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.
Our vision: Art will change reality
Performances are both the instrument and the fruit of our research; every year we produce several projects that expand and break not only the prevailing concept of reality, but also the borders and definitions of performative art. Most of our performances take place outside of traditional art spaces: in the woods, in offices, on the street, in boxing rings, in virtual reality, in parliament, or in homes. Exceptional circumstances require exceptional care for the spectator – over the years we have become specialists in audience development. The spectators and their experiences are the focal point of our interest. That is why we often replace the word spectator with experiencer, participant, or even author.
Performance and live art is related to the general performative turn in society.
In the 21st century, Finland has seen the emergence of performance and live art (FI: esitystaide), an art form located somewhere between theatre, performance art, and contemporary dance. Performance and live art is related to the general performative turn in society – nowadays performativity is of interest not only to artists but also to event producers, consultants, teachers, digital service developers, health care professionals, and the game and advertisement industries, among others.
During the past 18 years, Reality Research Center has been establishing the position of performance and live art on the Finnish cultural landscape, and has carried out more than 100 performance projects. In addition we have organized workshops, seminars, events, and disturbances; our creations include a pedagogical method, a mystery school, a prison residency, art larcenies, and urban rituals. We have participated in long-term international projects and our performances tour abroad regularly. Esitys magazine (2007–2017) started our publishing activities. Since then we have released several books as well. The newcomer in our family of publications is the online magazine Ice Hole – the Live Art Journal.
So, Reality Research Center is not a theatre, even though many of our members have a background in that field, and some of our work falls within the borders of contemporary theatre. We are a crew of disagreeing performing arts professionals – directors, actors, choreographs, lighting designers, musicians, game designers, ritual artists, cultural pedagogues. Reality Research Center is not a secret society, either. Every autumn anybody interested in the artistic research of reality can apply as a member. At the moment we are a group of 40. In addition to our members, 15–50 visiting artists or scholars take part in our productions yearly.
Our mission is to foresee the future and go where nobody else has gone before.
Our mission is to foresee the future and go where nobody else has gone before. For 18 years Reality Research Center has stayed two steps ahead of others. That’s why our performances may seem strange and we might stay below the popular radar. But, when a certain performative approach becomes a trend, it is probable that some of us have already experimented with it. We are contemporary explorers and the outpost of the future; the avant-garde of the Finnish performative arts. In practice this means:
- Testing boundaries; perpetual pondering on what performance and performer could be.
- Creating and developing new art forms.
- Incessant questioning of what the nature of reality is. Our aim is to get everyone into questioning what reality is and what it should be.
Artistic director, Main & Off programs
For 2018 to 2020, Janne Saarakkala, one of the charter members, was chosen as the Artistic Director of Reality Research Center. During these years collective’s productions are divided in 1.) Main Program chosen by Saarakkala and 2.) Informal Off Program.
Administrative board 2020
Titta Halinen (chairperson), Jonna Wikström, Julius Elo and Maria Santavuori
Aaltonen Matilda (dance artist) / Aittamaa Essi (producer) / Blomberg Wilhelm (performance artist) / Condit Outi (actor, performance artist) Eerola Talvikki (actor) / Elo Julius (director, performance artist) / Haataja Henri (producer) / Halinen Titta (dramaturg) / Hammarberg Johanna (artist) / Hannula Saara (performance maker and researcher) / Hosiasluoma Niina (actor) / Härkönen Ville (actor) / Häkkinen Anna Maria (dance artist, choreograph) / Johnsson Jussi (actor) / Jussilainen Anna (dance artist, teacher and cultural scholar) / Kalenius Lea (poet and adult educator) / Katriina Kettunen (journalist, MA student of live art & theory) / Kontula Lauri (actor) / Koskinen Pekko (game designer) / Laitinen Tuomas (director, performance artist) / Lappi Ari-Pekka (reality game designer, solution architect) / Lindstedt Iida-Maaria (actor) / Luukka Louna-Tuuli (drama instructor) / Mertanen Minja (dance artist) / Mäkelä Pasi (butodancer, musician) / Mustonen Maija (dance artist) / Neves Joel (director) / Numminen Katariina (director, dramaturg) / Nuutinen Maria (performance artist, environmental scholar) / Oiva Maria (director, performance artist) / Partanen Jarkko (choreograph, dance artist) / Pellinen Janne (performance artist, lawyer) / Pitkänen Pekka (light designer) / Porkola Pilvi (director, performance artist) / Priha Linda (dance artist) / Saarakkala Janne (director) / Salminen Jussi (live artist) / Santavuori Maria (performer, pedagog and trainer in music and performing arts) / Santavuori Risto (cultural pedagog) / Silvennoinen Tommi (director) / Taipale Petri (director, performance artist) / Torvinen Timo (actor, drama instructor, theater technician) / Tuomisto Tuire (actor) / Van Den Berg Kolina (actor) / Vuori Eero-Tapio (director, ritual artist) / Wikström Jonna (performance artist, drama instructor)
Tel. + 358 400 641 989
Kaasutehtaankatu 1/33, FI 00540 Helsinki
Helsinki, Suvilahti, Puhdistamo, building 6, 2nd floor
(Kaasutehtaankatu 1/33, FI 00540 Helsinki)
ICE HOLE #10
Issue #10 of the online magazine ICE HOLE – The Live Art Journal is out!
Plunge in: https://icehole.fi/
The 10th issue of ICE HOLE online journal is now out. The editor of the Isolation themed issue is Pilvi Porkola and the makers are students from her performance course in Aalto University.
The spring of 2020 was very unusual. In short time the Covid-19 pandemic changed our everyday lives: the way we move, meet others and teach. Courses were suddenly moved to online platforms. The performance course too was held via Zoom which felt paradoxical, when thinking that performance is an embodied art form that often happens between people in a shared time and space. However, there is a strong tradition of performing to camera in the field of performance art. ICE HOLE 10 is an edited compilation based on video works participants made during the course. The works give us a glimpse of the strangeness of the new everyday life and a new kind of loneliness – of both anxiety and hope.
Main programme 2020
“I am looking at you looking at me looking at you looking at…”
In this wordless performance the performers negotiate a permission to watch, seducing the viewer into another world. But who is looking at whom?
“Where does your gaze end at and mine begin? A gaze belongs to no one but is an act to take part at.”
Voyeur explores the dynamics of the gaze through bodily communication. It makes the power of the gaze visible, revealing its potential for love. Voyeur is a space where the audience can safely explore emotions and experiences of looking and being seen. What does it feel like to be seen? Where can you feel it? How do our eyes meet? When do I turn my eyes away? What is communication without words?
The working group is led by director-choreographers Matilda Aaltonen and Joel Teixeira Neves. Aaltonen’s and Neves’ artistic research related to Voyeur started already in 2017 in the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. In 2019, Voyeur was staged in collaboration with the Riveria Vocational Institute in Outokumpu, Finland. In 2020, Voyeur will be one of the headline productions of Reality Research Center’s seasonal program that focuses on the body and the notion of embodiment.
Nurture – An Impossible performance
Nurture is a one-on-one performance, where Samuli Laine investigates the politics of gender, nurturing and coexistence through the act of breastfeeding. The performance emerged from a desire to suggest new perspectives softly and tenderly and study nurturing as a radical driver of change. Nurture will create a space for a delicate encounter that deconstructs the traditionally gendered practice of breastfeeding. In the performance, Samuli Laine nurses the spectator-experiencer. This event will create a temporary bond between twopeople and provide a space where social norms can change. Nurture reaches towards an alternate state of being and invites the experiencer to daydream. At the same time, the performance challenges the standardized, gender and body related expectations for breastfeeding.
Nurture centers on the fragility of life and the need to identify and acknowledge your own vulnerability. The performance invites you to scrutinize the network of connections and codependency that sustain life on earth. Our codependence means that we are linked to countless networks of human communities as well as endless biological processes that sustain our bodies and enable life on our planet in the first place.
Nurture is part of the Residency Program for Impossible Performance which is on the Reality Research Center’s main program from 2019 to 2021. The main partner of the Residency Program is the ANTI Festival in Kuopio, Eastern Finland. Through an open call, the Reality Research Center selects one residency artist per year to produce an unprecedented performance to be premiered at the ANTI Festival in September. The residency program is meant for emerging artists who work in Finland and who have unfulfilled dreams about performing arts.
Talking in the Rain
Talking in the Rain: An Entertaining Show About the Weather is a project and performance about weather and climate. The conveners and artistic leaders of the project are Maria Oiva (Reality Research Center) and Kristina Junttila (Ferske Scener). The performances will take place at the Moving in November Festival in Helsinki, Finland, in fall 2020.
We all have an inescapable, mundane relationship with the weather. In contrast, we tend to consciously choose how to relate to climate and climate change. Talking in the Rain: An Entertaining Show About the Weather approaches questions relating to the weather and climate through embodiment. The performance is created in the form of a talk show, during which the audience is exposed to the weather mentally and physically.
In addition to processing the topic through dialogue and thinking, we want to understand what happens in our bodies when we talk about the weather and climate change. By combining the mind and the body with art and research, the artists will focus our attention to the experience of the weather.
Talking in the Rain: An Entertaining Show About the Weather is a joint project of three partners: Reality Research Center (Finland), Ferske Scener (Norway) and Western Norway Research Institute (Norway).
Sleeping Beauty – Sexual fantasy and roleplay
Sleeping Beauty is a participatory performance that approaches sexuality through power and role play. The performance offers an opportunity to carry out fantasies with a “sleeping” person. The participant can choose to be either the sleeper or the visitor, and bring along gears, accessories or props to one’s liking.
Sleeping Beauty gives room to personal fantasies, sensations and feelings, and communication through touch. It invites the participant to step into the reality of the performance where power and surrender, trust and consent, curiosity and timidity, desires and fears, being seen and experiencing human beauty meet.
- Concept: Julius Elo & Xana