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  • Taru Meri Koski

As an artist I need to know how to read

Updated: Aug 22

Toisinajatteilijat is (at the moment) a year long project, where we (Koski, Keskikallio and Voima), besides our individual artistic projects, are seeking to articulate and contextualise more sustainable future spaces and professional time tracks for dance(r) and performance artists. Widening the possible futures and professional contexts for dance- and performance artists is approached via trying to grasp:

  • What is artistic thought?

  • How does artistic perception operate?

  • How to work and identify as a professional artist in a more sustainable and meaningful manner?

Dance and performance as art forms don’t necessarily need words in order to be readable. This doesn't mean that artists are, or afford to be, illiterate. As an artist I need to know how to read my situation within my own practice, within my professional field, within my community and within larger eco-societal contexts. I need to be able to read and respond, engage in the kinds of relationships I wish to weave. As an artist, I may well be an improviser, but my not-knowing-beforehand cannot afford to be naive. As Joao Da Silva poignantly articulates it, "one must understand the conditions in and under which one exercises one’s agency. Only then does one become able to rehearse the adjustment of these conditions according to one’s own terms, in turn enabling the imagination or speculation of a logic beyond that of ‘performance’ that is, to be efficacious and to innovate.” *)

In addition to “gaining more agency” as performers or dancers through rationalizing our artistic thought processes via giving lectures on politics, mythologies and art histories, we suggest that we reach out, speak out and think through and from within our own practical expertise: Teach ourselves to read and respond from within the artistic perspective.

The way in which for example dancer-researcher Chrysa Parkinson describes perception and giving attention as the artistic material of a dancer, is of great use here. Attending to perception gives us more nuanced understanding about how the materialization of actuality as a specific formation, quality or articulation takes place. Attending to the embodied perception is valuable, especially when trying to understand the tacit and personal aspects of all “objective knowledge”: The ways in which the proximal term is assembled has an effect on how the world is viewed and sensed. Changing the perception is essential when creating alternative world(view)s and other/different kinds of performances.


Taking responsibility for future spaces and future times requires us to really dive deep into the art of perception. Consciously chosen perceptions enable specific kinds of readings. Skilled, creative reading creates articulated embodiments and responsibly graphing movements.

PS. A workshop-weekend coming up! During a weekend long workshop (25th-26th of September) we will especially concentrate on the notion of artistic perception and the act of reading. Two-day-workshop consists of 3 hour lecture-workshops given by artist-researchcers Chrysa Parkinson and Simo Kellokumpu.

more info on how to join the worksop-weekend, coming soon!

*) Joao Cerqueria Da Silva Junior (2017), “Reflections on Improvisation, Choreography and Risk-Taking in Advanced Capitalism”, Uniarts Helsinki, p.29

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