By artists Sofi Häkkinen and Miradonna Sirkka
Our Love of Common Things
Football and pasta both have something in common: we use them to make art. We have worked together for 6 years, and our practice is concentrated around these kinds of “daily life” objects. Miradonna has a background in contemporary circus and Sofi in fine (hahaha) arts. Together we are the artistic leaders of the multi-art dream team Recover Laboratory.
We love very common things, like pasta, football, boring moments, and tape. We use them in our practice, glorifying them as objects of art, placing them in situations where they wouldn’t “normally” belong. This is our way of trying to reveal the million different weird sides to daily life. They are hidden under the layers of this numbing, conservative, nine-to-five way of life. Lately Miradonna has been using the ideas of sports in her contemporary circus practice, and Sofi has been building sculptures from dry pasta and hot glue. By picking out mundane things from our existence and placing them on the pedestal of “art”, we aim to tap into some sort of meaningfulness (or the lovely lack thereof) of human life.
For starters, let us tell you a story about sports and orgasms. A few years ago, a friend of ours was at the gym after work, doing some abs training. She was lifting her legs up and down up and down up and down up and down while hanging from the monkey bars, when out of nowhere there was a warm exploding feeling in her lower belly. Suddenly, in the middle of her daily life activities, there was an unexpected orgasm from physical activity, from sports.
We took this story to our hearts, because when we think about it, this orgasm feels like an artwork. It is a perfect metaphor for our artistic thinking. We are messing with daily life, digging into the mundane to find orgasms hidden underneath all the crap. Well, not exactly hidden, rather hiding in plain sight. Too plain to catch one’s attention easily. We need to actively find them. We have fine-tuned our brains to be on alert whenever we are living the daily life. So, almost always…………….
We have found bits of this orgasmic art in football and pasta, for example. We think of it as a sparkle that reveals itself in the process, and is born from a combination of training, thinking, “the state of flow”, and pure luck. First we just struggle and can’t find anything worthwhile or do anything good. It feels like a mess, but then we grind and grind and grind and suddenly we fall into this hole and BOOM!!! We are in the blissful and all-consuming state of flow. And that’s where the the the the the orgasm is, too.
Be Here and There
To be able to fall into that hole in the fabric of time, where the flow and the orgasms hide, we have to face the uncomfortable feelings of boredom, embarrassment and awkwardness (we have actually come to love these feelings… my oh my).
We have found this to be true in both art and sports. You have to train through the embarrassment of not being able to do something. In art school we are taught to remove ourselves from the artwork and take criticism objectively. In sports (and circus art) it is almost impossible because one cannot remove themselves from their body (and it’s limitations). It is also quite impossible in fine (hahahah) art, because one cannot remove their brain from themselves, because come on – that’s where the art trains and lives and has its tiny orgasms. And besides, do we even want to? Another good question is why are we even embarrassed in the first place?? Or are we??? On the other hand we want to harden ourselves with practice and training (in order to be able to – – – -) but on the other hand we do not want to harden our minds (then we won’t be able to – – – -). The classic dilemma of making art! Luckily, we have come to a solution: be here and there at the same time…….. 🙂
In both of these things, art and sports, you need to perform or show something in front of people – and being one of the only animals on Earth that is capable of the feeling of embarrassment, that is of course quite the challenge. To be able to show people one’s sporting skills or one’s art, there has to be lots of confidence (and/or support!). That kinda sucks, because it’s often very scary. In both situations your own body or mind is in the center. It’s your orgasm everyone is inspecting. And because you can’t really escape your own body or your mind, the criticism will always be personal in some way: enter embarrassment and awkwardness.
So, in arts and sports you have to concentrate and let go at the same time. You need to be soft and hard at the same time. You need to be here and there at the same time. Wanna run really fast and also perform some cool football tricks at the same time? Be here and there. Wanna be present in a performance and connect with the audience while also maintaining control and stay on track? Be here and there. Wanna make a sculpture that is both interesting looking and interesting in theory? Be here and there.
The Nothingness before the Kick
Our main collaboration is the Helsinki-based multi-art group called Recover Laboratory. We are the artistic directors of this chameleon group that combines visual arts and contemporary circus with other art forms. We do a lot of site-specific immersive performances with Recover Laboratory (ps. shout out to our experience designer and producer Inna Huttunen, you are the best!!!!).
We collaborate as directors, and Miradonna also performs, and Sofi does visual things for the performances. In these performances, we try to remain as open as possible, and not assume how things will go next. Our philosophy is that first something has to happen, and that will lead to the next move. We try to keep things as open as possible until….. BOOM!
Think about it in the context of football. When you kick the ball, first you hover for a few milliseconds in this nothingness. It’s electric! It is very exciting, this place of “nothingness” where everything is still possible. You are suspended in mid-air, right after you have decided to kick the ball, and just before you physically touch it. Orgasm!!!
That’s a place where we find a hole in reality and time, that is where the art is. Floating suspended in some in-between place, torn between the physical and the mental world. Between the decision and the result. You have an idea to do something (kick!), then you have to be ready to make the move at any time during the process (game!), but you cannot exactly pre-plan the moment. You just kick with intuition.
Like when you are painting and you are deep in that flow, and there is this millisecond of nothingness when you have decided to make a certain move with your hand on the canvas, but you haven’t touched it yet. AAAHH. Or like when you are a performer, and you see a member of the audience enter the installation inside which you are performing – it’s the milliseconds of nothingness before the BOOM.
A Decision for Something is Always A Decision Against Everything Else
The moment of art is the moment of decision. It’s very aware, somehow. The moment when we decide to kick the ball. An artist, then, is the person who has the courage and the idea to kick the ball in the first place. To not only have that orgasm, but to show it to others too. The classic argument against contemporary art is “I could have done that”, and the answer to that is “but you didn’t”. The artist is a record breaker, a person who took the risk of embarrassment and awkwardness, a person who kicked the ball. Haha, this makes artists sound like super humans, but in fact it is a very mundane job. And the best there is! We are mostly bored and then suddenly have huge orgasms. It’s truly a roller coaster!
As a circus artist, one is trained to be comfortable with high places, extreme physical challenges and risks. And as an artist we are trained to be comfortable with the risk of uncertainty and failure. In sports when one concentrates on the physical act, nothing else should exist – only that very moment of action. Everything before and after stops existing. But when art comes into the picture, you want to be aware of the moment and also the before and after, to be able to stay in that suspension. When you hold a bag of pasta in your hand the next time you’re about to cook it, think about it! Just think about pasta 😀 Savour the moment of handling that pasta, look at it, and think about it aaaaaaahhh aaaand CRACK BOOM YEAH! We fell into that hole again, the eternal suspension.
We have decided to be aware of the milliseconds of nothingness in everyday life. We have decided to stay in that suspension, mid-air. It’s all fine tuning. It’s hard. BUT at the same time sports and arts are fun. We are artists, athletes, and pasta sculptors, because it brings us such a unique joy that you cannot find anywhere else. It’s like an obsession. We get an idea and make a decision for it, and then the whole world seems saturated by that idea. That’s all.