You situate Astral Projections between dream and fiction. What is your understanding of dreams and fiction (and sleep)?
This thought came to me when I realized how the immersiveness of the entertainment I consumed through streaming services and gaming consoles was so pervasive that it started affecting the logic in which I dreamed during nighttime. The way in how today’s games and tv-series are based on getting the consumer so hooked in the worlds that they create, makes it possible to spend hours and hours engaged in these fictional universes, while the physical body is sitting or lying passively on a couch. For me it feels hard to relax without a digital device and it creates a strange paradox where one spends most of their waking life either working or taking it easy in front of a screen. As many people working in front of screens know, this also often causes insomnia.
It was a time of my life, I was almost addicted to digital entertainment in order to relax, among work and personal troubles, I started to keep a dream diary. I soon realized that versions of these game and tv-show characters were appearing in my sleep, entangled with ambiguous feelings and sensations often present in dreams. It felt as if my body was being abducted by fictional people and places that some other person had made up. Since I think dreams are some sort of subconscious reflection on what one experiences during the day, I couldn’t help to think how much our worldview has changed trough these digital realms that keep our eyes locked to the blue light.
The idea of body abduction, or other bodies being present in dreams, was one of our interests from which we started the process Astral Projections. While creating the movement material with Sanna Blennow, we were taking references from play-station games but also being strongly affected by the deeply personal material inhabiting our dreams. In the performance, we decided that we want to keep the fictional references as a backdrop, or something that might appear and reappear in the body rather than depicting them as such.
Could you tell more about your decision to work with the format of a performance-installation?
The work was originally made for Forum Box gallery, following the opening hours of an art exhibition. The process of documenting dreams was a long-term accumulation of inner material and was in itself proposing a temporality that wasn’t tied to a regular 45 min to 1-hour black box time frame. I was also interested in experimenting with different materials, lights and sound and creating with the space in mind. The movement material that came up from our experiments, was about slowly entering different states through meditative scores and it became clear quite fast that it called for duration. So, we wanted to put ourselves in the situation of really spending time at the gallery, letting our bodies go through long lasting and phased transformations. The first version of Astral Projections was an installation containing objects and sound where the space was activated for 2-3 hours each day by the performance. The version that we present in Moving in November is focused on the performance part, but still leaves an openness for the participants to experience the space and the bodies populating it at their own pace.
Astral Projections premiered shortly before the first lockdown in 2020. How was it for you to show the work in this moment and how is it for you to take it back now?
It was absurd. We opened Astral Projections at Forum Box gallery on Friday the 13th of March 2020. The exact date when the news broke about growing infections in Finland and everyone started realizing that the seriousness of the situation. The gallery was still full of people then but the remaining two performances before lockdown were really empty. People were too scared to go anywhere. It felt as if the whole world around us had shut down and we were just dancing by ourselves in an empty gallery. There was something comforting and therapeutic in it though, as if it was the last dance before the apocalypse or something.
To get back to it, feels like doing an old and a new piece at the same time, since the piece premiered a long time ago but never really finished the process of going through the performances and in a way growing through them. It feels like the 1,5 years in between happened in another reality and there’s a weird sense of nostalgia in doing the piece again. Maybe because the whole process of Astral Projections happened when we had no idea that a world changing pandemic is going to happen. At the same time, because of the unfortunate timing of its premiere, to our working group Astral Projectionswill probably for a long time be associated with the beginning of Covid-19.
This interview was conducted around July-August 2021.
Photo: Anna Autio