Photo: Outi Condit
MA in Dance (Choreography) Simo Kellokumpu’s doctoral research Choreography as Reading Practice will be presented for public examination on Saturday, September 14th 2019 at 12pm.

Choreography transforms into choreoreading in Simo Kellokumpu’s doctoral research

In his doctoral Artistic Research project choreographer Simo Kellokumpu introduces the notion and practice of choreoreading, which brings new perspectives to making choreographic art. His choreographic work genealogically aligns with the place, space, context, and site specific art practices, meanwhile expanding their scale into interplanetary relations.

Simo Kellokumpu is an artist and choreographer who, after receiving an MA in choreography (Theatre Academy Helsinki, 2003), has presented his works broadly in domestic and international platforms. While following this artistic path Kellokumpu realized that his practice started to become meaningless.

“The artistic means that I had incorporated became insufficient to open that choreographic sensitivity that I was interested to develop and share. I realized that the notion of choreography that I had adopted was too narrow, and therefore it was necessary for me to start to critically reexamine the term and to reroute my movement-base artistic practice.”

Kellokumpu´s awareness of a need for change in his artistic practice was the spark to apply for doctoral studies with the aim to re-examine the notions of choreography and movement more closely.

New perspectives to making choreographic art

In his artistic research project Kellokumpu looked into, among other things, the etymology of the term choreography itself and found in this close study a great potential to reroute his practice. One etymological root of the prefix choreo-  “denotes a place where the dance happens” while  -graphy  refers to “writing”. In his artistic research doctorate Kellokumpu has examined how, choreographically, writing and reading operate reciprocally, and what happens when graphing transforms into reading, more specifically to the reading of the surrounding motional circumstances.

“In my work I clarify what does the movement from choreographer to choreoreader mean when it comes to making choreographic art. It includes, among other things, ecological shifts in the process; the movement that moves in my works has shifted from composed material to a phenomenon that escapes control and mastering. Many of my proposals have also become durational, and therefore the relation of my artistic practice with the audience has also transformed.”

Interplanetary pas-de-deux

Simo Kellokumpu situates his art in the field of contemporary art and more precisely in the genealogical course of place-responsive art practices, although the scale of his contextual concern is larger than common apprehension. For Kellokumpu the notions of site, place, and space, as well as the choreographic practice of place-taking, extends to outer space. In this process of amplification, he is interested in the question, how does the notion of ‘place’ operate in art when scales are beyond human understanding.

“The Earth is a place that is in constant movement in many ways and directions. My choreo-orientated artistic thinking and practice is a technique proposed to make sense of this motional place, and to imagine possible and impossible other ways to take place on this planet.”

An example of this endeavor is Kellokumpu’s piece that he realized in 2015. For realizing the installation titled Seasons as Choreographers: Where Over the World is astronaut Scott Kelly? Kellokumpu followed and responded to Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly who spent one year in the International Space Station. When Kelly was orbiting Earth with high speed, Kellokumpu walked calmly around the Theatre Academy, taking the same route during one year as a “failed astronaut”. In one way, the project was Kellokumpu’s and Kelly’s pas-de-deux.

“I collected the material for the work from the orbits of these two duet(tist)s, considering their respective perception and experience of the movements of the Earth. The final artistic outcome opened my practice of earthly spacewalk, which was choreographed by spring, summer, autumn and winter, or, to be more precise, by the movements that cause seasonal transformations in my living earthly environment.”

This and Kellokumpu’s  project’s other artistic parts can be seen in the installation put forth in the Theatre Academy from Sep 6 to Sep 14. Kellokumpu’s public defense will take place in the same space on Saturday Sep 14 at 12.  

Kellokumpu has conducted his doctoral artistic research project Choreography as Reading Practice during 2013-2019 in the Performing Arts Research Center in the Theatre Academy of the  University of the Arts Helsinki. His current artistic work operates in the entanglement of perception and experience of contemporary speculative fiction, interplanetary culture, and queer(ing) space.