Text by Louna-Tuuli Luukka ja Jussi Salminen
Reality Research Center, founded in 2001, is a collective of artists engaged in performative adventures.
Our shared aspiration is to observe, question, and renew reality by creating performances.
This issue celebrates 20 years old Reality Research Center (RRC). For the last two decades RRC has played an important role in the evolution of Finnish theatre and live art scene by bringing artistic research, performative thinking and new forms of performance into focus. For the artists, RRC has served as a platform for research, studying and reaching towards the audiences through publications, performances, workshops, etc. Ice Hole is one of these platforms and we, the editors, are the members of the collective.
Louna-Tuuli: Jussi, why do you want to research reality? I’m assuming something drives you to do that, since you are an active member of RRC.
Jussi: To research and study reality is my way to be, act and happen in this world, in this very moment, under these circumstances. Am I a lucky bastard and privileged to have an opportunity to live like this? – Oh, yes!
Louna-Tuuli: The awareness of being a lucky bastard has been present in many ways in the works of RRC, I think, for example in some kind of intensity towards the relationship with the audience. The willingness to share the processuality of thinking in the language of a performance form, and making this sharing to be the dramaturgical basis or the core of the performances is one aspect of this.
I definitely have been considering myself as a lucky bastard while working at RRC, not in the sense of experiencing glamour or glory that much, but in the sense of learning to think freely when cooking up new ideas for performances. Not to mention putting the ideas to practice.
A lot has happened in RRC within the past twenty years, since 2001. This issue highlights some of the strands of our collective tissue. Pilvi Porkola and Janne Saarakkala discuss the exhaustion of the precariat. What does it take to be more tender and sustainable towards oneself and work itself? Work, identity and me-strategies are also intertwined within the dialogue between the Actor Tuire Tuomisto and the Director Tuire Tuomisto. They speak not just about representation of identities and artist’s ethics, but also about the particularities of their artistic practices. It might be a question of interpretation whether the play of two connoisseurs is more of a drama or a comedy, but in any case it is a delicious niche for the friends of performance. Director Tuire Tuomisto and Actor Tuire Tuomisto explore representation on the common ground of having made RRC performance The Other back in the day.
Tuomas Laitinen introduces On Our Knees practice, which has been part of RRC’s collective work since 2007. At the end of his text, Laitinen opens up the utopist horizon for a gesture acted by the local politicians. Anyone in? Whereas dramaturge Eddie contributes to the issue with a vlog, where they pay tribute to RRC in the spirit of the Helsinki by Night performance and end up with a hybrid form of several performative practices.
As a part of the main program of 2021, RRC organized the Performance Wagon installation in the middle of Helsinki city centre. It was possible to purchase a variety of instant performances off the wagon, many of which were the updates, the adaptations or the compilations of the past RRC performances. By watching the compilation of short video diaries, you will get glimpses of what happened during this collective effort in August.
The past 20 years have brought significant progress in the evolution of live art in Finland, both in relation to society in general and in relation to increasing diversity of performative forms. Perhaps, most notably this development has concerned the relationship between the audience and the performance itself. Maria Säkö and Klaus Maunuksela give perspectives on this process and RRC through their personal histories with the collective. Their dialogue touches upon the area of citizenship, activism, and institutions, and delves into the complicated relationship between art and politics. How do they see RRC today and what could RRC become in the future(s)? What would be the utopia of RRC?
Jussi: What about you, Louna-Tuuli, what is your utopia at this moment?
Louna-Tuuli: When I worked for RRC for the first time in 2012 the theme was utopian reality then. So, for me, this question opens up both towards my history with RRC and then the utopian landscape of the future of live art… I need to digest this a bit.
(A week later:) I don’t know if I’m able to really distinguish utopian ideas from the general thinking within the artistic ideas and offer possible suggestions to RRC. The way I see it, RRC should actually be about reaching towards doing what you somehow yearn to do, no matter how strange or marginal your idea would be. I’m an optimist by nature and, in a way, formulating quite a dreamy idea about a new performance is a utopian practice, at least in the phase of a clash between the dreamy idea and the reality of hunting for funding. I guess my obvious and boring answer to the question about my utopia is that there would be more resources for live art, so that RRC could buy more time for the freelance artists to be more free in their reality research practice.
What about you and your utopia, Jussi?
Jussi: My utopia is not to give a f*ck.
Louna-Tuuli: Congratulations Reality Research Centre!
Louna-Tuuli Luukka and Jussi Saminen are members of RRC and editors of this ICE HOLE issue in collaboration with Pilvi Porkola.