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Aukeama - Opening space

Aukeama - Opening space is a multi-stage body of work and a process that started publicly with an open invitation letter in December 2022. I sought volunteers to join the process, who were interested in working with the theme of navel gazing, touch and movement as part of a group and sharing the practice in the form of a public performance as part of the Kuvan Kevät 2023 exhibition. From more than twenty interested applicants, 10 people were selected for the group. Five of them are performing in the Napapiiri - Navel Circle performance.

My interest in the navel has its roots in working with the mouth. I have been developing a practice around the mouth by collaborating and working independently with the theme since 2018. I made mouth sculptures in the fall of 2022 in a mold making and casting course as a part of my MFA studies. In there I pondered what other opening of the body I would dare to explore in the context of the course. I ended up asking a new school mate and course assistant if they could make a mold cast of my navel. They agreed, and what happened to me during casting on an experiential level gave impetus to the Aukeama - Opening space. In the casting, the touches of different materials, as well as those of my schoolmate, on and around my navel, generated remarks both of sculpture as a touch-based practice and of the navel as a special but unarticulated experiential place in the body.


I ended up making an open invitation letter because I wanted to explore what kind of relationships other people have with that part of the body. At the end of January 2023, the first collaboration phase of the project started as part of the Time and Space department’s exhibition, where I met the group for the first time. At the meeting, we talked about the framework of the collaboration and did a navel exercise with my guidance. In addition to the joint meeting, I met each member of the group for a navel mold casting, where we discussed, among other things, the memories associated with the navel and the role of the navel in each person’s life.


The navel sculptures on display in the installation at the Kuvan Kevät exhibition are mainly casts done of molds taken in January but there are also a few sculptures that were created in the earlier stages of the process. In addition to the group members, there where also other volunteers participating in the mold castings that took place at the exhibition in January. At that time the decision was made about the anonymity of the navel sculptures. In my work, it is important for me to consider the ethics of creating, the relationships of power and responsibility, and the conditions in which art is made. In the case of Aukeama - Opening space, I was thinking about what the thesis context could enable. In addition to research, I ended up thinking about doing my thesis from a social perspective, where the emphasis was on the safety of working with one’s body from the perspective of sexual and gender minorities. The decision to frame the target group to sexual and gender minorities came from the desire to open space for myself and other queer people to come together as bodily beings and to create a shared space to explore the navel from singular experinces and shared practices, delineated by the safer space guidelines, among other things. During the spring, there were a total of thirteen gatherings named as workshops. In addition to which there will be three performances, where we as group share the findings of the workshops with the public.

Convener of the project: Lin Da
Sculptures, texts and sound design of the installation: Lin Da
Audio technical assistance and co-sound designer for the installation: Frank Rizzo


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