Irma Optimist


Irma Optimist has for a number of years been a prominent figure in Finnish performance. She has adopted Optimist as a last name to counterbalance the Finnish melancholy. She has presented over 160 performances since 1989 in Finland, USA, Japan, Canada, Germany, Austria, Poland, France, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, Israel, United Kingdom and Ireland.  

Irma Optimist is working at the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration as a senior lecturer in Mathematics (PhD), specialized in chaos theory.

Irma Optimist’s performances intend to disturb the logic of science. Part of her work is aimed at disentangling formal language and, in Optimist’s own opinion, a performance is, first and foremost, an intellectual process. Using optimistic mathematics, she wants to restore the symbols of food, love and sexuality, since the body has exploded due to the demand for desire, utility and energy. She is a real person, as well as a woman, who wants to show that her brain is as important as any other part of her body. She believes that her image is something of a combination of the soft and the hard, a bit of both. What she wants is to emphasize both of these sides in woman.

Her performance is influenced by time and space, by the temporality of presence, and its female optimistic lifestyle contradicts the static idea of art. Her performance lacks an absolutely fixed point. As a non-linear system it exists in the interaction between the artist and the audience; the relationship is complex. Western culture has sublimated itself through science, but Optimist’s performance reduces science back to corporality. She restores brilliant visibility or transparency to the politics of identity. What Irma Optimist looks like and what she is doing are just as true as her own self.

International Visiting Artists: Finland

FADO is pleased to present the Toronto premiere of new works by two Finnish performance artists, Irma Optimist and Pekka Luhta.

Irma Optimist and Pekka Luhta will present solo performance works that hint at a slightly surrealist sensibility, employing rapid-fire humour and high-impact visual imagery. These two artists use entertainment and surprise as elements to lead the audience into a world of serious thought and theory. For Irma Optimist, female sexuality is the tactic of choice in her performance art works. Using various personas, from sex kitten to the mythical huntress Diana, she seduces, captivates and captures males within her audience in order to explain mathematical formulae. Pekka Luhta’s prosthetic limb provides the departure point for setting up complex readings of cultural and social theory.

Irma Optimist has been a performance artist since 1989, producing over 100 works to date throughout Europe and in North America. She was last seen in Toronto in 1996 performing in FADO’s Rencontre Performance. In addition to her performance art career, Optimist works as a professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Vaasa.

Pekka Luhta is a performance artist and writer who lives and works in Finland. He has performed throughout Europe and in North America. This is his first visit to Canada. He writes of his work: “I concentrate on living art using my body as the most important instrument. The works tell about the situations in which I manifest my corporal thinking. Photographs, performances, videos, writings, drawings and paintings are the fragments of living experience.”

Irma Optimist and Pekka Luhta will also be in Hamilton on October 8, 2003 performing part of the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s Sevenseason program.

This event is presented in conjunction with TRANZ < – – – > TECH 2003, Toronto’s International Media Arts Biennial. Artist travel support was provided by the FRAME (Finnish Fund for Art Exchange).

Rencontre Performance

Presented by FADO in cooperation with Le Lieu in QuĂ©bec City, as a satellite event of Le Lieu’s Rencontre internionale d’art performance et multimĂ©dia. This event was organized and curated by Sandy McFadden with the support of Istvan Kantor and Paul Couillard.

Paul Couillard (Toronto)
Ed Johnson (Toronto)
Istvan Kantor (Toronto)
Louise Liliefeldt (Toronto)
Richard Martel (Québec)
Julie Andrée T. (Québec)
BMZ (Hungary)
Roddy Hunter (UK)
Tari Ito (Japan)
Dziugas Katinas (Lithuania)
Gustav Uto (Romania)
Hong O Bong (Korea)
Irma Optimist (Finland)
Hortensia Ramirez (Mexico)
André Stitt (N. Ireland)

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer