In Biennale Arte 2013 there are a some exhibitions where the presence of human body plays a central role. The Russian exhibition involves live performers, in the Romanian pavilion a group of performers embody the artworks exhibited in Venice during the previous biennales. The show is thought-provokingly entitled Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale. The main exhibition of the Biennale Arte 2013, Encyclopedic Palace, includes Tino Sehgal’s prize-winning performance in which two or three people in changing constellations hum and beatbox while moving on the floor.
The contribution of the Finnish Other Spaces group adds to this incipient trend the question of bodily mimesis and imagination beyond anthropomorphism. With regard to the theme of the main exhibition of Biennale Arte 2013 offering the dream of a universal and all-embracing knowledge, Other Spaces urge us to ask, whether it is, actually, our own body that constitutes an ‘encyclopedic palace’ par exellence. Isn’t the body itself a multi-layered archive of silent knowledge, both individual and collective, perhaps even in a phylogenetic perspective?
If one of the paradigmatic figures of ossified knowledge structures, the taxonomic tree, is today put in question, seen as a ‘falling tree’, what, then, might be needed in order expose the anthropomorphic image of our bodily existence for a similar transformation? How to make our body image fall? In light of the work of the Other Spaces group, one possible answer to this is the steady practice of imagining the body otherwise with help of its own capacities.
Through a series of exercises that build on carefully worked-out bodily techniques the performers gain access to the latent layers of experience slumbering in our body. With help of these techniques and collective work it is possible to undergo a transformation into non-human forms of being, such as bats, worms, sun-rays, buildings or mushrooms. In fact, this was recently witnessed by a number of exhibition guests in front of the Aalto pavilion.
During two days, 2 and 3 July, 10 members of the Other Spaces collective (Jaakko Kiljunen, Esa Kirkkopelto, Lauri Kontula, Pyry Kääriä, Minja Mertanen, Laura Pietiläinen, Sanni Priha, Jaakko Ruuska, Jaana Taskinen and Paula Tella) presented parts of their work in form of a demonstration of a series of exercises entitled Olives and Stones. On both days more than 200 biennale visitors were actively following the performance. On 2 July additionally 6 co-performers from the ScarlattineTeatro (Lecco, Italy) participated in the performance.
Esa and the Italian co-performers Martha, Giuditta, Maria, Barbara and John during the rehersals © Mika Elo
Barbara, Esa, Laura and Pyry preparing the exercise solar system © Mika Elo
Maria, Barbara, Martha and others during the exercise bats © Mika Elo
Mushroom rhizome from the exercise mushrooms © Mika Elo
John and others as mushrooms during the exercise mushrooms © Mika Elo
Lauri, Jaakko, Jaana and Esa as proto-animals during the exercise animal circle © Mika Elo
Pyry as a plant in the exercise solar system and Minja as revolving sun in the background © Mika Elo
Lauri in the exercise three graces © Mika Elo
© Mika Elo