FORTHCOMING soon (a selection)
Max Ryynänen & Paco Barragan, eds, The Changing Meaning of Kitsch will be published late spring 2023 (est) by Palgrave (New York). The book includes a broad and rich introduction to the topic by Paco and me (I believe we wrote the broadest and deepest global historical introduction to kitsch and research on it), and texts by various distinguished authors like Kathleen Higgins, Gilles Lipovetsky & Jean Serroy, and Alison Rowley. Kitsch as a topic has not really been updated theoretically in decades (there are books, but they keep repeating the old story which demonizes it, although we openly love kitsch today). Well… now we do it!
Spring 2023, mine and Rami Nummi’s book on the nearly forgotten essayist Armas J. Pulla will be published by the Turku-based publisher Helmivyö. Armas J. Pulla: Suomen Umberto Econ seikkailut kirjallisuudessa, elokuvassa ja kulttuurihistoriassa [Armas J. Pulla: The Adventures in Literature, Film and Cultura History by the Umberto Eco of Finland] discusses the lifework of the author through e.g. ideas on the picaresque, Umberto Eco type of multiprofessionalism, and themes like urban research and low cultural history (low here refering to Jack Halberstam’s idea of low theory).
I will, June 2, visit through Teams/Zoom Niš (Serbia, I wish I’d be there physically, but I had to stay home), and give a plenary at the conference on Media and the Challenges of Modern Society. I will talk about the way we tend to forget the body from our thinking on digital culture.
I gave a keynote in the National Conference on Recent Advancements in IT & Computing, national here pointing to India. Sadly I was present only through Teams, and could not take a break and go out to eat dal, but there were some truly nice keynotes to listen to. My own talk was about the need to understand idea history and to engage with humanities/design to distribute and make tech successful. AI seems to bother people a lot these days… and too much they seem to reproduce old debates, which demonized / embraced uncritically old media and tech developments like radio, TV, and even hologram images. Anyway, refreshing digital visit!
I published lately some new articles. “Equipment as Art, Art as Equipment: Notes on Film, Architecture, and Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy of Culture,” which I wrote with Petteri Kummala (Contemporary Aesthetics (2023)) aims to help us rethink Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of culture, and to make use of Heidegger’s concept of the tool. “Longing for a Place Which Does Not Exist: The Importance of Kitsch in the Estonian Singing Revolution,” which I wrote with Eret Talviste (The Journal of Baltic Studies 2023/1, 1-23) is on the way kitschy music was a key cultural factor in the Estonian revolution, and the way this has not yet been realized. All and all, the text aims to gather understanding of the role of popular culture (mainly kitsch, though) as an engine in revolutions. “A New Twenties: Notes on Instagram and the Return of the Centrality of Montage and Slapstick in Contemporary Moving Image,” in Popular Inquiry 2023: 1, 27-38, is my take on the endless sea of clips which we face in social media, more than anywhere else in Instagram.
In the fall I published, with Ksenia Kaverina, a take on the philosophy of why we preserve old architecture. “Why Preserve? Questioning Central European Ethnicity, Appropriation, and Preserving Buildings; Or, Curating (In) Decay“ (Nordic Journal of Aesthetics Vol 31, No. 63 (2022/1): 26-43) is about the problems related with this topic, e.g. the whole way of thinking is really only from one cultural sphere. We also aim to further democratize the practice of architectural preservation.
In the fall, I did a tour with three book presentations in Italy November 3, 7 and 8, 2022, in Florence, Bologna and Naples. I presented my book On The Philosophy of Central European Art: A History of an Institution and its Global Competitors (2020) at the Accademia delle arti del disegno, the world’s oldest art academy, which, not coincidentally, has a key role during the formative years of the early art system. At the University of Bologna and the architecture department of Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II (DIARC) I presented my latest book Engagements with Film, Images, and Technology: Somavision (2022), with the kind support of Gaia Bindi, Stefano Marino and Aurorarosa Allison.
Helmivyö (Turku) published, September 2022, my gastronomical book Mechelinin tähtiä: Gastronomisia lastuja (Mechelin Stars: Gastronomical Essays). It includes notes on the ‘real nature’ of Italian cuisine (i.e. not only focusing on the delicious and light primos, that are internationally recognized, but also the heavy and often dull secondos), the way restaurant audiences do ethnic profiling in their consumption of ‘ethnic food’ (“is there a real Chinese chef in the kitschen?”), and many other issues. I discuss food from South India, Lithuania, Philadelphia, among many other geographical areas, and the main tenet is to play around a bit, philosophically and in a literary manner, with the genre of gastronomy, and to discuss also things that are not that nice in eating and food culture. In Finnish, this time!
Cultural Approaches to Disgust and the Visceral, which I edited with Susanne Ylönen and Heidi Kosonen, is out – and open access. It is published by Routledge (New York: 2022). The book includes articles by distinguished scholars of disgust and excess, like Carolyn Korsmeyer and Pauline Greenhill, and its topics vary from insect eating to TV series and contemporary art. Open access here.
Mine, Carsten Friberg’s and Elisabetta Di Stefano’s (eds) Aesthetic Perspectives on Culture, Politics, and Landscape was published July 2022 by Springer. The authors include (besides us) Majid Heidari, Katya Mandoki, Margus Vihalem and Mateusz Salwa. The book includes also my own article “Political Concepts as Aesthetic Concepts.”
My book Bodily Engagements with Film, Images and Technology: Somavision came out April 11. It explores the role of the body in film viewing, visual culture more broadly, artistic documentation, robotics and social media – and the rather philosophical methodology is based on pragmatism, phenomenology and Indian philosophy (rasa theory). It explores the role of the mirror cells, claims that we have a whole filmic tradition that we could call somatic film, and it includes notes on e.g. body-hacking artists and political art.
Two small texts came out late spring 2022. “Updating Artes Vulgares” is a commentary on Richard Shusterman’s Art Erotica with a group of cultural philosophers – and with an answer from the author himself (see next link, which takes you straight to the journal). Eli Kramer edited this fun written symposium for Eidos, i.e. Eidos: A Journal for Philosophy of Culture Vol 5, 2021/4: 129-132. Jerold Abrams edited the book Shusterman’s Somaesthetics: From Hip Hop Philosophy to Politics and Performance Art (Leiden: Brill, 2022), and I wrote a piece on the 1990s theory debate on rap in philosophical aesthetics (74-85).
I edited, together with Madalina Diaconu, a special issue for Popular Inquiry: The Journal of the Aesthetics of Kitsch, Camp and Mass Culture, a Festschrift for Arnold Berleant for his 90th birthday. Liber Amicorum for Arnold Berleant is Vol 10 of Popular Inquiry, 2022: 1. The authors include e.g. Katya Mandoki, Tom Leddy, John Carvalho, Emily Brady, Nathalie Blanc, Yuriko Saito, Wolfgang Welsch and Arnold himself. See the editorial, and my own article, “Well-Construed Examples: A Shy Note on Arnold Berleant’s Environmental Aesthetics” (157-162).
I published a new piece on rap in May 2022. “Living Beauty, Rethinking Rap: Revisiting Shusterman’s Philosophy of Hip Hop,” was printed in Jerold Abrams, ed, Shusterman’s Somaesthetics: From Hip Hop Philosophy to Politics and Performance Art (Leiden: Brill, 2021), 74-85 – and it discusses the novel and radical nature of Richard Shusterman’s hip hop philosophy in the early 1990s, especially his analysis of the way rap suits descriptions about postmodernist art.
My article “Kitsch” appeared in Valery Vinogradovs (ed.), Aesthetic Literacy: A book for everyone, 152-153 (Melbourne: Mont Publishing, 2022), a book with small texts on various topics of aesthetics – and a broad catering of authors from Yuriko Saito and Tom Leddy to Theodore Gracyk, Walter Mignolo and Richard Eldridge. The text is short and intended to give just a very basic idea of the aesthetics of kitsch.
Finnish philosophical quarterly (in Finnish) niin & näin published mine and Petteri Kummala’s Heidegger article on the role of the equipment/tool, and its potentials for adaptation into studies of architecture and popular culture (2021: 4, Vol 111, 25-31. (An English language version is currently being reviewed.)
Valentina Antoniol & Samir Gandesha & Stefano Marino edited a special issue with the title Contemporary Popular Culture and Social Criticism for the Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture. It features my article “Can The (Non-)Subaltern (Understand) Rap? Rap as Vernacular Critical Theory” (2021/6, 213-229). (See abstract below.)
I published the article “Is Most Marxist Art (And ‘Activism’) Actually Social Democratic? And if so, what should art (and design) universities do about it?” in Research in Arts and Education (2021: 2, 81-94), in a special issue The Creative Process: Critical Perspectives on Art, Research, and Education from Pakistan and Beyond, edited by Abdullar Qureshi and Natasha Malik. My main intuition has for long been that Marxism is a tag that people use as it sounds fancy, alternative and somehow revolutionary (which is of course right, thinking about Marx’s writings) – but that their own work is far from Marxist, and could be labelled rather social democratic.
Visiting the podcast of the Finnish Critics’ Association SARV. Petteri Enroth and Matti Tuomela interviewed me and Sini Mononen on research and critique (in Finnish only). Arvostelijapankki-podcast 1/3 Tutkimus ja kritiikki by SARV (soundcloud.com) Published 27.10.2021. We had some great discussions about e.g. the way professional art journals/mags are making a difference to newspapers, by allowing for long critiques, which are also analyses, nearly research.
I edited a special issue for The Journal of Somaesthetics with the title Somaesthetics and Phenomenology. This was a long term project, as I had been interested in the differences and analogies of the approaches. I was happy to get e.g. Tonino Griffero to write for the issue, as I have admired his work very much. My own take is in the extended preface, which is more of an introduction, “Somaesthetics and Phenomenology – A Handful of Notes.” (Vol 7, 2021: 1, 4-14.)
Ágalma: Rivista di studi culturali e di estetica fondata da Mario Perniola published my article “Mario Perniola, the Dank Humanities, and the Role of the Philosopher in Contemporary Culture, 2021/May, 123-131.
I visited (published 8.9) Mike Watson’s podcast ACID LEFT, talking about the Frankfurt School.
My novel Näkymätön lapsi (the invisible child) was published in August 2021 by KOVASANA. I am very happy about this, as I have never before published a novel. The story is simple, but in the layers there are many philosophical themes hidden, of course.
I was one of the “video visitors” in the session organized 20.5.2021 by in the Roman bookshop Eli, curated by Enea Bianchi. What a beautiful evening – and so many colleagues remembering the great philosopher of Rome!
I was keynote in “Vienna” (i.e. Zoom) February 19-21, 2021, at the 5th at Marginalizing Futures: rethinking embodiment, community and culture, the Forum of The Viennese Society for Intercultural Philosophy & German Society for Intercultural Philosophy. I will also present my new book On The Philosophy of Central European Art: The History of an Institution and its Global Competitors at the University of Warsaw (Philosophy Department) in February 2021.
I am the February guest of Elham Shafei’s podcast Monstera in Conversation.
Editor, together with Riikka Perälä, of the Journal of Somaesthetics 2020/2, Unhealthy and Dangeros Lifestyles – and the Care of the Self, including the Introduction/Editorial (p. 4-9).
My book on the history of the art system and its global outreach (colonial, mostly) is out at Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield). Take a look at the The Philosophy of Central European Art: History, Establishment, and Competition.
Published an article on rap music and Richard Shusterman’s work, ”Elävää kauneutta: Kulttuurin kierrätyksestä ja vanhojen teosten uudelleenlämmittämisestä (sekä muista Richard Shustermanin varhaisen rap-estetiikan kulmakivistä,” in Sini Mononen, Janne Palkisto, Inka Rantakallio (eds), Musiikki ja merkityksenanto (Helsinki: Suoni, 2020), 237-254. The point was to think of the technological, (cut-and-pasteseque) development of rap music and how the discussion about it in the 1990s featured many issues that today are a commonplace in discussions about digital culture.
I gave a talk at the theater festival Hangö Teaterträff about our bodies in covid times – and had a great discussion with the participants – and visited the dance students (BA) at the University of the Arts in Helsinki and discussed the institutional history of the arts and the history of theories of aesthetics experience (both October 2020).
This came out: “Rethinking Art Education: The Art School Theory Teacher as an Executive Producer”. In Slavka Kopackova, ed, Estetická výchova a prax vyučovania estetiky v kontextoch európskeho estetického myslenia 19. a 20. storočia – dialóg s tradíciou a súčasné koncepcie. Presov: Presov University Press, 2020. 262-272. I have for long thought, that the role of the supervisor in art universities is a bit like the role of the executive producer in rap music. Here I try to elaborate on that thought.
I edited with Zoltan Somhegyi for Peter Lang a book called Aesthetics in Dialogue, which is based on the idea that aesthetic theory is these days often mixed with other approaches in fresh ways (the days of autonomous aesthetic theories is over). The list of authors includes e.g. Yuriko Saito, Kathleen Higgins, S Buhaneshwari, Katya Mandoki and Tyrus Miller. My own text is about TV series, which I analyze with the help of Medieval Indian rasa theory.
I visited October 3, 2020, Mamta Sagar’s creative writing group as a commentator at Srishti College of Art and Design in Bengaluru India (through Zoom).
Take a look at our still quite fresh journal Popular Inquiry: The Journal of Aesthetics of Kitsch, Camp and Mass Culture. I am the editor in chief of the publication together with Jozef Kovalcik (see the international advisory board). We publish both in easy-reading format (“blog”) and classical academic PDFs. You find the old issues as well on our archive webpage. Please submit manuscripts to us!
I published “Notes on the Yellow Press (and Its Impact on Art): A Sketchy Return to the Mass Culture Debate.” Aesthetica Universalis, 2020: 1, 151-161 – as Sergey Dzikevich asked me to join him, Noël Carroll and many others in this attempt to bring upbeat spirit into the times dominated by Covid-19.
I published “Death Style, The Ultimate Expression of a Lifestyle: A Sketch for a Popular Futurology and Art Education for Funerals”, Art Communication and Popculture 2019:1-2, 16-17. (An essay on funeral culture for the last issue of a dying journal.)
I published a text (in Finnish) on the history of the art system and its (forgotten) alternatives, “Taide on hyväosaisten eurooppalaismiesten keksintö, jonka tulevaisuus kuuluu kaikille.” [Art is the invention of the privileged European Man, and its future should be open for everyone] in the sociological review Ilmiö, 23.3.2020.
I took part, with Pauline von Bonsdorff (University of Jyväskylä) in the panel organized by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences on why so many events were cancelled and not changed to be virtual, on May 8, 2020. (On-line version probably out soon.) Moderator (and invitation): Laura-Maija Hero. (Miksi festivaaleja ja kulttuuritapahtumia ei järjestetä etänä, vaan ne perutaan kokonaan?)
Aalto mediated mine and Jarkko Pyysiäinen’s work on class and age “downshifting”.
We wrote, with Jozef Kovalcik, about Covid-19 and its aesthetics, for Popular Inquiry: Gazing at the Invisible: “How Can Aesthetic Theory Help Make Sense of the State of Emergency Initiated by Covid-19?”
ESPES published my take on kitsch, where I claim that our experiences of nature are often dominated by kitsch imagery: “Kitsch Happens: On the Kitsch Experience of Nature,” ESPES 2019: 2, 10-16.
The Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (2019/1 (Spring), pp. 165-169) published my article “Rasafication: The Aesthetic Manipulation of our Everyday”, where I apply historical Indian philosophy, the rasa theory to the contemporary everyday.
4 Oct, 2019, I was on the committee for Mari Vergara’s doctoral thesis La imagen caleidoscópica in the University Complutense in Madrid Spain. Great work, enjoyed very much reading it, and had fun at the ritual.
My article “From Haunted Ruin to the Most Touristified of All Cities,” on the historically changing aesthetic nature of Venice and the way the whole city is a ruin (the base being fragile) was published in Jeanette Bicknell, Jennifer Judkins & Carolyn Korsmeyer (eds) (2019), Philosophical Perspectives on Ruins, Monuments and Memorials, pp. 157-165. London: Routledge.
Summer 2019: We published the special issue Body First: Somaesthetics and Popular Culture, that I edited as a guest editor together with Jozef Kovalcik for The Journal of Somaesthetics 2019: 1. It includes my own article “Under the Skin”, which dives into the problematics of distance and violent visual culture. Other authors in the special issue: Davide Giovanzana, Adam Andrzejewski, Janne Vanhanen, Noora Korpelainen, Sue Spaid and Scott Elliot.
August 2019: With Kevin Tavin and Mira Kallio-Tavin (3rd editor here) we edited for Palgrave a book on excessive art and art education. Art, Excess, and Education: Historical and Discursive Contexts. The book includes articles from e.g. Noël Carroll, Filippo Contesi, Annamari Vänskä, Paco Barragan, Raphael Vella, Juuso Paaso, Susan Livingston and us editors. My article in the book is a take on physically excessive movies, i.e. movies which stimulate the body but not the intellect: “Somatic Film”.
2018-2019 was a great year for teaching. I was teaching Philosophy and Theory of Art (MA), Authorship and Agency (MA), a course on contemporary art theories for doctoral students with Mira Kallio-Tavin and Kevin Tavin, Thesis Seminar (MA) and a fun visit to the Estonian Academy of Art for a Heretical Introduction to Visual Culture Studies (BA, MA). I also visited courses, like Harri Laakso’s hilarious craft course Beer and Sausage (BA). Many great visitors made the courses thrilling for me as well. Mamta Sagar, Jacob Lund, Carsten Friberg, Yvonne Förster, Liat Grayver, Elisabetta Di Stefano, Koko Hubara, Särre, Maryan Abdulkarim, Anna Jensen, Eliisa Suvanto and Sezgin Boynik reminded me again of the fantastic diversity of perspectives and working methods in arts and humanities.
20.5 I joined Tiina Majabacka and Riikka Niemelä for a discussion on the body, perception and art at Turku Art Museum.
I organized a seminar (in a long series of seminars on the topic, which we started to work on with Carsten Friberg years ago) on the topic Appearances of the Political. Aalto University, 8.5.2019, hosted a variety of speakers, like Mateusz Salwa, Margus Vihalem, Carsten Friberg and Elisabetta Di Stefano.
April 2019 I was one of the art writers starting in Sara Berti’s and Elham Shafei’s Contemporary Identities, a new periodical focusing on visual art. I wrote on Maria Agureeva’s and Elisa Giardina Papa’s work.
April 2019 I published a review of Somaesthetics and Aesthetic Experience (ed. Richard Shusterman) in The Journal of Somaesthetics. See here.
I published (in Finnish) an essay/review on the Sharjah Biennial 2019 (Vol 14) in Mustekala.
In the end of 2018 I quit chairing the Finnish Society of Aesthetics. I also quit representing Finland in the board of the International Association for Aesthetics. After 2 years as the vice chair and 5 years as the chair of the Finnish, and 6 years on the board of the international society, I was more than happy to step down, and leave space for the next generation.
My doctoral student Henriikka Huunan-Seppälä is defended her doctoral thesis 14.12. Her opponent was Noël Carroll. More here.
December 5-6, 2018, I visited Roskilde and Copenhagen one of the invited (keynote) speakers of the Beauty conference, which was organized by the research project Aesthetics Unlimited, directed by Anne Elisabeth Seiten. My talk touched the topic of cute, ugly and (of course mainly) beautiful kitsch. I also took part in the board meeting of The Journal of Somaesthetics, where we, together with Richard Shusterman, Falk Heinrich and Anne Marie Bukdahl noted that the journal is doing well. I promised to take the role of assistant editor helping out Falk, starting from May, when my adminstrational work will diminish.
We published, with Jozef Kovalcik (co-writers), our take on what art scenes are in Contemporary Aesthetics. (Read here.)
Mine and Jarkko Pyysiäinen’s article on aesthetic downgrading (vis a vis Bourdieu type of aesthetic upgrading) is out in Poetics. (Read here.)
I published, through Peter Lang, a book on architectural remains, together with Zoltan Somhegyi. It came out late in the summer 2018. Learning from Decay: Essays on the Aesthetics of Architectural Dereliction and Its Consumption, is our attempt to rethink ruins, e.g. through analyzing the touristification of ruins and decayed architectural areas, old hot dog stands, the use of ruins in visual arts, etc.
I was invited to talk in Yvonne Förster’s great Phenomenology of Changing Life-Worlds: Exploring Human-Machine Interactions colloquim July 23-24 at the University of Konstanz in Germany. I talked about robot cars. In my paper “New Visual Order: Making Sense of Robot-Driven Cars” I talked about the paradoxically humanizing touch of technology, which sometimes dominates our encounters with robotics.
The Finnish Society for Aesthetics organized (me as the head) the 2018 pre conference of the International Association for Aesthetics July 5-7, 2018. The working group consisted of me, Petteri Enroth, Harri Mäcklin and Sanna Lehtinen. We had 60 guests present and a series of great keynotes including Yuriko Saito, Jack Halberstam, Elisabetta di Stefano and Andrew Light. The hos institution was my home department, Aalto University’s Department of Art (which is a part of Aalto ARTS). (See the Call for Papers.) Pic below: With Yuriko Saito and Elisabetta Di Stefano on the Aalto University campus tour.
The academic year 2017-2018 was pedagogically a series of stimulating challenges. Besides trying out new readings of classics on the Philosophy of Art for Post-Contemporary Artists course, which focused on framing European classics as ethnic products of their cultures, 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 micro political issues. The point of the course was to discuss positions in the society. I also organized talks at my program by e.g. Sezgin Boynik and Charlene Teters, and I think the theme of the year was to find new fundaments through discussing ‘alternatives’. 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.
We performed our We Know Who You Are Fucker! June 16, 2018, in Riga Performance Festival with Davide Giovanzana. It is a lecture performance, a reading accompanied by disturbing images, and it touches upon imagination and violence. (See link and for more information on the piece, check the info in Scholar.) The performance takes 50 minutes and consists only of reading and images.
May 11 I talked in the colloquim Appearances of the Political, together with e.g. Elisabetta Di Stefano, Tonino Griffero, Carsten Friberg, Mateusz Salwa, Rita Messori, Francesca Zanella and Margus Vihalem. My talk “The Anarchist Banker. Activism, Politics and Visibility”, was based on a Sloterdijkian reading of our aesthetic political practices, i.e. it was a critical talk about our performative ways of doing politics which sometimes overshadow practical political work.
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.
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 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’.
September 10-20, 2015 Visited the Istanbul and Venice biennales (see blog posts).
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.