25 AUGUST | 16:00–17:00

Selfportrait – Dreams of the Life and Art of Ellen Thesleff

Anu Almagro, Johanna Jauhiainen, Jaana Kurttila, Pauli Lyytinen, Janne Teivainen, Hanna-Reetta Schreck

Photo: Ulla-Mari Lindström

Selfportrait Dreams of the Life and Art of Ellen Thesleff is a dreamlike performance based on the artist Ellen Thesleff’s (18691954) life and work. The performance follows Thesleff’s handwritten letters and pieces of art at the brink of imagination and remembrance.

We, as a team of artists, reimagine her artistic and emotional being through all the dimensions of her expression: painting, writing and music. Our aim is to awaken Thesleff’s expressions lines and strokes by bringing them to life on the stage through the actors’ movements and sounds. We create a void, an echo, with an intent to catch the ripples of the echo of Thesleff’s being. 

The shape and the structure of the scenery and staging leave space for the audience’s imagination and reflection. 

Thesleff prepared her drawing Selfportrait (18941895) for a year. In the drawing, she looks straight at the viewer, leaving no other option but to fall into the void of her deep gaze and be fulfilled. The drawing inspired us to create new lines on stage, as if they were sketches based on her letters and paintings. Between us, Thesleff herself and her contemporaries exists a void made of time. 

Thesleff travelled by train from Italy to Finland through the troubled and war-torn Europe of World War I (in the spring of 1915). Did the experience of the war not draw a line strong enough, leave a scar deep enough?

Then why should we remember? Art and cultural historian Hanna-Reetta Schreck reminds us that the future lies in the way we do or do not remember and understand the past. Our reflections on Thesleff’s life and work create a bodily and imaginative remembrance that stretches back in time so that we can reach out into the future. “Selfportrait Dreams of the Life and Art of Ellen Thesleff” was first a vision created by two actors, Johanna Jauhiainen and Anu Almagro, to realize a dream-like theatrical staging based on the life and art of the artist Ellen Thesleff. Performance draws on the research conducted by art and cultural historian Hanna-Reetta Schreck on Thesleff. Schreck is now finishing her Ph.D. studies on the life and work of the artist at the University of Turku . This artistic and academic study on stage is part of her final thesis. Schreck also appears in the play. Musician Pauli Lyytinen paints Thesleff’s reality with his live electro-acoustic music. Stage designer Jaana Kurttila and light designer Janne Teivainen create the dream-like world on stage using light, costumes and video.

Pauli Lyytinen (left), Anu Almagro, Hanna-Reetta Schreck, Johanna Jauhiainen. Photo: Lauri Schreck
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