Silence Ensemble – In Between Silences

Research project (2015-) by Kirsi Heimonen, Petri Kaverma and Anu Vehviläinen

Introduction

In Between Silences is a multi-disciplinary project of three art forms: dance, music and visual arts. The initiative for the project came from dancer-scholar Kirsi Heimonen, who asked two other artist-researchers, pianist Anu Vehviläinen and visual artist Petri Kaverma, to explore the notion of silence.

The institutional support for collaborative art praxis inside the University of the Arts Helsinki was behind this collaboration. Our research question was: How do we experience and understand the notion of ‘silence’ in art making, what is it to work in and through silence? Instead of using theory as a starting point (silence is scattered in various theoretical approaches, f.ex. in phenomenological approach, the silence of language as well as the ontological conditions of silence are discussed), we wanted to explore other ways of asking: we used directly our praxes, yet acknowledging that each art form has theory in itself. We consider this a fruitful approach for artist-researchers: bringing our three art praxes together was surprising and revealing for us. And it gave us new knowledge.

To deal with such a broad and vague notion (silence), we needed something to ground our collaboration, and thus we started by being quiet for a few minutes in the beginning of our first session. This experience was rewarding since it supported our intention to form questions.

Also, we wanted to put the demand of aiming for artistic results aside; there was no urge to create collaborative or beautiful/provocative art. The idea was simply to let our praxes interact in a shared space through silence. The mutual trust created in our sessions enabled us to look at our own genres in a different way. Time frame as well as an inner structure for each session were needed to support our emerging collaboration.

We arranged altogether seven practice-based sessions during the spring of 2016. The first session took place at the end of 2015. During the following spring semester (2016), we gathered for six more sessions. After starting every session with an informal discussion, we used the following format:

  • Silence 10–20 min
  • Praxis 30–40 min
  • Writing 20–30 min

Sometimes we made notes after the ‘silence’ part as well since we wanted to capture as much information on our experiences as possible. At the end of each session, after the ‘writing’ part, we again had an informal discussion on how to proceed.

Contact information for the project

    • Kirsi Heimonen

    • University Researcher, Taiteellisen tutkimuksen tk CfAR, University of the Arts Helsinki
      Visiting researcher, Tutkimus Teatterikorkeakoulu, Theatre Academy
    • +358504718565

Project name

Silence Ensemble – In Between Silences

Time

01/2015

Funder

University of the Arts Helsinki

Team

Kirsi Heimonen
Petri Kaverma
Anu Vehviläinen

Lead organisation

University of the Arts Helsinki