slow-sex-death-drive is work-in-progress performance of a long-term project that will eventually lead to a performance in May 2023 by Ala-Ruona and a working group.
Slow-sex-death-drive continues Ala-Ruona’s artistic somatospeculative research around endocrine disruptive hormones caused by environmental toxicities and their contextualisation with trans embodiment. Slow-sex-death-drive discusses technosexuality, technomasculinity, car culture and petrochemical pollution. All of these areas orbit erratically around Ala-Ruona’s loss of his father to lung cancer. Ala-Ruona questions why ecology research that frames trans embodiment as an abnormality caused by environmental toxins get more sensationalist attention than the research done on the lethal effects of environmental toxicities? Slow-sex-death-drive speculates complexly on the relation between trans masculine body and a car:
“If my body was trans due to environmental toxicities, then could I look at the car — the main symbol of human caused pollution — as my techno-toxicological parent? Also, how does the desire for my own technological transition translate into technosexual desire? And how is all of this in relation to my body living with the loss of my father, the cyborgian car-man that he was?”
Performances: Baltic Circle -festival. Helsinki. 2021
Deep Time Trans is a performance traveling through time to the non-binary nature of prehistory and the birth of life.
The performers navigate deep in the depths of time, looking backwards from the present moment to four billion years ago, to wonder at the pleasure-filled foundlings of evolution.
The performance is about transformation, many returns to water, a love for protoplasm, symbiotic living, and breathing to the rhythm of underwater pulses.
Evolution is queer.
The members of the DTT working group have a background in performance, visual arts, and live action role-play. Their artistic endeavours traverse, e.g. trans and queer history, speculative fiction, ecology, somatics, and geology.
Through play, LARP, touch, and discussions, the group asks how we can comprehend evolution in a way that would dismantle cis and heteronormativity, and not conform to a binary perception of gender.
Concept, text and performer: Teo Ala-Ruona Concept, text and dramaturgy: Even Minn Text and performer: Camille Auer Costume design and performer: Alvi Haapamäki Set design: Eeti Piiroinen Sound design: Satu Kankkonen Performance dramaturgy: Emil Santtu Uuttu Light design: Olivia Pohjola Larp-designer: Pihla Lehtinen Producer: Riikka Thitz
Production: Baltic Circle, Even Minn & Teo Ala-Ruona, Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy Supporters: Alfred Kordelin Foundation, Kone Foundation Residencies: Ehkä-production / Kutomo, Saari residency In cooperation with: Mad House Helsinki
Lacuna is an autofictional horror story that invites the audience into a void inside the performers body. It composes ghostly experiences into a verbal and musical incantation. The piece grows in time by playing with various images emerging from the past, that are being conjured on the stage through movement, speaking and screaming.
The performer speaks about bodily experiences, through which a portal is opened to the insides of the body: carnal visions, through the skin, entering the orifices and falling into an abyss. There, a collection of memories, abjects, trauma, and the possibility of rebirth, is preserved. Together with the audience, the performer moves in and out of his own body as if trying to fill and empty it at the same time, looking for a loving way to exist in it.
Performance: Teo Ala-Ruona Text: Teo Ala-Ruona and Tuukka Haapakorpi Sound design and composition: Tuukka Haapakorpi Dramaturgy: Ami Karvonen Light and spatial design: Sofia Palillo Production: Ehkä-production, Mad House Helsinki and Teo Ala-Ruona Supported by: Arts Promotion Centre Finland Premiere: 3.12.2021 XS festival / Contemporary art space Kutomo, Turku Language: English Duration: approx. 60 min
Remnants was an installation consisting of a text and sculptures made out of plaster, sand, iron and teeth.
The piece was part of a group exhibition Fantasy 1&2, curated by Saara Hannus.
Text in the installation:
ME: “Let me see you opening up your wiggling surface and wet bogholes. You’re taking in bodies. You can satisfy, dominate and caress all of us at the same time, and I tell you that you’re my master, my daddy and domme.”
THE SWAMP: “Yes, I like it when you tell me that.”
ME: “I’m making love to you, your flora, fauna and your bogbodies, that have remained inside of your oxygenless conditions better than the bodies that are buried in the ground. Some of those bodies have still remnants of soft tissues, like skin and organs. And as I’m making love to you and the ones inside of you, I’m transitioning towards my final fantasy”
THE SWAMP: “I suck you.”
ME: “In the moment, when I learn how to open up myself, I will share my body like a holy supper, I serve it with pride and joy. I don’t die, but I turn into countless lovers without pain. And I choose all of this.”
THE SWAMP: “I think you’re ready.”
THE SWAMP: “Yes.”
ME: “You’re everywhere. I wanna cum in your mouth, on your fingers, your thighs, your chest, your decomposing piles, your bogholes, your vortex. I pour and ejaculate, I cum harder than ever as you’re penetrating my blood vessels.
THE SWAMP: “I’m cutting you up with my maggots and parasites. Your veins pop and you’re wheezing as you’re yelding. I spank you baby, I tie a whip of your intestines and bang you to pieces.”
Performances: SIC space. Helsinki. 2020 Kutomo. Turku. 2021
“Little tentacles tickle me, I stare at the musty red mass of clouds as thousands of lovers worm in my body. Eat me, drink me. I’m being decomposed alive, nutrients release in the soil. I’m a bottom for you all. ”
My flesh is in tension, and I eat it is a performance about a bodily transformation that happens in a polyamorous and polysexual symbiosis with a swamp.
The swamp decomposes and preserves bodies. The swamp is a place, where an ecosystem turns into something else and where bodies integrate and transform under each other’s influence.
The performance is euphoric body horror. It talks about a desire to reshape together with the dirt, to decompose and to transform into a carbon vortex for the Earth.
Length: approximately 1 hour Language: Finnish (a little bit of English)
Working group: Text and performance: Teo Ala-Ruona Dramaturgy: Ami Karvonen & Even Minn Sound design: Satu Kankkonen Costume design and scenography: Alvi Haapamäki Mask: Teo Ala-Ruona & Alvi Haapamäki
Credits: Vocal coaching: Sara Strömmer Videos: Teo Ala-Ruona & Venla Helenius Photo: Nova Kaspia Production: Ehkä-production, SIC-gallery and curator Saara Hannus Help with the lights: Ilmari Paananen
Games are produced in collaboration with Mad House Helsinki. Place and time TBA.
Deep Time Transcestors -larp is a speculative fiction about evolution. The game opens up a multidimensional time-space continuum, in which participants can explore how it feels to embody their trans ancestors’ bodies in this time. A group of trans- and non-binary people have come together to invoke a pre-historic transcestor to take them on a deep time travel to the time when all multicellular life was still under water. They travel through the queer prehistory through somatic and fictive exercises. The aim is to embody the fundamental queerness of evolution, and display the source of life as trans and non-binary.
The player-chatacters study their prevertebrate, throbbing and watery bodies through sense and movement. As the game advances, they form protective hybrid trans ancestor symbionts in physical contact with each other.* The game is mostly non-verbal and centers on movement and touch.
Safer play and other game -techniques will be practiced together in the workshop that starts the game day.
The game is open for transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer players. We do not evaluate whether you are “something enough” – yes you are!
There is room for 12 players.
If the games fill up, and we need to choose players, we will prioritize those who belong to several culturally marginalized groups, to which you may identify upon signing up. Sign up opens up on the 21st of September and closes on the 26th of October. Everyone will be informed about the player selection on the 2nd of November. You will get your character information then too.
You don’t need to have prior experience on larping, and the game doesn’t require a lot of preparation. The characters dress in present day clothes, and the fantasticity of their bodies are not expressed through masking.
Every character has 3 contact characters, for example friends, siblings or partners. We encourage the contact character players to chat briefly about their relationship before the game. When you get your character, you will get easy instructions also on how to do this.
There is a photographer in the game. Being in the photographs is voluntary.
Languages: Finnish and English.
*The game includes touch on the areas of hands and arms. Parts where there is touch, will be played with face-masks on. If the corona-situation in December is more severe, the parts touching mechanics will be replaced with mechanics that allow a safety distance to other players.
Larp design: Teo Ala-Ruona, Even Minn, Pihla Lehtinen Sound design: Satu Kankkonen Costume design: Alvi Haapamäki Artistic and theoretical counsel: Camille Auer, Eeti Piiroinen Dramaturge for dialogue: Emil Santtu Uuttu Producer: Riikka Thitz Photography during larp: Nova Kaspia
The pre-game workshop 11:00 – 14:30 (including lunchbreak) The game: 15:00 – 17:30 Debrief: 18:00 – 19:00
Pelit järjestetään Mad House Helsingin kanssa yhteistyössä. Aika ja paikka ilmoitetaan myöhemmin.
Deep Time Transcestors -larp on spekulatiivinen fiktio evoluutiosta. Peli avaa moniulotteisen aika-avaruuden, jossa osallistujat voivat tutkia, miltä tuntuu ruumiillistaa trans-esivanhempien ruumiita tässä ajassa. Pelissä ryhmä trans- ja ei-binäärisiä ihmisiä ovat kerääntyneet yhteen manatakseen esiin historioiden takaisen trans-esivanhemman, joka vie heidät syväaikamatkalle aikaan, jolloin kaikki monisoluinen elämä oli vielä veden alla. Teos matkaa läpi queerin esihistoriallisen ajan somaattis-fiktiivisten harjoitteiden avulla. Tavoitteena on ruumiillistaa evoluution perustavanlaatuista queeriyttä, ja osoittaa kuinka elämän alkuperä ilmenee trans(ina) ja ei-binäärisenä.
Peli on suurelta osin ei-verbaalinen ja keskittyy liikkeeseen ja kosketukseen. Pelaajahahmot tutkivat esi-selkärankaisia, sykkiviä ja vetisiä ruumiitaan aistien, tunnustellen ja liikkuen, sekä muodostavat hybridejä trans-esivanhempi suojelussymbiontteja fyysisessä kontaktissa toisiinsa*.
Turvallisemman pelaamisen- ja muut tekniikat opetellaan yhdessä pelipäivän aloittavassa workshopissa.
Peli on avoin trans, ei-binäärisille ja sukupuolisopeutumattomille ihmisille. Emme arvioi onko kukaan “tarpeeksi” jotain: kyllä olet!
Pelissä on 12 pelaajan paikkaa.
Jos kaikki ilmoittautuneet eivät mahdu mukaan, osallistujien valinnassa priorisoidaan ihmisiä, jotka kuuluvat myös muihin/useampiin yhteiskunnallisiin marginaaleihin, joista voi halutessaan kertoa ilmoittautumisen yhteydessä.
Ilmoittautuminen avautuu 21. syyskuuta ja sulkeutuu 26.10. lokakuuta. Kaikki ilmoittautuneet saavat tiedon pelaajavalinnoista 2.11. Samalla saatte oman hahmokuvauksenne.
Osallistuminen ei vaadi kokemusta larppaamisesta tai suurta ennakkovalmistautumista. Hahmoille sopivat aivan tavalliset nykypäivän vaatteet, eikä kehojen fantastisuutta ilmaista maskeerauksella.
Jokaisella hahmolla on 3 lähihahmoa, esimerkiksi ystäviä, sisaruksia tai kumppaneita. Kannustamme lähihahmojen pelaajia keskustelemaan etukäteen lyhyesti hahmojen suhteesta. Saatte tähän hahmojen mukana helpot ohjeet.
Pelissä on mukana valokuvaaja. Valokuvissa mukana olo on vapaaehtoista.
Kielet: Suomi ja englanti.
*Pelissä kosketetaan muita pelaajia käsien ja käsivarsien alueelle. Kosketusta sisältävät pelikohdat tehdään kasvomaskit päällä. Jos joulukuussa korona-tilanne on vakavampi, kosketusmekaniikat korvataan välimatkan sisältävillä mekaniikoilla.
Larp-suunnittelu: Teo Ala-Ruona, Even Minn, Pihla Lehtinen Äänisuunnittelu: Satu Kankkonen Pukusuunnittelu: Alvi Haapamäki Taiteellinen ja teoreettinen neuvonanto: Camille Auer, Eeti Piiroinen Dramaturginen dialogi: Emil Santtu Uuttu Tuotanto: Riikka Thitz Valokuvaus larpissa: Nova Kaspia
Teo Ala-Ruona & Venla Helenius Titanik-gallery, Turku 2019
“I want to sing for my friends, here and now, sing so hard that my heart melts down.I want to break myself, and sacrifice everything for them. I want to be broken and just as scattered as I am, and just keep on singing.“ – Ala-Ruona & Helenius
You bring the light is an autofictive ceremony of love dedicated to friends, reaching out from teenage years to infinity. We want to show friendship love as the biggest love of all. It is a fundamental power that supports life, and can accompany you through whatever: the darkest fears, traumas, pain and changes. We couldn’t go on without each other. But then again, we think that friendship can be a harrowing lovestory that includes heartbreaks, possessiveness and fear of losing someone.
You bring the light -exhibition consisted of a love ballad, karaoke-video of the love ballad, photographs, latex sculpture and a video.
“…to try to treat my friends more like my dates — to give
them special attention, honor my commitments to them, be consistent, and
invest deeply in our futures together.” – Dean Spade, For Lovers and fighters
TWAH(=These Worlds Are Here) was a project realised during my stay in Los Angeles in the summer 2019. The project consisted of two consecutive parts, starting with a four-day long writing workshop for trans, non-binary, queer people and women, held in NAVEL. The workshop culminated in an intimate audio and text installation within a mobile Gas gallery.
The workshop allowed participants to LARP (live action role play) queer worlds as they wrote, asking them to experience and embody these imagined worlds at the moment of writing. In the workshop we asked how can we consider writing to be a political tool for naming, re-naming, making visible, audible and felt the dreams that we care for. How can writing be a vehicle—how can it move, touch, orient and re-orient us?
A chorus of words, both written and spoken, by workshop attendees was the basis of the exhibition in Gas’s truck gallery. Listen to the sound piece HERE.
Clay Erotics is an on-going project by Teo Ala-Ruona, Ami Karvonen, Anni Puolakka and lots of clay.
First outcome of the project was a partly improvised, partly planned and thoroughly enjoyed consensual, erotic, sexual and playful performance, that was performed in Wonderlust-festival 2019, in All That Swag -night.
The second outcome of the project was an audio drama Clay Erotics: Forest’s Lap. It is an improvised speech act which fantasizes about clay as a lover. The work was part of Mustarinda online Lichen Fest 2020. Link to the work (in Finnish).
Working group: Teo Ala-Ruona, Ami Karvonen & Anni Puolakka
Performances: Asbestos Art Space. Helsinki. 2019 Human Resources. Los Angeles. 2019 Mad House Helsinki. 2019 Tehdasteatteri. Turku. 2020
“Ages ago, about exactly one week after having Nexplanon removed from the inner side of my left arm, under the skin, I felt how my shoulders widened.
Nexplanon is a birth control implant that releases progestin. It contains 68 mg of the active substance etonogestrel. Synthetic progestin mimics the actions of progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone.”
toxinosexofuturecummings is a bodyfiction about pleasurable sex on a polluted planet. It’s a speech performance of a body making itself with words.
In the performance sex is seen as an evolutionary and developmental process. It opens up a world in which materials and multispecies bodies infiltrate each other, giving and receiving pleasure. The world is thoroughly polluted, but possible, queer and trans.
toxinosexofuturecummings is a performance about an anticipatory and transformational state.
”This is the site. My elbow is holding the floor as if I were underneath it and not on top. This isn’t true, I’m already halfway in a fiction.
Come, darling, come. In certain light, we are here.”
Nowhere in Particular (NIP) was an hour long speech performance, a community of parallel worlds created by writing. NIP was an assembly of transient scenes, landscapes and visions, that came together in a heterogenous stream of words: overlapping, interlacing, amplifying and echoing each other. These words took a form of speech, and were listened by others than their writers. In NIP listeners were invited to traverse through a variety of spoken, fragmented worlds, as well as create new ones in their own imaginations. NIP could be considered both as a demonstration, a frontal performance and a proposal for other kinds of worlds to exist.
The words spoken in NIP had been created in workshops with women, non-binary, trans- and queer people exploring the words’ world-making potential; how can the world of writing be feminist speculative fiction in practice?
Concept and coordination: Teo Ala-Ruona
Words by: Teo Ala-Ruona, Alvi Haapamäki, Venla Helenius, Anni Kaila, Satu Kankkonen, Leena Kuusisto, Milka Luhtaniemi, Daniela Pascual, Gesa Piper, Iona Roisin
Performers: Teo Ala-Ruona, Alvi Haapamäki, Venla Helenius, Anni Kaila, Anna Kankila, Satu Kankkonen, Leena Kuusisto, Inna Lampinen, Nadja Leham, Milka Luhtaniemi and Gesa Piper
Dramaturg: Milka Luhtaniemi
Sound designer: Satu Kankkonen
Lighting designer: Johannes Vartola
Gesa Piper is a German dance-artist and -pedagogue who has worked in many different European countries and the US (New York) in the fields of dance-, interdisciplinary – and performance art. She is based in Helsinki since 2011 where she graduated from the Theater Academy with a Master degree in 2014. She had finished her Bachelor studies in 2008 at the Dance Academy ArtEZ in the Netherlands. Her interests lie within the field of the multiplicity of the human existence in its social and environmental context and her artistic work seeks to investigate those through means of physical expression and embodied inquiry.
Carmen C. Wong is a curiously hungry nomad and performance-maker whose current research explores affective ecologies and sites of belonging within places of food-making, everyday cooking choreographies, and food micro-ethnographies. Her work is usually expressed through participatory performances by, with and around food, its makers, and its eaters. She is interested in investigating through her pedagogy and dialogical practice, the slippery concept of food authenticity vis-a-vis migration, and embodied attentiveness to sensory experiences in the everyday as social practice.
Garden of Others was a collaborative project initiated by Teo Ala-Ruona and Shelley Etkin. It combined both gardening and performance, offering practices for being together, in a squatted garden space near Vantaa river. The garden was made by, framed by and inhabited by the working group and others: rabbits, deers, mosquitos, birds, slugs…
Coming from lineages of guerrilla practices and urban gardening, Garden of Others asked, how can gardening be a feminist practice? What is the role of caring, tending, and stewarding without placing humans at the center? Who constitutes the ‘other’? How might this inform our practices of solidarity, sanctuary, and alternative notions of ownership and influence?
Within the frame of Garden of Others project the working group made one performance action in the garden area, took part in PixelacheEmpathy as Resistance project as well as facilitated a lunch event in the Pixelache Festival 2017. The event was called Lunch as a Temporary Autnonomous Zone, and it included three courses made from the ingredients from the Garden of Others. The lunch was offered for approximately 20 guests.
Working group: Teo Ala-Ruona, Shelley Etkin and various other critters
Performances: Under the bridge of Hakaniemi. Helsinki. 2017
Ksenos was a two week long performance installation taking place in Helsinki, under the bridge of Hakaniemi, inside and next to a parked caravan in August 2017.
Ksenos was: resting, taking care, idling and dreaming about possible feminist future visions. It gave space for lavishing and resting for worn-out, fossil-capitalist bodies. Ksenos was a dream and a proposal of a future. It inhabited a caravan: a surplus of heteronormative and capitalist family narrative.
Ksenos is a word that stems from Greek word Xenos, that refers to a ”stranger” and a ”guest friend”. Stranger refers to something unknown, whereas guest is something that is an expected visitor who is being treated with hospitality. Ksenos thus combines love of the uncanny and expectation towards the unknown.
The performance installation consisted of two parts: the other was a durational and daily performance taking place inside the caravan, and the other a one-hour-long performance taking place outside the caravan, on seven evenings. The performance inside the caravan included two human bodies resting and humming, a video, texts and plants. The performance outside the caravan was a manifest for a future, performed by two performers.
Ksenos performance installation preceded a year and half -long research period focusing on questions around resource thinking and post-fossil speculations. This research period included a reading group and a workshop for public.
Working group and production: Venla Helenius and Teo Ala-Ruona
Supported by: Niilo Helanderin Säätiö and Helsinki University of Arts
The Nonhuman Island was a two-year performative research project that approached nonhuman beings as potential performance makers. In the project nonhuman beings were considered both as collaborators and as independent performers and performance creators. The project asked how can performances happen in nonhumans’ terms, and what kind of performance structures and methods nonhuman beings propose and generate. What kind of changes of perception do these kind of performances create in human beings? Who and what are the audience of nonhuman performances? Can performance happen without any presence or intervention of humans?
The project consisted of three phases. In the first phase, nonhuman beings were approached as equal collaborators in performance making; in the second phase, the working group asked can performances be initiated by nonhumans; and in the third phase, the performances happened (or did not happen) without any human interference.
The research process was shared with audience in monthly events, which included discussions, performances and sharing of working methods and exercises. Events were open for anyone.
The project culminated in a two day seminar in May 2017. The seminar included presentations of artists working with nonhuman performance, discussions and two performances.
Concept and coordination: Saara Hannula
Working group: Teo Ala-Ruona, Saara Hannula, Luka, Minja Mertanen, Linda Priha, Kati Raatikainen, and other (non)human beings
Production: Reality Research Center
The BodyBuilding Project is a shared inquiry into the sensibilities, subjectivities and relational capacities we, as interdependent beings, might beneficially develop in response to the planetary urgencies we currently face. It encourages us to reimagine the propensities currently identified as “human,” and to begin building bodies capable of prefiguring life beyond our collapsing horizons.
The project consists of a perennial artistic research process and a series of public events created collaboratively by a growing body of artists, theorists and practitioners. Our aim is to develop a series of embodied practices that can be sustained both individually and collectively and transmitted in a variety of ways.
Project coordination: Saara Hannula
Working group: Teo Ala-Ruona, Outi Condit, Daria Faïn, Saara Hannula, Ilpo Heikkinen, Robert Kocik, Satu Palokangas, Alan Prohm, Tommi Vasko, Carmen C. Wong (2014–2016); Daria Faïn, Christina Guerrero-Harmon, Scott Elliott, Saara Hannula, Robert Kocik, Elisa Laurila, Riikka Notkola, Alan Prohm (2007–2009)
Visual Material: Saara Hannula and Tommi Vasko
Documentation: Tani Simberg, Christopher Hewitt, Salla Lahtinen and working group
Production: HIAP, Baltic Circle, Kiasma Theatre
Funding: Kone Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland
Guidance was an overnight performance, which invited participants to enter the realm of nonhuman knowledge and guidance. It approached other beings, such as animals, plants, celestial bodies and spirits, as guides, who can show us the way and open up new levels and perspectives in relation to our lives and ways of being human.
The performance lasted for 15 hours and consisted of five acts or steps, which allowed the participant to attune oneself to the world of the nonhuman, to sensitize oneself to its messages and to receive its guidance. The steps were the same for everyone; however, the internal journey of each participant was unique.
The performance was carried out two times in Kattila in Nuuksio National Park in October 2015.
Working group: Saara Hannula, Teo Ala-Ruona, Gesa Piper
Dates: October 3-4, October 10-11, 2015
Images: Saara Hannula
Venue: Nuuksio National Park
Production: Reality Research Center
White Horses was a performance and installation project by Teo Ala-Ruona and Venla Helenius. It consisted of video performances, photos, installations and an online blog. The project dealt with hierarchical relationships between human beings and their surroundings, and various ways of understanding the notion of “freedom” in our society.
The project was realised during 2013 – 2014, during which Ala-Ruona and Helenius interviewed people on the concept of freedom. The outcome of the project was an exhibition, which presented the investigation through a composition of multiple art works. The exhibition was held in B-gallery, Turku.