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Performance LAB XVII: Steve Maher

Performance LAB XVII: Steve Maher

K.E.L.A (Kinaesthetic Electronic Lounging Audio) Therapy – (feat Kim Kuusi)

Kinesthetic Electronic Lounge Audio Therapy featuring Kim Kuusi is an interactive installation and guided participatory performative art work which positions the methodologies employed in pseudo-holistic audio therapeutic practice within the context of the Finnish welfare state’s call waiting service.

Negotiating the Finnish state’s social support system is, from the perspective of an outsider such as myself, surrealistic. Kela’s integration at a social and cultural level is very deeply entrenched, to the point that many Finnish social mores, both professional and personal, are subtly influenced by this national support structure. Kela is undoubtedly a massive cultural influence. Almost every permanent resident of Finland will have to deal with Kela at some point in their lives for the sake of their welfare, either financial or physical. In submitting to Kela, many are subjected to its call waiting music. This composition is by the award winning Kim Kuusi. Many people will associate this music with the sense memory of acute frustration.  The experience is not universal but widely a shared one, with more people potentially familiar with its melody than that of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

– Steve Maher

Kela’s integration at a social and cultural level is very deeply entrenched, it is undoubtedly a massive cultural influence. Almost every permanent resident of Finland will have to deal with Kela at some point in their lives. In submitting to Kela for its services many are simultaneously subjected to its call waiting music, a composition by the award winning comercial composer Kim Kuusi. Many people will associate this music with the sense memory of tedium and acute frustration. The experience is not universal but a widely shared one, with people potentially as familiar with its melody as Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

Call waiting music effectively keeps a caller aware that a connection is maintained while holding them hostage on the line; it is a form of audio acoustic torture involving repetitive low fidelity music which can in some cases be prolonged for hours. K.E.L.A Therapy feat Kim Kuusi appropriates and transforms one such experience of a musical artefact, elevating it through participatory guided performance. The intent is to sublimate this audio torture into a form of recontextualised audio therapy.

Please note: This is a participatory performance, where:

  1. The audience is invited to lay on a customised medical triage gurney. Embedded within the bed are several low-frequency speakers (sub-woofers) which convert audio input into a heavy bass sound physically experienced as sensation within our bodies. The participant is invited to lay on the bed with their phone connected to an inbuilt speaker and microphone system, if they are comfortable with the option, they can also be strapped in. 

  2. The participant is then invited to call K.E.L.A.’s phone services to make a call regarding their personal welfare; the participant is then placed on call waiting by Kela for a limited duration before reaching a service agent. If the participant is wary of calling this service, or for whatever reason does not a have a Finnish social security number, a prerecording of the music is instead played.  While reclined on the bed waiting through their call, they experience physically the music of commercial composer Kim Kuusi. 

The artist hosts the event as a Pataphysicaltherapist, embodying a performative character while also practically running the participatory and technical aspect of the experience.

Steve Maher is an award wining international new media, electronic and relational artist from Limerick, Ireland based in Helsinki, Finland. He is an independent researcher, writer, conlanger, curator and artist.

Maher is the inaugural winner of the Kierran Meagher legacy award, from Limerick city of culture 2014. Maher has represented both Ireland and Finland at International Biennials, including the Moscow Biennale for Young Art V 2016 and STRP Biënnale 2017. Since 2016 he has been touring his project Heavy Metal Detector originally produced by M-Cult(Helsinki) and later featured as part of Abandon Normal Devices 2017. He was producer and co-curator for Pixelache Festival 2019 - Breaking the Fifth Wall.

Maher works across a broad range of topics, at the core of Maher's practice is the exploration of cultural artefacts and rituals. Language is central to Maher's work, both through the dialogical methodologies he implements in his relational projects, as well as in its direct use as a material in his work concerning languages themselves(both constructed and naturally evolved). An important aspect of his work is also the use of technology and its metaphors, Maher is interested in the dichotomy between how science and technology work versus how it they are perceived at a cultural, ideological and social level.

Museum of Impossible Forms is a cultural space, located in Kontula, Helsinki. It is a contested Space and it represents a contact zone, a space of unlearning, formulating identity constructs, norm-critical consciousness and critical thinking. Impossible Forms are those that erase and facilitate the process of transgressing the boundaries/borders between art, politics, practice, theory, the artist and the spectator. For 2019-2020, Museum of Impossible Forms operates under the curatorial theme of ‘The Atlas of Lost Beliefs (For Insurgents, Citizens and Untitled Bodies)’

Museum of Impossible Formsis a safer space. It follows safer space policies to create a welcoming, inclusive, awesome environment.

Events at the Museum of Impossible Forms are completely free and accessible without prior booking.

Museum of Impossible Forms is accessible by lift with thresholds up to 4cm on the way. The toilet has no thresholds but is not spacious enough to meet accessibility standards. The nearest accessible toilet is located at Kontula metro station.

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