Performance: May 26, 2007
Participant: Irma Optimist
Duration: 1 hour
Irma Optimist presents an optimistic lesson in dynamic art systems and the logic of everything. Without a word, Optimist introduces a line of seemingly disparate elements, images and actions, which appear as perfectly logical as they are joined together in her particular order and pace. She enters the room to a projection and the opening sequence of James Bond, Agent 007. With an overhead projector, she transforms the figures into 2007 and from this continues to build a mathematical system. Serious like a university lecturer, using sausages, shaving foam, coal, black paint, a tombola, stones, a picture of Salvador Dalí, perfume, hairspray, tooth brushing and boxing gloves, she creates an altogether personal system of chaos.
Irma Optimist (born in 1952 in Vaasa, Finland, lives and works in Helsinki and Vaasa) combines a feminist overview with abstract mathematics and absurd humour. In her performances we move through minor catastrophes towards a solution that may result in harmony or complete chaos. She often references art history, in particular the interventions and non-linear narration of the Fluxus movement.
In 1991, Irma changed her surname to Optimist in order to counterbalance Finnish national melancholia. Right from the beginning, humour has been a key element to her work. She has been inspired by Finnish comedies of the 50’s and film icons such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy. With her son, Optimist runs the international performance festival Las Bas in Helsinki. She also works as a professor in Mathematics at the University of Turku in Finland, specializing in chaos theory.