Abyss: Splinters in the Depths is continuation of the event God: Hidden Circle (2015) and precedes the festival Self as the Third (2017). These three Là-bas festivals halt the current of culture and art in order to force ontological-theological understanding upon the questions and the essence of art, without which culture is incapable of self-reflection, rebirth or renewal.
Abyss – the situation in which the sign, the signifier and the signified are cut off from each other and their relations severed – reigns supreme where ecstasy of communication accelerates and the media eradicates the social as post-human subjects hover freely over the depths, rooted out from their ground, even as our virtual economy simultaneously collapses into the real.
Existing in the abyss left behind after the disappearance of humanity is not, however, a destiny of any historical epoch, but merely lapsing willingly into a trap, outside of which one can step at any time. As a living metaphor the Abyss festival is inverse to the kind cultural logic that leads into nothingness. Its ethos lies in regaining significance and recapturing meaning.
Art does not have to diminish into the abyss that is advertised as reality and fate. It can build bridges over it so that the abyss overcomes itself in the life-world of performances, the path shared by the artists and the audience going on ledges auguring spiritual repentance and change.
The program of the Là-bas→ Abyss: Splinters in the Depths festival is built on and constructed as a dialogue of conceptual, corporeal and technological dimensions in Helsinki, Tampere and Pori during the period Friday 13 to Saturday 21 May 2016. In the discussions, held in Helsinki and Pori, examine the border connections of performance and media art, especially the situation, where performance either diversifies into electronic environments or is altogether replaced by electronic presence and presentation.
The organisers of the Abyss festival, including Perfo! and T.E.H.D.A.S. in Tampere and Pori, have taken upon this task on the basis that performance art remains essentially social, communality, connective and communicative art, whose strength comes from living and floating dialogue of action and events on different platforms. Real communality is transforming because it is based on total openness to being, not objectification and serialisation of experience.
Therefore the primary aim of the festival is not to help maintain any kind of Finnish or international performance art culture or discussion about its preservation for future generations (what future generations? – in this day and age, this question has to be asked). The heavy productions of art machinery and the general hysteria of organising and curating accelerate well enough even as everything else in the surrounding society is being diminished, impoverished and abolished. Polarisation belongs to the abyss.
Là-bas→ Abyss does not represent the abyss; it reflects the abyss.