Residency artists and researchers

Performing arts, performance art

Inari Virmakoski

Performance artist

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

Being a performance artist is my third career. I started my working life as a radiographer at the Helsinki University Hospital, after which I worked in development cooperation tasks in Tanzania in the 1970s and as a health educator in a tuberculosis project in Somalia in the 1980s, for a total of eight years. I felt that art would be an excellent way to share my experiences and applied to Art School Maa, graduating as a visual artist in 1995.

During my studies, I discovered a passion for performance art. Often my performances have been rituals that engage the viewers and encourage them to get involved. Although I got off to a late start as an artist, my career has now been going for over 30 years and I’m not done yet. I have performed on almost all continents.

The topics of my art have included human rights, issues of war and peace, humanity, love and nature. For example, my performance piece Sweet and Sour Milk from 1999 described the pain of war, of becoming a refugee and of arriving in a new country as a refugee, and was linked to my experiences in Somalia.

The climate theme has been strongly present in my latest works, such as at the Art Ii Biennale in Northern Finland in the summer of 2022, the theme was “in the air”. My installation consisted of large fabric nets attached to a newly built footbridge. Swaying in the air, they concretised the movement of the wind. In addition, the villagers participated by carrying a long white lace net over the bridge in a procession.

I like to cross the boundaries of art and I jump between different art forms whenever the opportunity arises. For example, I have performed in dance and musical theatre pieces at the Finnish National Theatre in 2017 and the Lahti City Theatre in 2019.