We are happy for being granted the AVEK Award 2012. AVEK Award is the main prize of media art in Finland, and it is given once a year for an artist / artist group. AVEK is The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture in Finland. If you are interested, have a look to the jury´s statement below.
AVEK media art award 2012 / Jury’s statement
The AVEK award 2012 will be granted to the artist couple Tellervo Kalleinen (born in 1975 in Lohja) and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen (born in 1971 in Dresden).
Their productions combine media and social art with performance art, into pieces that move between everyday life, utopia and fantasy. One of the most central themes of their production work is the treatment and unwinding of the tension between an individual and their community. The production method of the couple is one of participation: Their art pieces are created in cooperation with various diverse communities and collectives. Quite often, the production process channels the negative experiences of the participants into positive energy through the use of improvisation and play.
The most renowned art piece by the Kalleinen couple is the Complaints Choir project, which, after first touring Birmingham (2005), Helsinki and Saint Petersburg, has been organised in almost one hundred cities, on every continent. In a Complaint Choir, a group of citizens compile together injustices, which are then composed into a choir piece that will be performed forcefully in the middle of the city. The popularity of Complaints Choir came as a surprise to its creators: The choir piece performed in Birmingham, “I want my money back, which was shared on YouTube, and the demand for organising such choir pieces grew rapidly. As befits community art, the creators published the concept to be freely used by all those interested, and now, DIY complaints choirs are being organised all over the world.
The “Personal is political” motto seems to be a good description for the projects by the Kalleinen couple, but, at the same time, they are moving towards the opposite direction by looking for personal interpretations for traditionally political forms. For example, in the Puhekaraoke (Speech karaoke) project (2011) by The Speech Karaoke Action Group, political speeches are visualised on a video and recited by the participants. This extreme individualism of political actions is also represented by micronations. The Summit of Micronations at the Amorph! festival in 2003 was, in fact, where the cooperation between Kalleinen and Kochta first started, as they curated the summit together. The YKON artist collective, specialised in utopic thinking, was also launched in connection with the summit. Kalleinen and Kochta are founding members of the collective. In addition to the micronation theme, YKON’s work includes participating future games, in which the artists imagine alternative realities.
In their movie production, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kallinen combine the methods of fiction and documentation with a participating method of production. I love my job (2012) is a satire on working life, filled with dark humour. The participants of the project were requested to direct short films about their actual work experience nightmares – and to write an imaginary ending for the story. People in White (2011), produced in Netherlands, compiles the experiences of patients in a psychiatric hospital into a document. The patients themselves act both as the patients and their caretakers, which paints a shocking image of the micro level power relations in a welfare society.
These productions depict the extraordinary skill of their creators to build trust with their participants and create a frame in which a participator can let go, unburden and share their most painful personal experiences. The entire production by this couple could be called a “social media”, in the true sense of the word – they are about creating empowering, collective experiences, as well as the related ethical responsibility.
The pair is currently in the middle of a very active phase and their art pieces are touring the world. In Finland, Puhekaraoke (Speech Karaoke) and News Transformation Agency by the YKON collective were recently seen during the Helsinki Festival. In October 2012, the production Archipelago Science Fiction will have its premiere. It has been written in cooperation with people from Turku Archipelago and its theme is the future of the archipelago 100 years from now.
Chairman of the jury