Helinä Hukkataival: Artist´s Statement


Lives and works in Tampere, Finland

Performance, installation, and painting are the mediums I am working with presently. Since 1990 performance has been the most important of them.

Performance has to me two different concepts.

Being always pre-considerated, I the performance as a visual act; a 3- dimensional image in time with movement and sound, or an interactive happening between some voluntary passer-by and me. In both cases personal presence is a prerequisite. The setting for my performance is often an installation, which also can work on its own e.g. "Bubble Chapel" (Jyväskylä, Helsinki 2001, Tampere 2000).

My way of performing has been influenced by 11 years of practise in Tai Chi and Zen meditation. The minimalist style of Zen aesthetics and the way of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony has always appealed to me, and that can be seen in several of my works. I also recognise some similarity of ideas to Fluxus as it has been pointed out to me, especially when turning very ordinary materials and waste into small pieces of art during some performances. For example: chewed gum ("Pure Art", Mainz, Lappeenranta 2001; Oslo, Helsinki, Mänttä 1997) and the trash people have in their pockets and handbags ("Trash Art", Darmstadt 2002; Lahti 2000; Helsinki 1999; Bern 1998).

The ideas for performances often come from everyday objects or actions: chewing gum, hammering, whipping cream, knitting... Sometimes they come from childhood memories like washing away the word GOOD, that I - being about 8 years old- had written with white chalk and very big letters on the wall of our apartment house. ("Shame", 1999 Helsinki). Sometimes the space and situation give the inspiration ("Mother of Lemminkäinen, Sammatti1999; " Hiroshima 50" Tampere 1995).

In many performances I have had interactive elements, and some have been completely based on interactivity (e.g. "Trash Art", "Pure Art"). Because these performances are totally dependent on voluntary participation in order to happen at all, they can be going on for hours, days or even weeks and can be repeated in different public places.

Since I see the performance as a picture in which, like in a painting, every detail influences the whole; I try to control the visual and the sound elements as much as possible. I do not use words -I am not an actor - except in the interactive performances, where I talk with the participants. I want to reduce all unnecessary movement from my performances. I like them to be short, condensed and their duration has been usually 10 -20 minutes. Sometimes I have compared my performances to rituals, forgotten long ago or to dreams shared by the spectators. Thus the performances can have surrealistic elements, and as dreams, they are open to interpretations.

Many of my performances have been sitespesific ("Long Line", Mänttä 2001;"Labyrinth", Tampere2000; "Shame"1999, "From the Diary of a Gardener ", Mänttä 1995). I have also taken part in a community art project in 2001, when being an artist in residence in Rauma.

In my recent series of paintings (mixed media: gouache and pastel) I have tried to catch the feeling of sincerity and innocence we sense in children, when they are absorbed in playing or are committed to learn something. In order to accomplish this I use a childlike way when drawing figures. In these works one can also find some relatedness to comic strip frames. The figures and the elements of everyday life I have combined with compact areas of intense colour.