Residency artists and researchers

Performing arts, performance art

Katriina Kettunen

performance artist and journalist

I am Katriina, a performance artist and journalist who has made a home in Helsinki. During my residency, I will focus on planning a new work of performing art that is also an artistic research project.

The work is called Exercises in Gaining Transparency and is inspired by the philosopher Byung-Chul Han’s book The Transparency Society. According to Han, we live in a society of transparency where constant interaction and openness has become an unchallenged ideal. In the digital age, everything leaves a mark, a document, evidence. He also links transparency to relationships, symbolically equates it with pornography and raises questions of power, control and lack of trust: “(A) transparent relationship is a dead one, altogether lacking attraction and vitality.”

I will tackle these ideas and study transparency both figuratively and concretely: as a phenomenon that relates to spaces and materials, the human body, the psyche and social reality. During the residency, I will also outline a “Hanian” antithesis to transparency. I will retreat to silence for a while. I will turn off my phone, computer, the ceiling light and close my studio door.

My artistic practice is still young and still taking shape. In fact, “practice” as a word related to the academics and institutions of the arts is still new to me. I adopted it around 2017 when I began my studies at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy in the master’s programme of Live Art and Performance Studies.

In any case, as an artist I like “why?” and “what if?” questions. I also like the question, “what exists already?” This may be related to the interfaces between everyday life and art, where I like to roam. In my performances, I rarely present predigested statements, but instead like to invite the audience to reflect on the topic at hand together with me. My background as a journalist and my commitment to the ethical journalistic code of conduct also influence my art.

I belong to the Reality Research Center (RRC), a collective of performing artists based in Helsinki. The piece I am working on at the Saari Residence will be included in the RRC’s repertoire next autumn. I have invited a sound and space designer to join the project, and they will visit me at Saari during my time there.

Finally, when applying for the residency, I mentioned that I would also critically examine the structures in which the work is created. In my view, this introductory text is part of the “performance of transparency” that also permeates the making of art. This text is an opportunity for me to describe myself as an artist and perhaps earn a little more of a foothold in the field. At the same time, of course, I will participate in the marketing of the residence activities. (As Han points out, transparency is often driven by financial interest.)

Yet, I asked the photographer to take my portrait without showing my face. The boundary I made as regards my face is not clear or definitive, but I wanted to give it a try. How do you feel about it?