The Body and the Other: Lived Impossibilities in Art and Science

The research project aims at outlining corporeal strangeness, focusing particularly on the uncanny (das Unheimliche), as phenomena and as experience.


The research project “Body and the Other” aims at outlining corporeal strangeness, focusing particularly on the uncanny (das Unheimliche), as phenomena and as experience. It is studied through the perspective of the pathic with the investigation directed towards the effects of the unexpected, i.e. strange, and leading thus towards the borders of perception. It also illustrates the ethics and the aesthetics of experiencing strangeness.

Three questions are investigated: what kind of corporeal experience is resulted by strangeness, what kind of understanding of the inter-corporeality is thus created, and how art can function as the paradigm for experiencing the uncanny. The questions are studied in a collaborative process of artistic research and three artistic productions. The intention of the research project is to bring the concept of uncanny forth to the borderlines of scientific and artistic research, and art.

The performing art group Ida ho deals with the residue of humanity, such as filth and the grotesque body. The concept of residue is also in the focus of the artistic work of the group, with which the group aims at unmasking and re-evaluating the prevailing normative discourses and practices related to the body.

Live Artist Teemu Päivinen and his working group engage in processes of community art and Live Art related to hearing voices and experiencing incorporeality. Together the participants observe the strangeness of the uncanny in the movement between the intruding and the invited.

Artist-researcher Leena Rouhiainen and her working group realize a visual audioplay based on the experiences of observing and practising breathing. The working group aims at widening understanding about the suggestibility and intercorporeality related to breathing and to the flowing of air.

Marja-Liisa Honkasalo, cultural researcher promoting the anthropology of vulnerability, studies the experience of strangeness through the movement between absence and presence, drawing parallels between different cultural contexts. Honkasalo participates in the work of the artists of the research group, and studies the aesthesis called forth by the pathic in artistic processes.

Sami Santanen studies the phenomenon of the uncanny with respect to the experience of strangeness that directs the attention to corporality, otherness and in-between. He focuses on the ethics and aesthetics of experience and explores the boundaries of the uncanny that haunt the normal order of the body and the language. Besides art and aesthesis, he refers with aesthetics to the experiences of space and time.

Artists and researchers

Marja-Liisa Honkasalo is a cultural researcher and a medical doctor. In her research her interests focus in the body, the vulnerability and the agency in the contexts of death and illness. The theoretical interests of Honkasalo have centred around pragmatism, phenomenology, and the ethnographic traditions based on these.  She has lately held professor’s titles at the University of Linköping and the University of Turku.

Master of Arts (Theatre and Drama) Irene Kajo is a performance artist and lecturer in theatre pedagogy at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. She has developed artistic activities derived from the unknown as part of the activities of Ida hoo, a performance group working on the fringes of making art.

Read more about Ida ho’s work:

Master of Arts (Theatre and Drama) Teemu Päivinen is a Live Artist and theatre pedagogue, who embraces an interdisciplinary approach in his work in the fields of Live Art and teaching. In addition to the research project The Body and The Other he works within the theatre Höyhentämö in Helsinki. In his art, Päivinen has worked on e.g. the relationship between the human being and the language, and the emergence and loss of the subject.

Dancer, choreographer and researcher Leena Rouhiainen is Professor in Artistic Research within the Performing Arts Research Centre at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. In her previous research she has studied issues related to the performer, corporeality, somatic methods and choreography.

Sami Santanen is an independent researcher in aesthetics and philosophy in Helsinki. Since mid-1980’s he has taught aesthetics and contemporary philosophy at the University of Helsinki, University of the Arts Helsinki and the Aalto University. His interests include contemporary continental philosophy, phenomenology, German idealism, and psychoanalytic tradition. He has studied e.g. the evil, the body, space, aesthetic thinking and the concept of touch.

Background of the research project

The research project is hosted by the Performing Arts Research Centre at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki and led by the responsible leader Professor in Artistic Research Leena Rouhiainen.

Besides Rouhiainen and cultural researcher Honkasasalo, researcher Sami Santanen, lecturer in theatre pedagogy Irene Kajo and performative artist Teemu Päivinen also work in the research project. In addition, artists Julius Elo, Ursula Hallas, Riikka Theresa Innanen, Thomas Hamberg, Miro Mantere, Janne Mäkinen, Satu Mäkinen and Antti Nykyri take part in the artistic working groups within the research project. The international expert in the research project is Professor in Media and Communications Lisa Blackman (Goldsmiths University London).

Project name

The Body and the Other: Lived Impossibilities in Art and Science




Kone Foundation

Find out more

“The Body and the Other” is a continuation of the research project “The Mind and the Other” led by Docent Marja-Liisa Honkasalon at the University of Turku.