Saari Alumni Stories: Aune Kallinen

Kuva: Ela Spalding

Performance artist and theatre director Aune Kallinen worked at the Saari Residence in the winter of 2010. Although she works in the field of performing arts, her creations are often located in the space between different art forms. In her works, Kallinen tackles questions about the unknown and everything we are unable to understand or see.

Kallinen studied theatre direction under Kaisa Korhonen, Atro Kahiluoto and Juha-Pekka Hotinen at the Helsinki’s Theatre Academy. In her last years of study, she and a fellow theatre direction student and friend, Minna Harjuniemi, had the opportunity to run Ylioppilasteatteri, i.e. the Helsinki Student Theatre. “For us, the Helsinki Student Theatre was like a second theatrical school where we had tremendous freedom and responsibility to develop and evolve,” says Kallinen. “We were very ambitious artistically and didn’t want to make a single compromise.”

Kallinen notes, however, that during her years at the Student Theatre, she stayed within the conventional theatre framework and reformed the stage from the stage. Her work did not expand outside the theatre stage until after leaving the Helsinki Student Theatre. “I plunged into galleries and the street, and even though I had not felt in any way restricted, it freed me.” It was during that time, Kallinen says, that she became interested in performance, political artistic activities and the interconnections and duration of visual art and the performing arts. Since then, her works have been displayed at the Kiasma Theatre and art galleries, among others.

The artist describes her work rhythm as slow. “My work is all about being sensitive and listening. I fumble around and try to follow something I recognise as a performance, a creature in its own right. It slowly unwinds itself open, sometimes taking years to do so, and I have to be calm and not imagine that I have any power over it, nor try to force it to be something it’s not,” Kallinen explains. “Because I’m particularly interested in what we do not yet feel, recognize or know, I can’t start to act like a bully or an authority about it.”

What is important to Kallinen is the polyphonic nature of the world. “I ponder endlessly how there could be room for all of us here – all the species, habits, needs, styles.” Polyphony is also a part of Kallinen’s practice. “I try to design the performance situation so that there is room in the same space for many things at the same time,” she explains. The working groups involved often consist of artists from many fields, ranging from dance to visual art. Also, Kallinen usually performs in her works herself as an equal member of the group: “I act as a kind of convener and take responsibility for the overall structure, but I don’t interfere with what the others are doing any more than they do.”

The principles for their teamwork reflect a political aspect, which Kallinen is particularly interested in within the context of performing arts: “We think together through art, and yet every component in the work is its own independent agent. This sort of organisation is both a political conviction and a matter of ethics/aesthetics to me.” The artist surmises that making performances is a way for her to take care of the world: “Taking care of something requires gentleness, responsibility for the past and the future, but above all responsibility for the present, shared moment. The moment of the presentation is a potential world that has become real alongside all the other worlds. I don’t take it lightly, although I strive to approach it with a light touch.”

Aune Kallinen has recently returned from maternity leave to teach at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy and is also planning new artistic projects. These include a fictional documentary novel which Kallinen is writing about her parents. “They were flaming Red communists and theatre makers who drank themselves to death a few years ago,” says Kallinen. “I am going through a variety of documentary materials that have been left behind and I imagine the rest. This project is bizarre to me and, in many ways, too personal. It’s the impossibility of it that inspires me to continue.”