The BodyBuilding Project

Work in Progress: The BodyBuilding Project (2007– )

The BodyBuilding Project is an ongoing inquiry into the sensibilities, subjectivities and relational modalities we, both as interdependent beings and as a species, might develop in response to the planetary urgencies and changes we currently face. It encourages us to reimagine the propensities currently identified as “human,” and to begin building bodies capable of prefiguring life beyond the collapsing horizons.

The project was originally initiated in 2007, in the context of a collaborative artist residency at Watermill Center, New York. Since then, it has developed into an interdisciplinary and international research platform activated periodically by an mutating body of artists, theorists and practitioners.

The collective research process focuses on the investigation of the complex interrelations between human and nonhuman entities, as well as the invention and development of embodied, experiential and relational techniques that attempt to reconfigure human perception and experience by altering the ways in which we relate and respond to other life forms and events that are beyond our immediate perception and understanding. The techniques are transmitted and shared with others in the context of public events. The form, composition and content of each event are created in response to the context, i.e. the specific material, geological, biological, social and political conditions the event is situated in. Rather than being defined by human agents alone, they emerge through the encounter between various human, nonhuman and inhuman forces and processes. So far, all of the events have been durational and participatory, lasting from three hours to three days; some of them bear resemblance to workshops or seminars whereas others are closer to participatory performance installations. Each event is unique and nonrepeatable.

Since 2007, the project has been shown in Watermill Center and Chez Bushwick (NY, United States) as well as Baltic Circle, Theatre Academy, HIAP Gallery Augusta, Mad House Helsinki and Kiasma Theatre (Helsinki, Finland); it has also been chosen to be part of Guangzhou Triennial (Guangzhou, China) and Skills of Economy – Mattering City, an exhibition shown in Gallery 68 (Copenhagen, Denmark).

Past events
The BodyBuilding Project: An Introduction (2014)
The BodyBuilding Project: A Non-Conclusion (2015)
The Call of the Nonhuman (2015)
The BodyBuilding Project: Acclimatization (2015)


Project coordination: Saara Hannula
Working group: Anniina Ala-Ruona, Outi Condit, Daria Faïn, Saara Hannula, Ilpo Heikkinen, Robert Kocik, Satu Palokangas, Alan Prohm, Tommi Vasko, Carmen C. Wong (2014–2016); Daria Faïn, Christina Guerrero-Harmon, Scott Elliott, Saara Hannula, Robert Kocik, Elisa Laurila, Riikka Notkola, Alan Prohm (2007–2009)
Visual Material: Saara Hannula and Tommi Vasko
Documentation: Tani Simberg, Christopher Hewitt, Salla Lahtinen and working group
Production: HIAP, Baltic Circle, Kiasma Theatre
Funding: Kone Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland

The basics of the approach developed in 2007 were laid down in two essays self-published under the title “Enactivism: on Urgent Art for Social Climate Change” and in The BodyBuilding Project, the original research report of the project.

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