MUUtod. - Return to Tomorrow

MUU Monday 24 February 2020 

MUU Gallery

Lönnrotinkatu 33, Helsinki


18:30–19:00 Kimmo Sarje, Kimmo Koskela and Juha Haanperä: Mini opera Nostalgia for Avant-garde
19:00–20:30 Let’s Talk About Performance: Kimmo Takala and Kikka Rytkönen: Roots and early years of Finnish performance art – futurism and avantgarde

The main theme of MUU members’ night MUUtod. – Return to Tomorrow is the vision for Artists’ Association MUU for 2020–2022. The event will take place at MUU Gallery on Monday 24 February 2020 starting at 17:00. Members of MUU are welcome to discuss the present, future plans, member services and projects of the association. We will also discuss the new MUU website and changes in the facilities at Cable Factory. Come and join us!

The discussion will be followed at 18:30 by the screening of a mini opera, Nostalgia for Avant-garde, in celebration of the 141st anniversary of the birth of Kazimir Malevich. The themes and background of the opera will be introduced by Kimmo Sarje. Originally composed by Juha Haanperä in 1989, the mini opera was filmed on video in 1999. Lasting seven and a half minutes, the video will be screened at the event.

The evening will be rounded off by a discussion with Kimmo Takala and Kikka Rytkönen about the roots and early years of performance art in Finland. The discussion is part of MUU’s Let’s Talk About Performance series. The ensembles and performances discussed will include Jack Helen Brut and Homo$, the Ö Group founded by Erkki Pirtola, the futurist clubbing scene in Helsinki and activities of the Uusi laulu association.

Limited seating, register now! Link to online registration HERE

Kimmo Sarje, Kimmo Koskela and Juha Haanperä:
Mini opera Nostalgia for Avant-garde

24.2.2020 at 18:30–19:00

MUU Gallery

 “Come out into the white; beside me comrade-pilots, swim in this infinity!”

Kazimir Malevich 1919

The mini opera Nostalgia for Avant-garde emerged from an eponymous montage exhibition by Kimmo Sarje that was presented in Kluuvi Gallery in Helsinki from 4 to 20 August 1989, a time when the Soviet Union was still very much a reality. In his exhibition, Sarje explored the concept of the avantgarde by freely combining and juxtaposing motifs and ideas from early 20th century Soviet political and artistic avantgarde.

In the montages, Sarje simulated Kazimir Malevich’s (1879–1935) suprematist compositions by overpainting an official photograph of Lenin with black acrylic and mounting on it postcard-sized portfolio photographs of members of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.The textual elements in the montages consisted of excerpts from an essay on Lenin that Malevich published right after the revolutionary leader’s death in January 1924, in which he examined critically Lenin’s impact and significance.

After completing the montages, Sarje realised that the textual fragments actually made a fine libretto for a miniature opera, all that he needed was a composer. Sarje persuaded musician and actor Juha Haanperä to compose the score in just a few days, and on the opening night of the exhibition on 3 August 1989, Haanpää performed his opera in the gallery.

The mini opera Nostalgia for Avant-gardewas versioned into a video that was completed in 1999. It was presented as a loop in a video installation at Gallery Kari Kenetti in Helsinki from 24 November to 19 December 1999. (Concept: Kimmo Sarje. Videography: Kimmo Koskela. Music and performance: Juha Haanperä. Sound design: Pirkko Tiitinen. Animation: Antti Kari & Kimmo Koskela. Installation and direction: Kimmo Koskela & Kimmo Sarje. Producer: Kimmo Koskela. Duration appr. 7.5 min.)

The opera will be screened in MUU Gallery on 24 February 2020 at 18:30 to celebrate the 141st anniversary of the birth of Kazimir Malevich. Kimmo Sarje will give an introduction to the themes and background of the opera.

Let’s Talk About Performance:

Kimmo Takala and Kikka Rytkönen:

Roots and early years of Finnish performance art – futurism and avantgarde

24.2.2020 at 19:00–20:30

MUU Gallery

“You are at your most anonymous when you wear no clothes”

Jack Helen Brut

The history of live performance art goes back to ancient tribal rites.

“In the course of the 1900s, especially in transitional periods of modern art, experimental live performances presented by emerging avantgarde movements and their deliberate attack against prevalent artistic and social values served as a testing ground for new ideas. The futurists in Italy and Russia, the Dadaists in Zurich and later the surrealists in Paris, all presented radical views and tested their viability in live performances.”

Kimmo Takala, 1995

The guest at the Let’s Talk About Performance! discussion is Kimmo Takala, member of Jack Helen Brut, the first Finnish performance group back in 1981, which later also collaborated with the group Homo$. At the time the performances of these pioneers were still called happenings. The members of Jack Helen Brut consisted of artists, fashion and interior designers and dancers who were active in the clubbing scene in Helsinki and the events organised by the Uusi laulu association. Along with the group’s appearances, the term “performance” gained wider currency in Finland.

Subsequently Kimmo Takala earned an MFA and worked as set designer, teacher of theatre history, as multi-disciplinary artist and writer. Recipient of the State Art Prize, he is an expert on scenography and theatre studies. Just like the early performance groups, he too creates work that exist somewhere between the stage and the visual image.

In their avantgarde performances Jack Helen Brut combined transparencies, overhead projections, music and motion in space. Amidst the projections, the performers entered new worlds and realities, or with their naked bodies served as projection screens. A key aspect of their work was one of the fundamental ideas of body art, of the creation of live sculpture: to disengage from all commercialism in art.

Performance art in Finland in the late 1980s centred around the idea of breaking boundaries. As far back as the early 1900s, the landmark futurist opera Victory over the Sun, with sets designed by Kazimir Malevich, celebrated a new era of machines and power, a time when cowards and the soft middle class had to make way for progress. In the late 1980s, Jack Helen Brut and Homo$ performed, with performance artist Elisaveta Bam, a reconstruction of Victory over the Sun and of a few other stage performances from the 1920s.

Sources: Takala, Kimmo. Ihminen merkkinä ja teko taiteena. Esiintyjä – taiteen tulkki ja tekijä. WSOY 1994.

Kivirinta – Pohjola – Rossi: Koko hajanainen kuva. WSOY 1991.