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Photo by Marie Haefner
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Photo by Marie Haefner
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Photo by Marie Haefner
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Photo by Marie Haefner
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Photo by Marie Haefner

Lau Lukkarila: Making Trouble and the Privilege of Getting There

October 23, 2019
Text by Eva Steffgen
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Photo by Marie Haefner

Lau Lukkarila talk about the idea of trouble as a privilege, why it is important for them to think with text and their approach to audience and performance.

Lau Lukkarila is a choreographer from Oulu, Finland, who is based in Vienna. In their first solo Trouble at Tanzquartier Wien, they reflected on trouble itself and asked who can actually afford to cause it. An interview by Eva Steffgen with photos by Marie Haefner.

»Trouble« was your first solo. Why did you decide to debut at this time?

The desire was always there, but I thought a lot about disbelieve, a lot about comparison, a lot about seeing certain kinds of performances and dance art represented. Mainly in Europe, but also in Finland, where I come from. Finding that so far away from what I thought I had to offer.

In the past three years, a new place has been established for me. Friends and love, there is a whole support network that influenced me, letting me feel more ready. Because of it, I am not questioning this at all. When the question came up if I wanted to show at Tanzquartier, the answer was immediately yes, even though there was no concept yet. I am ready for this.

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Photo by Marie Haefner

Can you please tell us more about your working process?

For »Trouble« I went through: what are the things that I already think of everyday, that I’m already doing or noticing. What are the books that I’m reading, what the movies I am seeing, what’s the music, that I’m choosing, what has an impact, what feels magnetic to me? Also, what bothers me? I gathered all of this on paper, to see what’s already there and started writing about it. This is how the conceptual part came alive.

As for the movement practice, I really trusted that I knew what to do. It started in a room I was given from Tanzquartier, with a bag of things that I intuitively associated with wanting to work with. The first object which I picked out was a big orange tent. I had not yet a question or maybe the answer, but I knew that it had a symbolic value or a metaphorical container to what I was working on. It was quite a somatic practice, in which I trust the emotional body as a point of reference, which has an impact on me as a sensation and only then as an image and as a dramaturgical choice.

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Photo by Marie Haefner

How important is it for you to base your work on a theoretical or academic background?

I have to confess, that I have a little inferiority complex when it comes to the academic context. I never went to an academic university, and I think I started to have the patience to read books in 2014. I mean I was able to browse a book, but somehow the calmness to sit down and read was maybe once a year. I felt like I had a lot of excessive energy in my body and could not channel it to reading until quite late.

Of course, you are influenced a lot by other things than books, which relate to the academic discourse. You come across human beings, discussions, the internet, YouTube. There’s a lot of channels where one can get information from, but in 2014 I had a feeling that I need words for experiences that seem to matter to me so much like LGBTIQ politics and human rights. It was correlating to a time when i was a bit sceptic about the social political power about performance and dance. This is why I did social work for one year – because it felt like performance art was as a medium somehow not concrete enough. But trough being a social worker, I discovered that I really wanted to perform.

So back to the question, it’s important for me. I’m not saying it’s important in art in general. I’ve realized that thinking with text and relating to it gives my embodied knowledge a framework or support, and that’s why I use it.

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Photo by Marie Haefner

Do you want to oppose your audience, or do you produce your pieces for a certain kind of spectators?

I don’t want to make only art for people who are the same as me. I love to have some queer feminists in the audience, because the work does create a body of communication and a relationship to the people in the theatre. On the other hand, I wish – no it’s not a wish – I like that one piece can give different people different things.

For example, my father came to the premiere of »Trouble«. He and his wife, who when they see art, go to traditional theatres, speech theatre, cabaret or concerts. Formats, that are not so experimental. But they are open minded and really sweet people. He always knew that I was doing something, but it didn’t happen, that he could come and see it. Him being in the audience was a completely new exchange we had and afterwards he was able to somehow see that I needed to do what I needed to do. There is this scene, where there are multiple layers of meaning – of pain and self-flagellation – like punishment but also empowerment and being sexy through owning up to your own pain. He was able to see the broader context. And there was this strong emotional exchange. So I wish there were more people, who are faced with something new, with a new approach.

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Photo by Marie Haefner

What’s your interest in the topic of »trouble«?

I think being troubling is very good, but not everyone can afford trouble. I ask myself: who can afford to cause trouble? I mean, of course, heartbreak or financial trouble, anxiety can and do happen in my life. But in a very general sense my position in the context I am working in and in the society in Austria is a safe one. I’m not so much in trouble, that I couldn’t make a work about trouble. I can think about it, what trouble is for me, because I’m not in trouble, which would prevent me from doing so.

Next article

»We Bodies« stellt die Erwartungen an Tanz und Körperideale auf den Prüfstand

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PW-Magazine is a bilingual online magazine for contemporary culture.