Kiasma-lehti | Kiasma Magazine
Kiasma-lehti 22 | Kiasma Magazine 22
No 22 Vol 7

Julius Elo: Interview with Myself

What is your relationship to the theatre?

Hmm... for me, the theatre is a cultural event. I like to play with its possibilities, variations and contexts. I try to think which theatrical elements I can use in my performance, which elements could be used in a different way, which to leave unused. This goes for both the actual performance and its content. I have noticed that I often build my performances around questions about the audience, such as, What is their status in the performance? How do they confront themselves within the context of the performance?

The word theatron means a place for seeing. For seeing what? And how? One should keep these questions in mind throughout the entire process. I want to see the theatre as a space of possibilities, but unfortunately that is all too seldom the case these days. For me, it is an area whose boundaries and content are redefined each time I make a performance. Perhaps my performances are proposals for drama. Watching them, you are free to see them as drama or not, it is up to you.

I sometimes toy with the idea that if drama has leaked from theatre to culture, and our life has increasingly become dramatical, could perhaps the theatre be the place where you can give up the drama, give up all pretence... or is it just an impossible utopia?

What is your relationship to other forms of art?

They are potentially present all the time. Mixing and combining different types of performances is a natural thing for me. I am mostly interested in the ways in which installation, dance, performance, happening and cinema are presented and received. I am fascinated by the idea of performance as composition, either between different art forms or between different elements.

What is performance for you?

A performance can be any event that takes place within a set period of time. The distinct-ive feature of performance is that it mixes life and art. Only the blend varies. The dimension of art is in the receiver’s consciousness.

What exactly do you mean when you say art?


How do you approach performance?

I have recently thought about performance as an event, game or observation. I am intrigued by the ways in which the conceptual perception and construction of a performance through such concepts affects the performance itself and its reception.

Could you give us some concrete examples of those differences?

Let me see... looking at performance as an event, you can concentrate on the fact that the participants (performers and the audience) share the same space. The status of the audience changes from that of ”viewers” to participants, a presence in the performance. Another change happens when the performance takes place all around the participants, instead of just in front of them. Then people participate in it with their entire body, not just with their eyes. This means that a performance is no longer constructed through vision only, but through the spatial bodily presence of both the performers and the ”viewers”.

Looking at performance as a game, the key questions is, who are the players? Is it a game between the performers, between the per-formers and the viewers, or amongst the viewers? It also spotlights the question of the roles and/or tasks we ascribe to the participants and the ”viewers”. What are the rules of the game, and to what extent are they explained to the ”viewers”?

Performance as observation often has a very meditative quality. You might say that it is seeing in the widest possible sense, seeing as applied to all the senses. It is about fine-tuning the awareness and perceptions of the ”viewer”, or rather the experiencer. How to make the ”viewer” really feel and see. Putting it formally, you could say that the primary function of performance is the creation of a set of circumstances enabling people to see that which they no longer can see and experience just by themselves.

You are currently making a performance with Pilvi Porkola for the Kiasma Theatre, entitled Me and Paratits. What sort of a performance is it going to be?

We are both interested in the themes of travel and memory. Memory as performance and travelling as a mental state. A performance depicting the boundary of dream, sleep and illusion, where you can touch the lost paradise. We let kitsch and sickly sweet surfaces guide us. Hmm... I think I’ll dream on a little while still.

Julius Elo
Performance artist.