Jarkko Lehmus Blog: Agitator Borealis

Reaching for something better - Jarkko in a performance of <I>Re-Touch</I>.<br />© Jukka Kontkanen. (Click image for larger version)
Reaching for something better – Jarkko in a performance of Re-Touch.
© Jukka Kontkanen. (Click image for larger version)

Agitator Borealis

It’s a Saturday evening after a 40-hour work week. Moran’s Da entstünde ein Engel is on repeat in the headphones, the girlfriend has hit the town with her fine behind squeezed into a pair of drainpipes, the chicken is overcooking in the oven, I should sleep, the booze is expensive, autumn is coming, this is Helsinki and it has been a long while since I’ve been fondling the keyboard with an intention to blog. For the past couple of years all manner of other urges and needs, paraphilia only occasionally being one of them, have been riding roughshod over the time earmarked for blogging. Until now. Tan-tan-taa… The time has come! On this fine evening I make a solemn promise to squeeze out a monthly blog from this day on until I kick the bucket or the editor tells me to shove my filthy scribblings back to which ever orifice they oozed out of. It is a distinct possibility  – this might all end before it even restarted. Maybe this won’t even get published. Great… Well… At least it’ll be fun to write this anyway! A sort of a twisted diary of selected truths and utter nonsense. A pseudo-documentary of my artistic life for my own amusement. Therapeutic and groovy. Happy days! On the other hand there is a possibility that Mr Marriott might let me carry on carrying on… Err… That would make this a pseudo-diary of my artistic life for your amusement. Disturbing and unintelligible. Happy days in any case!

First things first: during my absence from the blogosphere I have got supported beyond better judgement, been delusional, got let down, tried to become a better man, got unfit, got desperate, got fit, had tough times, got stupidly lucky, found a better half, moved to Finland, went through memories I didn’t know I had, sold a motorbike, got work, got injured, decided not to be operated on, did yoga, carried on, bought a motorbike, had a holiday, sold a motorbike, learned to love and be loved, got perspective, started to sort my life out, learned to co-operate, got busy, got creative, realised I had something to give, got invited into a residency, scratched the surface of shooting and editing video, asked the right/wrong question and learned the bare basics of programming lights, had a stupid schedule, created a dance piece, edited sound with the accuracy of a sledgehammer, got fitter, got politically active, directed and choreographed a mini-opera about the Antichrist, met the cultural minister of Finland twice, performed at the Joyce, learned to appreciate friends, became the Vice President of the Union of Dance and Circus Artists of Finland, ended up on the boards of three non-profits, decided to try to keep the artistic works I had created alive as long as possible, got two artistic grants, decided to explore alternative methods of funding, felt like a fraud with a sorry little selection of tools, decided to study more, bought a motorbike, got my hands dirty, “enjoyed the summer” on a pebble beach, had a silly idea that some people thought was great, struggle to balance work and life, should sleep more, want to do better. And maybe, just maybe, have become something different. That’s it in a nutshell. I have most likely forgotten something, but I doubt it  matters much. I doubt much of anything matters much when it’s put into perspective.

It's been a long ride and it ain't over yet.<br />© Jarkko Lehmus. (Click image for larger version)
It’s been a long ride and it ain’t over yet.
© Jarkko Lehmus. (Click image for larger version)

Now that we (We? Err… The King of Planet La-La?) have got that out of the way and have mentioned the word “perspective” a couple of times, I’d like to talk briefly about small communities and how people tend to lose, or never develop, that aforementioned perspective while living or working in one. Let’s start with Finland for example, a country with 5.4 million inhabitants and the fifth largest land mass of all European countries. Plenty of space for everyone to do whatever they please. As long as they are like the rest of us, stay in their place, whinge politely while taking it up the sh**ter and won’t try to do anything too outlandish or make too much noise. Or ask too many questions. Or try to jump the queue that we think we are in. Or don’t take things deadly seriously. What a fun place to mess around in! What a great country with amazing possibilities and frustrating deficiencies. What a great place to get away from and come back to! Oops… Got carried away. Small communities. Stay with the programme! If an entire small village only ever hang out with each other in the same bar they are bound to wake up next to their sister or brother sooner rather than later. Not good for the development of the immune system. Neither is it good for developing a rounded view of the surrounding world or creating unexpected and creatively fruitful new synaptic connections. In other words: closed circles limit creativity. As good as it was for an ape to go for a little walk on the savannah it’s equally as good for us right now to dare to get out a bit, challenge ourselves, take risks, put ourselves in situations and environments we don’t have a clue about and try to understand and evolve. Learn to tolerate, learn to learn, learn to think laterally or at least pop over to the next village for a drink on occasion.

'Nuff said.<br />© Jarkko Lehmus. (Click image for larger version)
‘Nuff said.
© Jarkko Lehmus. (Click image for larger version)

If the topic of small communities was straight ahead I clearly wrote laterally right past it. Maybe I’ll write circularly back towards it at some point in the future. In one of the possible futures. Sod knows.

Right now I feel like thanking Mr Moran for creating beautiful music, Mr Johnson for being a lighting genius, Mr Starr for taking lovely photos and all you crazy people who have had belief in me. The long game is where it’s at and I’ve got juice again for decades to come. Unless I degenerate into a bubbling pool of primordial goo during one of the Degeneration von einem Engel gigs (looping the same nine-minute solo for hours on end) during this autumn. I guess that would constitute a success through repeated failure. If I fail to fail over these 20 hours during the autumn I aim to keep trying to fail for longer in the future. Possibly in a gallery near you. Anyway… Same, same. Different.

I don’t know. It’s all so ridiculous. This dancing thing. It’s even more ridiculous if it’s not the most important thing in the world when you’re doing it. In my opinion the height of ridiculousness is reached if one can’t laugh at the ridiculousness of one’s own seriousness. During that endless cycle of amusement I’ve ended up with a thick slab of a CV with anything from commercial dance and musicals to conceptual performance art and ballet in it and a stack of press mentions to pad it up. I feel like I’ve barely started! I feel like I only know enough to know I know nothing. Does the whole dancing thing really matter at all? It does. It matters when an audience member says in an after-show talk that “This piece was necessary.” Those fleeting moments matter to me. The effect that a performance or an art work has on the people experiencing it matters. The moments that change us as people towards something different. Hopefully something better. I want to be able to create and facilitate those moments. I want to be a better man and leave behind a better world than I found. Many people might not agree with me about what is better. That’s fine by me. I don’t know what really will be better anyway. I can all but try to do what I feel is right and put together a few words about the process/ensuing mess. That is what this blog will be about: the world and the way it should be according to yours truly.

That’s the plan for the future, but right now it’s September. The summer ended 37 minutes ago. Time to hit the hay, for tomorrow is a busy day off with a lazy morning (Yes. Those need to be scheduled in nowadays.), two stripped motorbikes, mechanical mishaps, a couple of beers and some family time. Just what is needed to clear the mind before another towering week of this utterly, exhaustingly, laughably amazing adventure.

About the author

Jarkko Lehmus

Jarkko Lehmus trained at the Finnish National Ballet School and at Millennium Performing Arts in London eventually becoming an award winning soloist at Scottish Ballet. He was also well known for blogging on Balletco.

Now freelance and based in Finland he has worked with Tero Saarinen Company, Susanna Leinonen Company, Finnish National Ballet, David Hughes Dance Company, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, Arc Dance Company among others. In his own artistic work Jarkko concentrates on spatial imagination, the physicality of emotions and kinesthetic empathy. He is on Twitter @LehmusWorks and his home on the web is: www.lehmus.works.

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