Leena Kela: Rest of Us

5.8.-4.9. Studio space of Photographic Centre Nykyaika

The Rest of Us video trilogy is comprised of videos I executed in collaboration with Jussi Virkkumaa that portray performances about a time after human beings. The video series has three parts: There Is No Planet B (2020), Rest of Time (2021) and If You Fall, We Will Fall Too (2022).

Just before his death, physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking gave us a warning: humanity has no more than a hundred years on Earth. To save man from extinction we must prepare to colonize another planet. Our time is running out and thus we must prepare ourselves to begin our journey to another planet. The series of works puts forth questions on the future of our planet. Since we have no Planet B to move on to, how do we act when our planet is in crisis? How much time do we have left? What will be left of us?

In There Is No Planet B, I wave a large flag made from a gold and silver space sheet and a fishing rod in places where human actions have led to permanent or significant destruction, either by completely destroying the landscape or harshly weakening its biodiversity. These places include a clear cutting area, a mine and a peat bog. The video performance is a performative ritual to aim to change our understanding amidst a global environmental crisis.

Rest of Time is a video essay filmed at a granite quarry about time, slowness and change. The central issue of the piece is the relationship between stone and the human body from a temporal point of view. The large, static boulders at the quarry represent the time, slowness and permanence of the stone, that human behaviour has very rapidly changed by moulding them into squares and rectangles. The human body itself is no match to the unshakeable force of the stone, but by using different tools human beings can beat the permanence of it even on a scale that changes the entire landscape into a sort of man-made sculpture. The essay portion addresses questions about how we should act in the middle of this change: instead of being proactive, should we approach the ecological crisis by taking time to mourn, rest and go slow? Is the eye of the storm the best place to rest?

If You Fall, We Will Fall Too takes place in a Southwest Finnish (also called Finnish Proper) primeval forest. In addition to myself, seven performers of different ages and backgrounds have placed themselves in the forest area among the trees. The performers move very slowly, rising up and coming down in different rhythms. The stillness of the old coniferous trees and the cover of the forest is reflected in the slow movements of the performers, where the human bodies, one by one, rise up to their feet or pull themselves to the ground to squat or lie down.

Consultant on movement and coreography: Suvi Nieminen

Performers: Leena Kela, Lauri Kärkkäinen, Suvi Nieminen, Pirkko Piri, Milla Ryytty, Silja Saarinen, Pete Santos and Yngve Sjöblom

Leena Kela is a performance artist, the Artistic Director of Performance Turku Biennale, Residency Director at Saaren Kartano and a doctoral student at the Academy of Fine Arts at Uniarts Helsinki. Her work and research examine the interaction of bodily existence and materiality in performance art. She creates performances and video pieces that twist and play with our relationships to everyday objects and phenomena. She has performed in numerous shows in Finland and in international performance art festivals and exhibitions in every continent on Earth aside from Antarctica.


Pieces in the exhibition have received support from AVEK, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Varsinais-Suomi Regional Fund, Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland and Uniarts Helsinki.