FLUXATIONS 2017: Interview with the Artist Jussi Matilainen

Posted on 27.2.2017

For Jussi Matilainen, making of art is largely based on studying: he examines things and phenomenons he finds interesting and gathers information about them by reading among other things.

Artist Jussi Matilainen doesen’t dig into his own self-conscience and feelings, but rather takes interest in empiricistic approach. Lately Matilainen has mainly focused on video art, but he also does performances and likes to combine different techniques.

Artist Jussi Matilainen was born in Pieksamäki in 1979. He graduated from the Kankaanpää Art School (department of the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences) in 2002 earning Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. He currently lives in Pori where he works full-time as a visual artist focusing mainly on performance and video art.

Jussi Matilainen was nineteen when he got accepted in Kankaanpää Art School. He didn’t even apply to any other schools because the art studies felt like the only natural and serious option for him. Matilainen majored in painting. He recalls that there weren’t that many opportunities to study media art during that time.

“Art studies in the beginning of the 2000s felt yet quite traditional. There was this one course in video art that covered the basics of making the videos, but that didn’t quite impress me enough to take an interest in the art form, Matilainen recalls.

However, Matilainen started to make video art soon after he graduated. He wanted to distance himself from painting.

“After I graduated, I didn’t identify myself as a painter. It didn’t fit right with me. I had this need to extend my artistic expression to different forms and means. Painting, to me, felt like kind of a lonely and personal act. I needed something more social, more communal to do. Performance art fit right to that set. It served me as a sort of a gateway to media art. I was a part of two groups, MVET and T.E.H.D.A.S., that did performances that involved the use of different forms of media. We for example videotaped our performances”.

For Matilainen, making of art is largely based on studying: he examines things and phenomenons he finds interesting and gathers information about them by reading among other things. Inspiration may occur for example from art history.

“I strongly feel like my doings are always motivated by something external. I don’t dig into my own self-conscience and feelings, but rather take interest in empiricistic approach. To me, making of art is a process that evolves through reading and studying, observing things and building connections and relations between them. Surely, in some extent, I’m also filtering things through my personal experiences, but mainly it’s about searching information. The artistic process takes a place somewhere in the middle. Researching and observing things are the key elements to my working process: in what extent those things are found in the final work – that’s a different story”.

In the artwork Tap-Mapping Matilainen studies space by step dancing

Lately Matilainen has mainly focused on video art, but he also does performances every once in a while. He’s interested in combining different techniques. For example, his work Tap-Mapping, which is presented on Fluxations 2017, is based on a performance.

“In Tap-Mapping there’s a strong connection to performance art. I’ve used step dancing before in my live performances. This work is partially a performance, a documentary of performativity. To me it feels natural to combine performance with video”.

Tap-Mapping was originally born as a by-product of an other project. The working process was unusually quick one for the artist.

“Last fall I was teaching this ”Artist as a researcher” -course at the Kankaanpää Art School. My students and I were debating about the quality of information that art is producing and these discussions served as an inspiration for Tap-Mapping. Another thing that influenced the piece was this one multi-artistic event that I participated. It took place in an old office complex and it was that place combined with the thoughts evoked by the course that ultimately led to the birth of Tap-Mapping”, Matilainen says.

Matilainen continues to work on themes relating to Tap-Mapping hoping to take them even further. He sees the work as a possible steppingstone for larger set of works.

“Tap-Mapping is basically based on the fact, that I wanted to see if it would be possible to study and explore space and the experience of it by step dancing. It is interesting to explore what kind of ‘performatic information’ step dancing can produce of space”, Matilainen explains.

In Matilainen’s opinion media art has manage to establish its ground quite well. Besides that, he believes that there’s still some room for growth in the field. The art field isn’t the only thing facing the digital revolution – it touches the whole world in general. Matilainen thinks that we haven’t quite yet figured the full scale of it.

“It’s a little bit funny to think about kids nowadays considering moving pictures/films something as natural as my generation saw crayons to be. The history of moving picture is short, but its brake to everyday common mundane thing has happened so fast. What comes to the digital revolution, I doubt that the art field has yet seen it in its fullest volume”.

Photo: Janne Rahkila

Turku Artists Association presents the curator and each of the Fluxations 2017 artists. The interviews are published before the event on Turku Artists Association’s webpages and on Facebook.