Turku, then we have visited the Leipzig and Dresden Off-Europa dance festivals… and two years have passed. Looking forward to Jyväskylä!
September 14: We had a great discussion about Anssi Pulkkinen’s Street View (Reassembled) at Habitare with Anssi, Hanna Johansson, Martha Jessen, Annukka Vähäsöyrinki and Aleksi Malmberg.
The book on it is also out, and I wrote an article in it. Home Re-assembled: On Art, Destruction & Belonging is published by Jap Sam Books (Rotterdam) and it is edited by Aleksi Malmberg and Annukka Vähäsöyrinki.
Opened Sept 7 Hilda Kozari’s Vantaa Art Museum exhibition Vantaa Black Sense. A great session with jazz and olfactory artworks! (Pic below.)
September 1-2 I gave a talk on the future of museums at Mériam Korichi’s event Night of Philosophy 2 at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki (here’s the PDF for the whole night, I was the last one at 6:30: incredibly there were still people around listening to me).
Plir 2 just came out. I edited it with writer Malin Kivelä (who was the main editor). Producer: Ona Ukkola. Layout: Ida-Maria Wikström. The second issue of the bilingual, anti-racist (Swedish, Finnish) and political journal (first issue edited ny Malin and Stella Parland) is written in countless languages, including English, French, Dari, etc. The theme is happiness. Thank you for the funding: Konstsamfundet and Svenska Kulturfonden. The Happiness issue includes work by e.g. Cia Rinne, Martina Miño Perez, David Muoz, Malin Kivelä, Max Ryynänen and many others.
Blogged on my trip to New York, New Jersey and Philadalphia.
The ViCCA program took part in Sonya Lindfors’s event STOP HATRED NOW, where we (together with e.g. Interkult & Zodiac) worked together against inequality and glass ceilings in the art world – and tried to find ways of making them less impactful. Vidha Saumya, Noura Salem, Vanessa Kowalski and Ziva Kleindienst gave together with the enfant terrible of the Tallinn art scene, Anders Härm, a great panel discussion on glass ceilings. I gave a lecture as Giacomo Casanova (see below), explaining how the Western concept of art is ethnic Central European culture, with deep roots in problematic traditions like misogyny and colonialism. Sonya was a great host and the event featured all kinds of discussions and performances, highlights being e.g. Ruskeat Tytöt -klubi (Brown Girls club) and Sonya’s and Maryam Abdulkarim’s pedagogical discussion about racialization and other problematic concepts.
(Pic Antti Ikonen)
Blogged on my latest trip to Bratislava.
Blogged on the Nordic Summer University circle Appearances of the Political, which I have been coordinating with Danish philosopher Carsten Friberg, and our Winter Session Feb 24-26 in Wroclaw Poland.
April 11 I visited Jyväskylä with art critic Harri Mäcklin, both as representatives of the Finnish Society of Aesthetics, to organize a one-day seminar together with Mutkun Tutkijat, the Jyväskylä art researchers – on disgust (ällötys). I talked about Chopin’s heart, dismemberment, disgusting movies and thinkers / artists like Mario Perniola and David Cronenberg. Harri hosted the show, and then Susanne Ylönen and Heidi Kosonen talked about taboo, death, disgust and kitsch. In the panel discussion in the end I enjoyed listening to Henna-Riikka Peltola, Matti Itkonen, Akseli Hiltunen, Anna Helle, Hannele Harjunen and Harri (as the secretary of the Society; I am the chair). Great chat. Fun day. The seminar ended with Akseli Hiltunen’s band and fried grasshoppers, including e.g. some of my cooking’s like khachapuri.
March 24 slowly finishing the teaching for 2016-2017. I have had a load of fun courses, like Philosophy of Art for Post-Contemporary Artists, Literary Spaces, Authorship & Agency (both in ViCCA and in the Riga Academy of Culture) – and I even managed to enjoy my duty to teach Academic Skills. Has been also fun to read students plans and works for the thesis seminar, like always. This year I had some truly great visitors, including Mira Kallio-Tavin, David Muoz, Koko Hubara, Amkelwa Mbekeni, Mikko Kapanen and Richard Shusterman.
March 21 I gave a speech entitled “Hegel’s Pipe: Magritte, memes and weak thinking” in Dank Contemporarinites (on post internet art). Org. Dept of Art at Aalto University / Juuso Tervo. Besided the talk I participated in 2 panel discussions. Video here.
The Nordic Summer University study circle Appearances of the Political visited The University of Wroclaw in Poland February 24-26 together with 3 other circles of the NSU. (CfP here.) The circle, which I have been running with Danish philosopher Carsten Friberg (now actually quitting, Carsten is continuing with someone else) has been succesfull and fun to direct. In Wroclaw we had 18 participants from Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Italy, Finland and Denmark. The theme of the winter seminar was Aesthetics, Politics and Material Culture. We launched the circle in Riga February 22-23, 2016 and had approximately 25 participants from e.g. Scandinavia, the Baltics, England and Italy. In Orivesi, July 24-30, the circle met for the second time, and Raine Vasques took up my role as I was organizing the framework for the whole summer session where all 8 circles come together. Check our blog for more information.
Teaching visit: Academy of Culture in Riga. Fixed Erasmus deal between programs and taught great, lovely, witty students. The Riga art world is very intellectual! The course? Authorship & Agency: learning about what is an author and what there is to learn from our artistic and philosophical agencies. MA students in film, coreography and theatre directing.
Blogged about Abhinavagupta, aesthetic experience and ‘Western philosophy’.
I visited Pori Art Museum as Giacomo Casanova in October 19, and talked about the city hall of the town.
(Photo: Anna Jensen and Ideoita Kaupunki.)
I was keynote in Latvia / Riga, Sept 29. “Rock me Amadeus. On the highbrow appropriation of lowbrow culture,” in Fin-de-siecle Popular Culture in the Baltics, Sept 29 – Oct 1, org. by the Institute of Folklore of the University of Latvia (site: National Library of Latvia, Riga). Great conference – a lot of fresh ideas!
Blogged about my visit to Gdansk (with the Nordic Summer University board and the coordinators of the NSU circles).
Toured with the performance Writing Dancing (see above), together with coreographer Ismo-Pekka Heikinheimo and dancer Tanja Illukka: Leipzig and Dresden Sept 20 and 22. Just a got a great review in Leipzig (see below).
Fall 2016 started. About 30 new students from around the world (Korea, China, Iran, Canada, GB, Sweden, etc.) in the major I am running. Started teaching, e.g. Authorship & Agency, Philosophy of for Post-Contemporary Artists and the Thesis Seminar of ViCCA.
Blogging on Al-Ghazali’s Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God
Blogging on Stacy Hardy’s 52 Niggers.
Blogging on the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art Medzilaborce.
July 24-31, i organized, together with Disa Kamula, Davide Giovanzana and Arja Hietanen the summer session of the Nordic Summer University. There were approximately 130 guests, including the keynotes Robert Pfaller and Elisabeth Povinelli. The summer session of NSU brought together the 8 active study circles of the NSU, including my own, which I run together with Carsten Friberg, i.e. Appearances of the Political (which traveled to Riga Feb 2016, and which will probably land in Poland Feb 2017). As I was too involved with infra structure during this summer session, Raine Vasquez took my role in running the activities of the circle with Carsten Friberg.
Blogging on the Berlin Biennale.
I’ve been starting a blog on literature, but I realize already that it is becoming quite political. Latest post on Tabucchi.
Ukranian journalist Anna Filippova, who’s running the journalist project Quest for Truth, interviewed me about Venice. Curious to see where we end up with this.
Did some writing teaching for SHIFT (Finnish Art Agency). A pleasant experience, sparring (nice and good) artists to write their artist statements. The agency seems to be well-working and cool, but I was guessing it: Laura Köönikkä, who runs it, has always had the guts to do things in an interesting way and Daria Zaitsev who works there is very good in everything she does.
Been lately blogging on books, let’s see where this leads me.
May 13 Visited as a commentator when Sinem Kayacan gave a great talk about artistic research and academic writing in the ‘breakfast well’ of Kone Foundation.
May 10 Talk in Pori – as Giacomo Casanova (performance) – on the byzantine and Venetians echoes in the architecture of the town. A part of the exhibition Ideoita Pori. (Photo Anna Jensen.)
May 9 Just finished this years teaching. I have had a great year, great students and inspiring visitors (Sonya Lindfors, Sezgin Boynik, Pia Sivenius, Mira Kallio-Tavin, Juuso Tervo, Corinna Casi) on my courses, which have ranged from Philosophy of Art for Post-Contemporary Artists to a course on the professional identity of today’s artist, i.e. Authorship and Agency. The Studio course will still visit Tallinn, Anders Härm and EKKM, and there’s a last meeting of the MA thesis seminar, but otherwise it is time to plan, read and write, without forgetting some of the last administrational issues to take care of before summer.
May 6-7 Visited EKKM in Tallinn with the Words and Spaces Studio course and blogged about it.
April 10, the last day of Loikka dance festival, was the day of the public presentation of the results for the Nordic dance film competition 60secondsdance, where I had the honor of being in the jury. Saw a lot of great dance film and realized I should write an essay of this right now vibrant genre of film and dance.
April 9 I organized, together with Raine Vasquez, the Spring Seminar of the Finnish Society for Aesthetics. Our partner in crime was Third Space Gallery Helsinki, which I consider to be the most interesting gallery in the city. Consensus / Dissensus had four speakers (Raine, Sezgin Boynik, Oleksandra Sushchenko and Scott Elliott) and four commentators (me, Ahmed Al-Nawas, Sanna Lehtinen and Pajari Räsänen). We cooked a mix of Mexican, Georgian and Ugandan food for the participants and the audience, and filled the small gallery with nice chat for a day.
March 5, 2016 Opponent of Susanne Ylönen’s PhD defense in Art Education at University of Jyväskylä. Great work, fun party – and new interesting colleagues who’s work I will follow.
February/March 2016. The Dreams, fantasies (Unelmat, fantasiat; 2016/1) special issue of the Finnish performance journal Esitys, edited by me with the pseudonyme Usva Vinttilä, came out (in Finnish). Besides an intro on Martin Luther King’s classical I have a dream speech I wrote the journal’s classical Symposion dialogue, which usually contains discussion by performance arts professionals, but which now was a fantasy where I (as Usva Vinttilä) discuss with Jacques Ranciere, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Camille Paglia. I also published two translations, one a shortened version of Mateusz Salwa’s article “The Garden as a Performance (Estetika. The Central-European Journal of Aesthetics, 2014/1) and another by Davide Giovanzana on Jean Genet’s The Balcony and the colonialization of imagination (“Mielikuvituksen kolonialisaatio”). I got a load of fascinating contributions also by Lauri Lehtinen, Koko Hubara, Sonya Lindfors, Suna Vuori, Janne Saarakkala, Pilvi Porkola and Louna-Tuuli Luukka.
February 22-23, 2016 We had our first session of the study circle Appearances of the Political in Riga, a circle which we will with Carsten Friberg run for 3 years in 6 cities. We had about 15 intensive participants and about 20-25 people per session studying the relationship of aesthetics and politics. Many great talks and fun experimentation, loads of pleasant dialogues both in the ‘classroom’ and in the evening events. We were enchantingly hosted by the Theology Dept. of the University of Latvia. The theme of the first session (next Orivesi, then probably St. Petersburg) was Identifying the Political. Appearances of the Political is a Nordic Summer University project.
January 6-9, 2016 visited the Angewandte in Vienna (University of Applied Arts). Looking forward to future collaborations!
November 24-28, 2015 visited Bratislava fixing cooperation between Finnish Society for Aesthetics and the Slovak Association for Aesthetics.
November 11/13/14/16/20/21, 2015 I performed in Writing dancing, a dance piece with me writing on stage with a PC (text visible on the wall). The performance features a philosopher who writes (his (my) text is visible on the wall) and a dancer (Tanja Illukka). Coreography: Ismo-Pekka Heikinheimo. Writing Dancing was performed in Helsinki Nov 11/13/14/16/20/21 at LéSPACE. (Writing Dancing visited the Barker Theater in Turku Dec 9.)
October 16, 2015 Visited Reality Research Center’s theatre performance DADA 99 in Riihimäki City Theatre. My topic – talks framed by DADA performances – was ‘beauty’.
August 16-18, 2015 I gave three morning lecturesin Saldus (Latvia) as I was teaching together with Elina Gaitjukevitca, Moa Matilda Salin, Sesselja Magnusdottir and Luciana Achugar. (Coordinator / producer for the event: Inta Balode.) Great workshop – I learned a lot myself – and fun mini-festival.
Pic: Elena Angelova
July 18-25, 2015 I was assisting Epp Annus to coordinate a study circle called Redistributions of the Sensible (this time at least partly on Ranciere), which was a part of the long term study circle Heterologies of the Everyday, funded by the Nordic Summer University. The summer school took place in Druskininkai, Lithuania, a spa resort full of history. Ben Highmore, who was absolutely inspiring, sat – besides his keynote – in our circle commenting on our papers.
June 26-28, 2015 I visited the conference Revisions of Modern Aesthetics in Belgrade, Serbia and presented a paper written together with Jozef Kovalcik. We have for 3 years worked on a paper on the institutional margins of aesthetics and this was the second public presentation of the idea. The conference was organized by the International Association for Aesthetics so I took as well part in the meeting of the board (where I represent Finland). First time in Serbia was great, and the conference was well organized.
May 27-29, 2015 I had a fun weekend working in the Jury for the Köler Prize of contemporary art at EKKM, Tallinn Estonia, together with Annie Fletcher, Karin Laansoo, Solvita Krese and Kestutis Kuizinas. I learned a lot from the more experienced jury members (well, especially Annie Fletcher was superb!), and I learned to know some new great artists (who I definitely will be having contact with).
May 18-19, 2015, I helped around (as the Chair of the Finnish Society for Aesthetics) in the Finnish-Russian Conference on Problems of Contemporary Aesthetics, Culture and Art, i.e. Moisei Kagan’s Aesthetics and the Late/Post-Soviet Culture. This happened in Helsinki, at Aleksanteri Institute of Helsinki University. The main organizers were Aleksanteri Institute and Kimmo Sarje. The Society was just backing up this fresh initiative by taking part and fixing some snacks…! It was interesting to hear about the history of Soviet Aesthetics and to meet Russian aestheticians.
May 10-13, 2015 I visited the Philosophy Department of the University of Warsaw and gave 2 talks about aesthetics. I a) talked about the institutional margins of aesthetics (a paper I am working on with Jozef Kovalcik, “Margins of Modern Aesthetics”) and b) about the profession of artists as a way to discuss what is art (“New Laokoon”). I got the invitation from my colleague Adam Andrzejewski and had a great time with the cream of Warsaw aesthetics.
May 5, 2015 I visited Oblivia, a Helsinki-based performance group run by Annika Tudeer. They invited me to come and have a chat with them. The group is right now working on a performance that is connected to popular culture and I am going to watch / chat with them at Eskus Helsinki. I have seen many Oblivia pieces and I have really enjoyed some of the stuff, so I am really looking forward to this one.
April 27-28, 2015 in a seminar for doctoral students of Aalto ARTS at Kallio-Kuninkala in Tuusula. On the 27th Michael Taussig, our guest, showed a film and talked. As I have really gained new perspectives from his books – especially Mimesis and Alterity (1993) – I was pleased to be able to chat with him (and so, I think, were the doctoral students). On the second day of the seminar I gave together with Helena Sederholm (Professor of Art Education) a small workshop on “Failure” and “Chance”.
April 15, 2015 Public talk / debate with Kevin Tavin (Professor of Art Education at Aalto University) with the title “Eat your heart out: Art and Excess“. This was organized in the facilities of Aalto, and we had a great chat – I truly enjoyed it and got a lot of new ideas. Would like to edit a book about the way excess is done and treated in arts.
April 12, 2015 Just saw Andrius Katinas’, Veera Nevanlinna’s and Salla Salin’s Paper Piece, Zodiak Dance Theatre Helsinki, a project that I frequently visited and commented on as a (paid) mentor, or artistic satellite as the programme had it. Inspiring visual piece! And interesting role. I don’t think I was able to contribute that much, but it was truly a learning experience.
April 2015 Slowly finishing teaching for our ViCCA programme (vicca.fi) this academic year. 2014-2015 courses were Authorship and Agency, Literary Spaces, Academic Skills, Studio and Experimental Theory – and upon that MA seminar for the ones getting close to their theses – and most done in a way or another together with Harri Laakso. This year was too heavy. Too much teaching and administration. On the other hand, all the new courses we created have been a good experience. Especially the Experimental Theory course with its fresh topic Lectures (& Speeches) made me think.