MASKS AND METAMORPHOSIS
Friday 3rd of October 10:00-18:00
Saturday 4th of October 10:00-12:00
Theatre Academy Helsinki
Address: Haapaniemenkatu 6, Helsinki
Organization: Society for Northern Ethnography, TEAK, University of Helsinki,
Teatteri Metamorfoosi, MasQue Festival
Masks are present almost everywhere in the world. They could conceal an identity, in order to show another one. In traditional societies, masks reveal and make tangible what is normally invisible: the world of deities, heroes, ancestors, shape-shifters, tricksters and monsters. The Ancient Greek theatre was masked, mythological and considered an integral part of the frenzy festival of the God Dionysos. In carnivals the masks give people a change to break social norms for few days and assume transgressive identities.
Mask are still used today in stage theatre: while some companies are following traditional patterns (the Italian “Commedia dell'Arte”) others are performing in surprising and innovative ways, looking into the past with a contemporary sensibility.
This multidisciplinary conference joins up scholars of folk beliefs, cultural anthropologists, art experts, actors and directors who will analyse Masks and Metamorphosis in Native North American, Finno-Ugric, North Italian and Asian traditions, and in contemporary Finnish theatre.
Papers by Enrico Comba and Caterina Agus (University of Turin), Mark Shackleton, Marianna Keisalo, Risto Pulkkinen, Vesa Matteo Piludu, Konsta Kaikkonen (University of Helsinki), Davide Giovanzana and Tanja Eloranta (Theatre Academy Helsinki, Teatteri Metamorfoosi), Max Bremer (Teatteri Universum, Svenska Teater) and Andrey Tischenko (Tischenko Gallery).
The program include several occasion for questions and debate and the tour of two exhibitions.
See below the full program with abstracts.
It is possible to follow only some sections or lectures of the congress.
PROGRAM AND SCHEDULES
FRIDAY 3rd of OCTOBER 2014
Masks and Metamorphosis in Italy 10:00–12:00
10:00 - 10:10 Opening
10:10 – 10:40 DAVIDE GIOVANZANA (TEAK, TEATTERI METAMORFOOSI)
MASKS AND RITUALS: THE EXAMPLE OF COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE
The lecture emphasizes the anthropological background of the Italian theatre tradition of Commedia dell'Arte. It explores the agrarian ritualistic origin of the genre and points out their repercussion in the dramaturgical structure and aesthetic of the Commedia dell'Arte.
Davide Giovanzana is a theatre director and an actor trained in physical theatre, with a special focus on mask theatre. He has worked, as actor, theatre director and pedagogue in several countries with different theatres ad theatre academies. He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program of artistic research at the theatre academy of Helsinki. The subject of his doctoral research investigates the phenomenon of play within the play and the dimension of the self-representation. In 2006 he has founded the theatre company Metamorfoosi, based in Helsinki, and since 2012 he collaborates with the Finnish-German multidisciplinary group Periskop.
10:50 – 10:50 Questions and discussion
10:50 – 11:50 CATERINA AGUS (keynote-speaker, University of Turin):
SEMEL IN ANNO LICET INSANIRE: RITUALS AND MASKS IN WESTERN ALPS
Among the alpine winter manifestations of the agrarian year, some ancient rituals are held to secure prosperity and good harvest. Masked parades are striking examples of these activities. In these performances some standard situations and characters are brought into play. Among these, there are the representation of a mock nuptial cortege, the occurrence of the “bear” and the bear-chase, the representation of ploughing, the appearance of a seer-healer who have the ability to deal with a specific disease, the trial and sentencing to death of a crucial figure which is often identified with “Carnival” himself. Masks are an essential part of the carnival costume. They represent the dichotomy of everything earthly: masks are used with the purpose of waking, activating, stimulating and increasing the creative forces of life and conversely to warding off evil spirits. The ritual use of mask derives from a concept of magical transformation: through the mask, the ritual performer changes his physical form to enter the world of the spirit. The mask is the symbol of all metamorphoses: in this sense, the rites of Carnival and the Commedia dell’Arte reveal similar action and similar characters, cast in very similar original patterns. In order to understand this, it is therefore necessary begin to fit together the pieces of the jigsaw and form a coherent picture.
In 2012 Caterina Agus obtained her Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology from the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society of Turin University. Her thesis focused on the carnival figure of the bear in the Western Alps and on the traditions related to it. Her research interests include the field of carnival rites, customs and masquerades, ritual object and folk festivals. In 2013 she won a research grant for a project about the history of early Christianity in Western Alps. This research received support from the following entities: Fondazione Giovanni Goria and Associazione Culturale Jonas. She wrote articles on cultural history and took part in international scientific conferences in Italy and Finland.
11:50 – 12:00 Questions and discussions
12 AM – 13:30
13:30 – 18:00
MASKS AND METAMORPHOSIS IN THE NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITION
13:30 – 16:00
13:30-14:00 MARIANNA KEISALO (University of Helsinki)
CHAPAYEKA MASKS: INTENTION, AGENCY, AND POWER, IN THE YAQUI EASTER RITUAL
This paper looks at how intention, agency, and power are mediated in Chapayeka masked performance. The Chapayekas are ritual clowns that represent Judas and the Roman soldiers in the Yaqui Easter ritual. They wear masks that represent various Other beings, including foreigners, animals, mythological beings, and even figures from TV and film. The mask is considered to be a very powerful object, with its own capacity for agency. The mask can help the performer endure the hard work of the ritual, and is an integral part of the blessings this brings, but can also be very dangerous if not handled correctly. A worst case scenario would be the mask sticking to the performer’s face permanently and turning him into a ghost. In performance, a distinction between the performer and mask must be maintained. The masks should not be touched by the uninitiated, stared at, or photographed. New masks are made each year, usually by the performers themselves, as at the end of the ritual all but two are burned. As objects, the masks are respected, sometimes feared, but also admired and enjoyed as skillfully made objects that artfully depict the various figures. In this presentation I will discuss how the power of the Chapayeka masks is created and controlled, the efficacy this has within Yaqui ritual, and implications this has for considering masked performance more broadly.
Marianna Keisalo is a PhD student in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki.
14:00 – 15:00 ENRICO COMBA (keynote speaker, University of Turin)
MASKED ANIMALS: TRANSFORMATION AND REPRESENTATION IN NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN WORLDVIEW
In Amerindian cosmologies, animals are seen as beings composed of an internal form: the “soul” or “spirit” of the animal, and an outer body, analogous to an animal mask. Thus, the act of wearing an animal mask is not simply a form of disguise, but the actual transformation of the human being into the animal that is represented by the mask. Some elements of a conception very similar to this one can be recognized in documents regarding the European masquerades in the Middle Ages.
Enrico Comba is Associate Professor of Anthropology of Religions in the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society of the University of Turin, Italy. His main research interest are the anthropology of religions, with particular emphasis on Native North American Religions and Shamanism. Among his last publications: “Mixed Human-Animal Representations in Palaeolithic Art: an Anthropological Perspective”, in Jean Clotte (sous la dir. de), L'art pléistocène dans le monde, Tarascon-sur-Ariège: Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées (2012) and “Amerindian Cosmologies and European Prehistoric Cave Art: Reasons for and Usefulness of a Comparison”, Arts, 3 (2014).
15:00-15:10 Discussion and questions
MARK SHACKLETON (University of Helsinki):
THE SHAPE-SHIFTING TRICKSTERS AND NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN WRITING
The Native North American Trickster figure has been an inspiration to contemporary Native American and First Nations drama, fiction and poetry. The strength of this figure lies in its roots traditional aboriginal storytelling combined with its multiple contemporary implications. The presentation will attempt to account for the continuing relevance of the Trickster figure in contemporary Native North American writing, with particular emphasis on the work of the Toronto-based Native Earth Performing Arts theatre group.
Mark Shackleton is currently University Lecturer and Docent (Adjunct Professor) at the Department of Modern Languages (English Philology), University of Helsinki, Finland. He is the author of Moving Outward. The Development of Charles Olson’s Use of Myth (1993) and has edited a number of volumes on North American studies including Migration, Preservation and Change (1999), Roots and Renewal (2001), and First and Other Nations (2005). He has published widely on Native North American writing, including articles on Tomson Highway, Thomas King, Monique Mojica, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, and Simon J. Ortiz. Recent publications include Diasporic Literature and Theory: Where Now? (ed. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008) and Canada: Images of a Post/National Society (edited with Gunilla Florby & Katri Suhonen, Peter Lang, 2009).
15:40-15:50 Questions and discussions
15:50-16:10 Coffee break
Section II: MASKS AND METAMORPHOSIS IN CONTEMPORARY THEATRE
16:10-16:50 TANJA ELORANTA (Teatteri Höyhentämö, Teatteri Metamorfoosi):
A PRACTICAL VIEWPOINT TO CONTEMPORARY MASK THEATRE
THROUGHT CASE EXAMPLES
I will speach on my recent works with masks: Diva and the Mechanical Heart (2011) and Kasvokoje (Praxes Itinérantes – III osa) (2014). Both of these performances are contemporary examples of masks on stage. I try to describe the background and the use of masks in these two very different productions.
Tanja Eloranta is a dancer, actor, choreographer and director. She got her MA degree (Dance) at the Theatre Academy Helsinki in 2011. She worked in several production for Dance company Liisa Nojonen, Pori Theatre, Turku Art Academy, Teatteri Metamorfoosi, Theatre Academy Helsinki, Clowns Without Borders, Teatteri Metamorfoosi, Theatre Naamio ja Höyhen, Höyhentämö.
16:50-17:00 Questions and discussion
17:00 – 17:40 MAX BREMER (Teatteri Universum, Venus-Teatteri, Teater Mars, Svenska Teater, Stjärnfall)
TRANCE-MASKS / PART 2
17:40 – 18:00 Final questions and discussion
SATURDAY 4th of OCTOBER
MORNING SECTIONS 10:00 - 12:15
Section 1: METAMORPHOSIS AND MASKS IN FINNO-UGRIC TRADITIONS
10:00-10:30 VESA MATTEO PILUDU (University of Helsinki):
DRAMA AND MASKS IN FINNIC AND KHANTY RITUALS OF THE BEAR HUNT
The Finno-Karelian rite of the bear hunt has been described by several scholars as a long “ritual drama”, where the hunters were performing a long “ritual opera”, singing traditional runo-songs for the invisible public of the forest spirits (metsänhaltijat). In the songs were described, with theatrical fantasy, several role-changes: the hunters became the “lovers of the forest maidens or spirits” and the bear itself was considered a “maiden that oversleep” before its kill and “a male host of the village” after the kill. The bear head and skull had a also a singular “mask role” in the banquet and the final procession. In the bear ritual of the Khanty (Ugric people from western Siberia) were performed bear dances with bear mask. Also other masks – some of these indeed comical - were present in the final part of the rites.
Vesa Matteo Piludu is a Finnish-Italian teacher and PhD-student who gives courses on Comparative Religion, Semiotics of Arts, and cultural studies in Musicology at the University of Helsinki since 2006. The focus of many of his courses has been the relations between myths, rituals, folk beliefs, popular legends, music and arts. In Italy he gave courses and guest lectures on music and myths at the the University La Sapienza of Rome, the University of Turin, The Centre for Brazilian Studies of Rome, the Conservatory Santa Cecilia of Rome, the Conservatory Pergolesi of Fermo, the Foundation Santa Cecilia of Portogruaro. He is actually writing his PhD thesis on Finnic bear rituals. Vice-President of the Society for Northern Ethnography.
10:30-11:00 KONSTA KAIKKONEN (University of Helsinki):
PERSONIFICATION OF NATURE AND ITS CHANGE IN HISTORICAL SAAMI CULTURE
In historical texts concerning traditional Saami (Lapp) culture the border between man and nature seems more unclear the further we go back in time. It seems that a gradual religious change from Saami indigenous religion to Christianity had an impact on the ways nature was personified by Saami societies and the individuals. Some traditional beliefs and attitudes lived side by side with the official Christian teachings; while divisions between man and animal as well as culture and nature are visible in the "official" Christian doctrine, old beliefs seem to have lived on in secrecy and manifest in for example folk tales concerning metamorphosis. A wide variety of factors contributed to these changes on several levels, and I argue they can be analyses by a critical application of different theoretical viewpoints.
Konsta Kaikkonen graduated at the University of Helsinki with the MA-Thesis: "Personhood and religious change among the Saami: reviewing historical texts".
11:00 - 11:30 RISTO PULKKINEN (University of Helsinki):
OF MEN AND WOLVES: MAGIC AND METAMORPHOSIS IN THE NORTH
The border between man and animal has been very thin in traditional Northern societies, like the Saami (Lapp). In my presentation I am going to discuss both shamanic metamorphoses between shamans and their zoomorphic assistant spirits, voluntary and magical transformations of people into a wolf or a bear, as well as involuntary transformations among the common folk.
Risto Pulkkinen is adjunct professor (Docent) and senior lecturer in Comparative Religion in the University of Helsinki and adjunct professor in Northern Ethnography at the University of Lapland. He is specialized in Northern folk religions. He wrote the monograph "Suomalainen kansanusko samaaneista saunatonttuihin" “Finnish Folk Religion from Shamans to House Spirits”(2014) and he has co-edited the book "The Saami. A Cultural Encyclopaedia" (2005). President of the Society for Northern Ethnography.
11:30-11:45 BOOK PRESENTATION
Presentation of the new book: Suomalainen kansanusko samaaneista saunatonttuihin (2014); “Finnish Folk Religion from Shamans to House Spirits” by Risto Pulkkinen.
Section 2: MASK IN ASIAN TRADITIONS
11:45-12:15 ANDREY TISCHENKO: “Traditional Masks in Nepal”
Presentation of traditional Nepalese masks of Tischenko collection. Questions and discussion.
Andrey Tischenko is a collector of ethnic art and owner of the Tischenko Gallery in Helsinki.
Social Program in the afternoon:
14:00 – 17:00 Tour of the Mask and Puppet theater collections of the Museum of Theatre.
17:00 – 19:00 TOUR OF THE EXHIBITION “TRADITIONAL ART OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA” at the Tischenko Gallery (Fredrikinkatu 64, Helsinki). Refreshment.